With a secure power retractable hardtop, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class roadster offers more refinement and civility than either the BMW Z4, Honda S2000, or Porsche Boxster. It also provides a luxurious interior and performance similar to that of the larger SL. And the SLK ranks as one of the safest convertibles on the market, with head-protective side air bags.
Three different variants of the Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster are again offered for 2009, and they all get minor facelifts in keeping with their more mature SL-Class siblings. As for power, the SLK280 retains its 228-hp 3.0L V6, while the SLK350's 3.5L V6 gets a nice boost from 268 hp to 305 hp, and the high-performance SLK55 AMG carries over with its potent 355-hp 5.5L V8.
Both of the V6 models have all-aluminum engines with variable valve timing, so there's plenty of torque available just off idle. They also incorporate a balance shaft for smoothness. The SLK280 is offered with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 7-speed automatic with Touch Shift manual control. The SLK350 and SLK55 AMG are only available with the 7-speed automatic.
The SLK55 AMG comes with a long list of special performance-oriented equipment, including its specially built V8, a tuned sports suspension, 18-inch wheels and performance tires, and powerful upgraded brakes. Additional luxury features inside include premium leather upholstery, heated seats, velour carpeting, ambient lighting, and special trim.
But the base SLK280 is no slouch, with leather seating, Bluetooth hands-free communication, air conditioning, and an in-dash 6-CD changer. It will reach 60 mph in just over 6 seconds. The SLK350 includes these interior appointments but is considerably faster, especially with its revised V6, and it should hit 60 mph in just over 5 seconds. The SLK55 AMG can get to 60 in only 4.8 seconds, and all three models are electronically limited to a 155-mph top speed.
The power-retracting hardtop transforms the SLK-Class from a coupe to an open-air car in only 22 seconds. Also, a clever rear window design swivels separately into place to allow the top to stow away in an especially small space at the top of the trunk.
Despite the emphasis on performance, safety does not take second stage in the SLK-Class. Roll bars are built into the structure to help protect in a rollover, while knee-protecting air bags are standard, along with head-thorax airbags that provide an unusually high level of protection for a convertible. Mercedes-Benz ESP stability control is standard, plus brake assist, which helps apply peak braking force when needed.
Major options on the V6 models include dual-zone climate control, bi-xenon headlamps with heated washers, a multimedia package that adds COMAND navigation and a Harman Kardan stereo, and an AMG Sport Package, which brings the wheels, suspension, and many of the appearance add-ons of the SLK55.
One standout feature of the SLK-Class is the Airscarf, an optional system that greatly improves comfort and enables top-down driving in cooler weather. The system, which is built into the seatbacks, blows warm air from the head restraints over the neck and compensates automatically for vehicle speed.
For 2009, the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class roadster receives a freshening both outside, inside, and underneath. Exterior styling is revised to resemble both the Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR supercar, as well as the company's current Formula One racer. The treatment includes a new front bumper, grille, headlights, and air dam. The rear fascia has been updated as well, with trapezoidal exhaust tips. The interior is also updated, with a new instrument cluster and three-point steering wheel with multi-function buttons.
The mid-level SLK350 gets a sizeable power boost, with output from the 3.5L V6 up from 268 hp to 305 hp. A new variable-ratio steering system is optional on the SLK280 and SLK350, and standard on the SLK55 AMG.
Convenient retractable hardtop; excellent safety features; refinement and lack of interior noise; performance.
Vehicle Price: 46,825.00
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