Mercedes Benz SLK-Class Performance
Automotive critics are impressed with the SLK's performance, especially its more powerful SLK350 trim. On balance, most find its ride sporty yet comfortable, making it great for spirited daily commutes.
- "Hats off to Mercedes for turning the SLK into a real sports car. If it were available with a manual transmission, it would even give the Porsche Boxster a run for its money, and that's high praise indeed." -- Automobile Magazine
- "Not many roadsters drive as aggressively as they look, but the SLK -- particularly the SLK350 -- has a bite that is definitely as strong as its bark." -- About.com
- "Forget those stolid Mercedes convertibles of decades past -- the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class will put a smile on any driving enthusiast's face, while remaining comfortable and compliant enough to appeal to the average driver." -- Edmunds
Acceleration and Power
The base SLK300 is equipped with a 3.0-liter V6 engine that produces 228 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 221 pound-feet of torque at 2,500 to 5,000 rpm. It's available with either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic. According to Mercedes-Benz, the SLK300 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds.
Meanwhile, the SLK350 features a 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 300 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 265 pound-feet of torque at 4,900 rpm -- a significant power boost from last year's 268 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Though no manual transmission is available, a seven-speed automatic transmission is standard. Significantly faster than the SLK300, Mercedes Benz claims the SLK350 can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.4 seconds.
The EPA reports that the SLK300 has a city/highway fuel economy of 17/26 mpg with the manual transmission and 19/26 mpg with an automatic. The SLK350 nets a similar 18/26 mpg.
Overall, test drivers prefer the SLK350's powerful engine over the SLK300's. What's more, most believe it would be even better if Mercedes Benz made the manual transmission available for the SLK350 too.
- "Turn the key, and the SLK350's 3.5-liter V-6 will surprise you with its throaty exhaust note. Stomp on the gas, and you'll be positively shocked. This is one of the best-sounding V-6 engines on sale today, if not the best. The new engine revs to 7200 rpm, and the seven-speed automatic bangs off quick shifts through closely spaced gears. ... If there is one fault with the SLK350, it's that it's not available with a manual transmission. The base SLK300 is, though it's considerably slower (228 hp, 221 lb-ft, 0-to-60 mph in 5.1 seconds), only revs to 6500 rpm, and doesn't sound nearly as good." -- Automobile Magazine
- "The automatic transmission changes gears smoothly and downshifts promptly to provide passing power." -- Consumer Guide
- "Automatic-transmission operation can be rude. It can get jerky at low speeds in lower gears and delivers a sizable jolt if you hit the gas pedal while slowing down." -- Cars.com
Handling and Braking
Test drivers are altogether pleased with the rear-wheel-drive SLK's comfortable, precise and agile handling dynamics.
- "The SLK feels more composed on the road than previous generations. Its ride has definitely been improved, with less harshness over bumps and improved stability in tight turns. You'll find that the steering is precise but somewhat heavy, requiring authoritative input from the driver." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "[A]ll 2009 SLKs are endowed with what Mercedes calls a 'Direct Steer System,' which includes a 25 percent quicker steering ratio and a progressive-effort build-up based on steering angle." -- Edmunds
- "Unlike in the BMW models with Active Steering, where you're always second-guessing what the result of your steering input will be, you don't even notice the Mercedes system. You just notice that the SLK has fantastic on-center steering feel, tracks dead straight ahead even at triple-digit speeds, and then turns in progressively and quickly when the road twists. The system gives the SLK a feel of sportiness that it's been missing since day one." -- Automobile Magazine
- "Ride quality is firm but not too punishing." -- About.com
- "For a convertible that looks like it's a dedicated sports car, the SLK350 proves to be a decent touring car when you get behind the wheel. Its four-wheel independent suspension yields a compliant ride even on rough roads, so you don't have to worry about this car punishing you on the commute to work if that's how you'll be driving it sometimes." -- Cars.com
- "Sports-car-taut base suspension feels firm on expansion joints and patchy pavement, but it never punishes. ... Strong brakes deliver drama-free stops." -- Consumer Guide