Mercedes-Benz has plenty to offer in the luxury roadster market. Many competitors out there can offer both the top-down fun of a light and lithe roadster and all the amenities of a luxury-German cruiser, but few manage to combine them as seamlessly as the SLK300. When it comes to the SLK range, Mercedes-Benz has all the bases covered. A firm yet comfortable platform, complete with smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic transmission, a mesmerizing retractable hardtop, comfortable interior with all the appointments befitting a Mercedes-Benz and heart-stopping looks outside. In a nutshell, this car dishes up just the right mix for fun and comfort – perfect for quick day trips or slightly longer rides away for the weekend. Under the hood is a mostly capable 228 horsepower 3.0-liter V-6 engine with 221 lb-ft of torque that can be coupled to either a manual six- or seven-speed automatic transmission. While the SLK300 may lack the performance teeth of some of its muscle-bound brothers, it provides an on-road experience unmatched by just about anything else out there.
What's to Like
From the gorgeous hood and front fascia to the sculpted rear exhaust, this car is incredibly handsome. Likewise, the interior offers real wood accents, heaps of leather and quality materials everywhere you look. Plus, the optional eight-way adjustable power seats and four-way power adjustable steering column help to fit the SLK to anyone’s size.
What's Not to Like
Though 228 horsepower may seem more than sufficient for a small car, the SLK300 lacks the punch we’d like out of such a sporty looking vehicle. The matter is only made worse by the seven-speed automatic transmission, which can become befuddled under hard driving. That said, if you’re after a cruiser to explore the sloping hills of Napa Valley, this is your ride.
DriverSide Driving Impressions
The SLK300 is one of those rare convertibles that can be driven all 12 months of the year, regardless of where you live. That’s thanks largely to the roadster’s retractable hardtop, which phenomenally insulates from wind noise and the cold. Mercedes-Benz has also graced this roadster with heated seats that keep the occupants comfortable top up or down. As a car that’s as comfortable darting down the freeway as it is lunging through the twists and turns of a country road, the SLK300 sports a well-planted platform. The feeling of stability is bolstered by a well-weighted steering wheel and Mercedes-Benz’s power steering that reduces assist at higher speeds. Unfortunately, the car’s hefty 3,200 curb weight comes to bear on its handling during spirited driving.
Engine and Drivetrain
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK 300 is powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 engine with 228 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque, mated to a six-speed manual transmission as standard. An optional seven-speed automatic transmission is also available and provides near-seamless shifts under normal driving conditions. This roadster sticks true to the European drop-top mantra, meaning it’s a rear-driver only.
Interesting Vehicle Features and Options
Like most Mercedes-Benz products, the SLK is filled with creature comforts. The most interesting of those has to be the car’s AirScarf – a system that blows adjustable levels of warm air on both the driver and the passenger’s necks. It may seem like an easy gimmick, but the trick makes a world of difference with the top down on a chilly day. In the end, it makes the convertible that much more useable, regardless the weather.
Key Technology Evaluation
This is one drop-top that’s loaded with tech. The SLK comes standard with a five-inch color LCD display, Bluetooth and a six-disc CD changer, though there’s a slew of optional equipment available as well. Depending on which package you choose, a voice command system can help you handle hands-free calling, music selection and navigation. Unlike some cumbersome systems, you simply have to say your destination instead of spelling it out. It also understands colloquialisms like ‘yeah’ for yes. It’s a simple change that makes life much easier.
Green Evaluation/Gas Mileage
The SLK300 manages to get around 17 mpg city and 26 mpg highway when equipped with a manual transmission, though the seven-speed automatic will bump in-town driving up to 19 mpg. While not the greatest in the world, the numbers are respectable for a six-cylinder engine.
A Closer Look: Vehicle Details
From the driver’s seat there’s a surprising amount of visibility for a retractable hardtop, though the low seating position and the bulging hood make for interesting moments while parking. The car’s interior is incredibly comfortable thanks to the eight-way adjustable leather seats and the well-positioned controls throughout the cabin.
The SLK borrows most of its styling from the mighty SLR roadster, including its dynamic, lunging nose. While the rear of the car looks a little truncated with the top up, once folded under the rear deck lid, the roadster looks the part of a sexy convertible. Speaking of the top, Mercedes-Benz has outdone itself with a mesmerizing symphony of moving parts. The company has even included a button on the key fob to start the process so you can admire it from outside the vehicle. Very cool.
Market Segment and Pricing
Priced starting at $45,950, the SLK300 squares off against competition like the BMW
Z4 at $42,700, the Audi TT
3.2 Roadster at $45,900 and the Porsche Boxster
at $46,600. Though it may lack the outright brawn to take on track-heathens like the Boxster and the Z4, the SLK300 does boast a more comfortable ride – one that befits a car you wouldn’t mind driving to work every day.
What We Think
For those looking for a comfortable cruiser with bold styling, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK300 has plenty to offer. The interior is as comfortable as any in the company’s fleet, and the array of tech options make it as functional as it is fun. This car won’t take home any trophies from the drag strip anytime soon, but that’s what its big brothers the SLK350 and the SLK55 AMG Roadster are for.