From its conception in 1996, the SLK has redefined what a fun car is. The designation in its name comes from the company’s design to create a vehicle that was sporty, light and short or in German: “Sportlikch, Leicht, und Kurz”. Through the years and through various transformations and facelifts, the company hasn’t diverged from that original concept and now brings us a car that is almost at the same level as it’s more expensive stablemates in both looks and maneuverability.
Expressing Mercedes-Benz design attributes the SLK, feels like the smaller and lighter although no less nicer of a roadster when compared to the upmarket SL and luxury beyond-market SLS. The new racing-style grille has more of a smile and denotes more a aggressive look, the car also appears longer thanks to its sharp tailoring. The roadster is more muscular than its predecessors and features smart-looking 18-inch wheels. In the end the design of the car continues with the trend that although it may not be the most serious sportscar available in the market it certainly is a formidable contestant and perfect for those in search of a vehicle with a lighthearted look of fun and respite.
The interior features an interplay of textures and materials of the highest caliber. The hand-fitted leather is supple and is set off by a modern aluminum trim on the console and also the on the roll bars adding a good contrast to the eye and touch. Furthest from boring, the seats are deeply contoured to better enjoy the adrenaline one gets when the car speeds. The cockpit is both calming to the eye and intimate, with no one part taking away from each other rather than being in harmony of design and functionality. Superb craftsmanship is found through the use of precisely stitched leather and the luxuriously placed Burl Walnut on the steering wheel, console and shift knob. More details include the crisp metallic trim on the gauges a material inspired by those found in the company’s SLS AMG supercar as well as the avant-garde “flat-bottom” steering wheel. The retractable also adds a nice touch, being made of glass as is the front windshield and back window really brings the outside to the inside and almost makes you feel like you are driving sans roof when in reality you are. We found the roof gave in a lot of light, and little shade which should be something to consider if you live in parts of the country that have very high temperatures.
But don’t let its small size and quiet look convince you otherwise, the its 3.5 liter, 6-cylinder, 302 horsepower, 7-speed transmission engine provided plenty of ferocity when hitting the road. The car sounds great with a motor that roars instead of purring. During testing the SLK which also has sprinted from 0-60 mph in quick 5.6 and with the 13-inch brakes the car also stops in a fast manner although they do lack a bit of progressive feel to them. Compared to its prior version the driving improved considerably, the steering for example, is really light and responsive. The Mercedes SLK350 comes with three different transmissions or driving modes that gives choices for driving depending on your on your desired experience or situation. The economy mode, offers less sensitivity to the throttle response but is the best for fuel economy, conversely, the sport mode is more sensible to the throttle but will give you a faster driving experience. The car also has the manual mode which you can change using the paddles on the steering wheel. Fuel economy is improved to 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg in the city.
Those interested in buying small sportscars should consider the SLK350, after all its new look doesn’t only make it a car just for girls, but its redesigned muscular exterior will also give guys something to talk about. Direct competitors of the SLK350 include Audi’s TTS or Porsche Boxter. Although the others do feel a little more like a real sportscar, the SLK holds on to its own with its vibrant spirit and redesigned striking design that turns heads on the road not only from its good looks but also from its roaring engine.
The price of the SLK350 starts at $54,800 but will quickly climb into the 60k dollar range with added options.