Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Performance
Test drivers report that the 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class blends a comfortable ride with sprightly handling. Most critics find the SLK-Class enjoyable to drive, especially the mid-range, V6-powered SLK350 and V8-powered SLK55 AMG.
- "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
- "Mercedes-Benz has worked hard to build sports-car credibility into its latest SLK, the third generation of the car. Each edition of the retractable hardtop roadster has upped the performance ante. For the most part, they have succeeded with the latest edition, which boasts confident road-holding and taut, responsive steering while still returning a plush highway ride." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "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
Acceleration and Power
The SLK250 is powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. The SLK250 has a standard six-speed manual transmission and an optional seven-speed automatic. The SLK350 has a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque and comes standard with the seven-speed automatic. An SLK250 with the manual transmission earns an EPA-estimated 22/32 mpg city/highway, which is comparable to the ratings of its closest rivals.
The SLK55 AMG is powered by a 5.5-liter V8 that produces 415 horsepower and 398 pound-feet of torque. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard. Mercedes-Benz estimates that 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 automotive journalists, the SLK250 has sufficient power and reasonably quick acceleration, but feels slower than rivals like the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster. Reviewers say that the SLK350 feels quite a bit peppier than the SLK250, and that the SLK55 AMG delivers incredible speed and acceleration and is exciting to drive. Test drivers add that the seven-speed automatic transmission doesn't shift as quickly as the dual clutch transmissions found in some rivals, but is still generally responsive.
- "Even a base model with the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is quick (0-60 mph is pegged at 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 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 remains the only V8-powered compact roadster on the market, and with 415 angry horses on tap, it's about as close as you'll get to a modern-day Shelby Cobra -- with German manners, of course." -- Edmunds
- "For the lucky few who upgrade to the SLK55, the V8's insane rush of power will never get old. We promise." -- AutoTrader
- "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
Test drivers report that the rear-wheel drive SLK-Class rides smoothly and comfortably over imperfect roads and has nimble handling that makes it fun to drive on curvy back roads. Some think that the SLK isn't as agile as the Porsche Boxster, but are nonetheless pleased with its balance of ride comfort and handling agility. Critics mention that the steering feels a bit too heavy at low speeds, but the SLK's brakes are praised for their reassuring pedal feel and strong bite.
- "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
- "Although early SLK-Class convertibles were reluctant dance partners on curvy back roads, the current third-generation model has much sharper handling and most drivers will find it quite enjoyable. 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
- "The SLK still isn't as naturally light on its feet as a Boxster, but it's extremely satisfying to drive, especially in proper top-down form." -- Kelley Blue Book
- "The SLK strikes a better balance between ride comfort and handling prowess than most competitors. It carves through corners with excellent grip and minimal body roll. Steering's substantial feel at speed is marred by slow, clunky response when maneuvering in tight quarters. The brakes offer excellent pedal feel and strong stopping power." -- Consumer Guide (2013)