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Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Performance

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class blends a comfortable ride with agile handling, auto journalists report. However, they say rivals such as the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z4 are nimbler and offer quicker acceleration than the base SLK250. Test drivers think the SLK-Class' automatic transmission doesn't shift as quickly as it should.

  • "The SLK still isn't as naturally light on its feet as a Boxster or Z4, but it's extremely satisfying to drive, especially with the top down and the tunes up." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "That capable character fortunately carries over to the current third-generation SLK, which was redesigned for 2012. Heck, Mercedes even continues to offer a manual transmission with the base engine, a rare sporting treat in this day and age." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "Despite the extra agility, though, the SLK continues to provide the smooth, composed ride that Mercedes drivers expect. It's a deft two-step that most other roadsters can't pull off, though it's very much in keeping with SL family values." -- Edmunds (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK250 is powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission and is available with a seven-speed automatic. The SLK350 has a 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque and comes with a seven-speed automatic. The SLK250 with the manual transmission earns 22/32 mpg city/highway according to the EPA, which is good for the class.

The SLK55 AMG comes with a 5.5-liter V8 engine that makes 415 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard. According to Mercedes-Benz, the SLK55 AMG accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds and has a top speed of 174 mph when equipped with the optional AMG handling package.

According to reviewers, the SLK250 is sufficiently powerful, but they say it suffers from some turbo lag and can't match the acceleration found in rivals such as the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster. Test drivers note the SLK350 feels significantly more powerful than the SLK250 and the SLK55 AMG's V8 delivers thrilling performance. Test drivers mention that the automatic transmission's shifts could be quicker.

  • "Even the SLK250 with its turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder is quick (0-60 mph arrives in 6.5 seconds), but Sport mode should be engaged to wring the most out of it. In Normal mode, that base engine is nagged by turbo lag. V6 models are noticeably quicker (0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds), while the V8-powered SLK AMG model blazes (0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds)." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The SLK350 trails the BMW Z4 sDrive35i's acceleration numbers, but in the real world the midrange SLK has plenty of get-up when you give it the spurs, and the exhaust note verges on thrilling. The SLK250's turbocharged four-cylinder engine is less appealing: Acceleration is adequate, but the base Z4 and Boxster are noticeably quicker and return the same fuel economy. Meanwhile, the SLK55 AMG and its 415 hp is a blast to drive, providing muscle-carlike power in a compact, German roadster." -- Edmunds
  • "For the lucky few who upgrade to the SLK55, the V8's insane rush of power will never get old. We promise." -- AutoTrader (2014)
  • "The automatic transmission is generally responsive, but it can dither between gears, and it isn't as lightning quick as the dual-clutch automated manuals offered by the competition. Shifting manually via the steering-wheel paddles helps, but the shifts still aren't that quick." -- Consumer Guide (2013)

Handling and Braking

Most auto writers think the rear-wheel drive 2015 SLK-Class has precise steering and agile handling, although some note that it's not quite as nimble as the Porsche Boxster or BMW Z4. They add that the SLK-Class holds its own on the highway, with a poised, comfortable ride over long treks. However, critics also say the SLK-Class tends to feel a little unsettled over uneven pavement due to its short wheelbase.

  • "While it obviously can't match the much pricier SLS' performance, the SLK is nonetheless far more engaging than the typical, comfort-oriented Mercedes model. Deft suspension tuning and accurate steering make the roadster a willing partner in crime for backroad blitzes, though it is equally happy playing the role of grand tourer for long-distance highway trips." -- Left Lane News
  • "The 2015 SLK-Class is reasonably athletic when going around turns, and most drivers will find it quite enjoyable." -- Edmunds
  • "At speed, the SLK could almost pass for an SL. That's how stable and composed it is on the highway. And unlike big brother, the SLK feels at home on twisty roads too, attacking corners with an enthusiasm that we have not traditionally associated with the 3-pointed star. Naturally, the SLK's truncated wheelbase makes it less compliant over rough pavement, but the structural rigidity is exemplary, so you can put the top down anytime without worrying about shakes and rattles." -- AutoTrader (2014)
Review Last Updated: 4/21/15

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