Cute. It moved with grace, swiftness and a death
grip at speed on undulating, sun parched Southwestern
roads. Its acknowledged luxury panache even won
a pair of us instant reentry into the United States
without question after an unintended, errant exit
just feet from the Mexican border.
was SLK some eight years ago when it first emerged
as Mercedes-Benz's answer to the emerging roadster
phenomenon. Since then, some critics have suggested
it didn't have the appropriate guts to reach true
sports car pinnacle status. But that was before
some Teutonic designers went back to the drawing
board to rethink what being an M-B really meant.
The result, first offered a year ago, was a totally
redone, gutsier and definitely more intense looking
SLK. Still a drop-top roadster, but with more
hormones under its beltline.
started with SLK350, a 3.5-liter, 268-horsepower
V-6 powerplant with a wide torque curve for extra
grunt at launch time a year ago. An upmarket 355-HP,
high-performance SLK55 AMG V-8 rounded out the
enthusiasts' stable. After all, a road runner
is what a roadster is all about. For 2006 Mercedes-Benz
added the SLK280, a 3.0-liter V-6 entry level
model, for those who previously had only lusted
in the wings. With a low- to mid-$40 K entry range,
expect more SLKs on the road, but not enough to
diminish the glow.
wide open runs, there's improved braking, ESP
stability control and improved rack-and-pinion
steering. Six-speed manuals or seven-speed automatics
are on V-6 models. The AMG gets Touch Shift automatic
redesigned SLK was Formula One race circuit inspired,
with a slightly larger, lean forward slope, with
arrow-shaped nose, deeply inclined windshield,
high haunched rear and dual exhausts. The interior
gained larger gauges and contrasting trim. Dimensions
were expanded enough to give a super long-legged
Stacy Keebler enough behind-the-wheel stretch
space to stay in celebrity dancing trim.
Going from closed to open is a treat for the technically
curious. With the press of a button various panels
and hinges move to pack the hardtop neatly away.
If weather turns cool, heated seats and an "AirScarf"
of warm air keep occupants comfy, even at highway
speeds. Keeping cozy was never more fun.