We car writers tend to have a occupationally limited focus. Autoblog's stock in trade is automotive news and new car reviews, which often steers us towards forgetting existing models about 17 minutes after we've driven it a second time. You guys like reading about the new hotness, too, so it tends to work out. But the wonderful fact is that every car sold today will have a rich/interesting/heroic/tragic life for years to come. And, occasionally, even obsolete makes and models stay interesting. That was my thinking when this 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK250 came into our fleet. Set to be replaced with the SLK300, with that car's 2.0-liter turbo'd engine, the 250 is already running out the clock in Mercedes dealerships. What's more, my test car came complete with – are you ready for this? – a six-speed manual transmission. I can't tell you the last exact model of Benz that I'd driven with a stick shift, but I can assure you that its engine was carbureted. Considering the odd spec and replacement timeline, my question, as I drove the SLK for a week: was this a unicorn destined to be a driver's dearest find? Driving Notes: Let me not bury the lede any more: the six-speed isn't a game changer for the SLK. Yeah, over the course of a few days I came to be comfortable with the slightly vague clutch and notchy shifter, but I didn't love it. I went blasting on a few back roads, and found the hand-shaker more involving to use than the standard auto, but it was long to throw and not overly precise when I moved up and down between second, third, and fourth. On the other hand, the old 1.8T under the SLK250's bonnet still felt well matched with the base SLK's boulevardier mission. Output of 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque doesn't give enough gumption to move the hardtop German lump with authority, but it was still enough to be quick off the line and offer easy highway passing. The turbo four didn't sound bad under full throttle, either, but it did rattle like old plumbing when idling in the driveway. Speaking of rattling: the adjustable and Airscarf-equipped seats did a lot of it. (Airscarf, you'll recall, is M-B's brand name for an in-seat fan that blows hot air on your neck; it's nice on a cold day.) Though comfortable and mildly bolstered, the driver's chair made all kinds of funny noises when I got in, got out, or cornered over 20 miles per hour. That's rough for a luxury car with 6,000 (or so) miles on it. Moving back to the positive side of the ledger, I was happily reminded that this SLK chassis feels great in a kind of "Sunday drive" mode. Find a good road, click on the midly stiffer sport suspension setting, and drive quickly but not crazily, and the car will reward with pleasing maneuverability without sacrificing much ride quality. Compared with other sports coupes in the …
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|MPG||21 City / 29 Hwy|
|Power||302 @ 6500 rpm|
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