2009 Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG

July 25, 2008
0807 02 Z+2009 Mercedes Benz SLK55 AMG+front Three Quarter View
With two seats and trunk space for only two modest bags and a cooler, the Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG may not be the best car to travel in during a long July 4th weekend. Don't get me wrong - I love the SLK's signature retractable hardtop. It can be lowered at a traffic light in 21 seconds, and nothing feels better than watching fireworks from the seat of a convertible. But the extra trunk space dedicated for roof sheetmetal prevents passengers from hauling any sizeable goods or weekend purchases.
0807 01 Z+2009 Mercedes Benz SLK55 AMG+rear Three Quarter View
Inside, the SLK 55 cabin isn't much more practical. The hardtop does buffer a bit more sound than a conventional fabric roof, but wind and road noise still makes carrying on any type of conversation difficult. The AMG car's low-profile tires and 18-inch wheels don't provide much comfort on highways either, as passengers feel every small crack, bump, and surface change. Steering feel, however, is almost perfect for this luxury roadster - heavy enough, but responsive and easy to maneuver. Using the glovebox Ipod adapter and user interface is a breeze (I'd say it even beats the Infiniti G37's interface), and the seat-mounted, "warm air scarf" is useful for those with shorter hair.
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Still, the real reason people will pay $65,000 for this car is under the hood, and they will be making quite an entertaining investment. The hand-built, 355-hp AMG engine (ours was signed by builder "Sasha") feels limitless at normal cruising speeds. Want to blow around a merging semi? No problem - 376 lb-ft of torque is available at 4000 rpm. And don't worry about flying too fast for too long because AMG Speedshift helps slow you down (albeit, sometimes too intrusively). A drawback to this performance is, of course, (premium-only) fuel economy. On a 300-mile highway trip, I observed 22.6 mpg, which was better than the 20 mpg EPA estimate. Around town though, I saw numbers below the 14 mpg EPA estimate.
Exterior design seemed to appeal to others more than it did me. Obviously, the gigantic Mercedes-Benz logo attracts attention in traffic, but I don't think many notice the extra AMG front lip and quad exhaust tips.
David Yochum, Assistant Editor
0807 03 Z+2009 Mercedes Benz SLK55 AMG+rear Three Quarter View
This SLK is a blast to drive with the top down. I did notice more wind buffeting than in an SL, but I don't mind a windy roadster. I think it takes too long to raise and lower the top, but these folding hardtops are pretty complicated. Not all cars can transform as quickly as a Boxster or a cloth-top Miata.
The supercharged AMG V-8 sounds great and produces lots of power. I very much felt like I was driving an SL63 AMG's little brother, which is a good thing. The power isn't as insane, there isn't nearly as much exhaust noise, but, according to the in-dash reading, I averaged about double the number of miles per gallon in the SLK than I did in the SL. Sure, the two cars appeal to different buyers, but both do the AMG name proud.
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My only complaint is how tight the cabin is. I'm a little over 6' tall and I felt cramped. The much larger SL fits me better, but costs a whole lot more. A better comparison is the Porsche Boxster and I'm not as cramped in there, either. Plus the Boxster is more fun on a curvy road. Still, even the Boxster S doesn't pack as much wallop as this AMG car.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor


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