The Mercedes-Benz SLK is a sporty light convertible and one of the first to feature a retractable hard top.

Visual

it’s a lot more aggressive than the previous SLK, especially the SLK55 AMG, which borrows several design elements from the SLS AMG Roadster. The wider front grille is one such area with its centrally mounted three-pointed star taking pride of place above the high-gloss black finish front splitter.It features a wider track too, front and rear, so the car looks like it’s well and truly planted.

With trademark AMG quad exhaust pipes, rear diffuser and deep front apron, there’s absolutely no mistaking this particular SLK for anything other than the top shelf AMG model.

ENGINE and FUEL EFFICIENCY

The all-new Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG packs the same 5.5-litre displacement, but this new V8 engine develops a more robust 310kW of power and 540Nm.it has the power of 5439 cc.

It’s capable of achieving an extraordinarily fuel-efficient 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres (combined). Its 5.5-litre V8 is understandably the world’s most economical V8 engine and emits just 197g/km of CO2.

review

Hit the oversized starter button and there’s an immediate high-tempo burble that sounds decidedly more racecar inspired than any prestige convertible for the road. It’s more of a metallic exhaust note than its deeper-sounding C63 AMG sibling, but you can hear the SLK55 AMG on approach up to one kilometre away.

TECHNOLOGY

There’s a lot of technology in this car, particularly around the engine management system, which deactivates four cylinders during mild throttle inputs for better fuel efficiency, but only when the transmission is engaged in the controlled efficiency mode (C).

the moment you require a decent dab of the throttle, the SLK55 AMG reverts to all eight cylinders. The switch from four to eight cylinders would be imperceptible if not for the ‘ECO4′ and ‘ECO8′ symbols that appear in the instrument cluster.

SUSPENSION and HANDLING

AMG cars have always been fairly hard riding due to stiffer suspension set-ups than the standard Mercedes-Benz cars, but it doesn’t take long to realise the latest SLK55 has a noticeably more comfortable ride than the rest of the AMG fleet. It’s still firm, but even the worst of Victoria’s country roads are ironed out for a largely supple ride.

That’s even more impressive given our test car was equipped with the optional AMG handling package, which adds AMG sports suspension, composite front brake rotors and an AMG rear-axle differential lock.

It’s agile too, with quick response steering on turn-in and nicely weighted for those more enthusiastic driving moments on twisty roads that require multiple directional changes.

Equipped with the ‘AMG speedshift plus’ seven-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, the SLK55 AMG offers smooth shifts up and down the ratio range, even in sport mode (S). It’s a traditional automatic box rather Merc’s MCT dual–clutch unit, so the shifts, while smooth, aren’t particularly quick unless you’re shifting up under full load, which shortens shift times.

Drivers can switch to manual mode using the paddle shifters if they wish, but we found the sport setting to be just as rewarding under most conditions.

BRAKES

With a kerb weight of 1610kg and AMG four pot calipers at the front, stopping power on board the SLK55 is exceptional, especially under high loads with the car remaining wonderfully composed during such urgent braking

INTERIOR

Despite the short wheelbase the Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG is a proper two-seat sports car, so there’s plenty of legroom up front and sufficient headroom with the roof closed for those up to 190 centimetres tall.

Lower the folding metal roof and that AMG exhaust note is amplified tenfold. There’s minimal buffeting too, even at speed and the standard fit Harman Kardon audio system produces superb clarity during open-air motoring.

The standard Nappa leather sports seats are both supportive and hugely comfortable, while the overall cabin is suitably upmarket with sufficient design highlights and high grade materials to make this cabin a very comfortable place to be.

AMG tuned vehicles are rarely referred to as lifestyle vehicles, but the SLK55 AMG is one of those cars that offers buyers a unique combination of exclusivity, outstanding performance and handling, aggressive styling and stance, and a high level of comfort and standard safety kit.

Advertisements