2016 SLK-Class New Car Test Drive
The Mercedes-Benz SLK is styled like a scaled-down SL-Class model. Fitted with a retractable hardtop, the SLK melds roadster excitement with Mercedes-Benz comfort.
Introduced for the 2011 model year, the SLK will be redesigned and renamed SLC for 2017.
For its part, the 2016 SLK gets a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine as standard equipment, replacing the previous 1.8-liter engine. The new 2.0-liter engine in the 2016 SLK300 makes 241 horsepower and 273 foot-pounds of torque and can reach 60 mph from a standing start in fewer than 6 seconds. Fuel efficiency has improved, and the SLK300 is EPA-rated at 25/32 mpg City/Highway.
No changes for the 2016 SLK350, which comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 302 horsepower, mating with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Topping the roster is the SLK55 AMG, packing a V8 that sends 415 horsepower to a sharper-shifting AMG Speedshift transmission.
For 2016, a newly available AMG Carbon Styling Package conveys a dark, technical, appearance. AMG bodywork is offered as an option for the 2016 SLK300.
With the retractable hardtop up, the cockpit is tight, quiet and refined, a little too tight for taller drivers. Mercedes-Benz offers distinct features to enhance the top-down experience, such as Airscarf, which blows warm air at the driver's neck.
Basically maintaining the same profile through its lifespan, the SLK evolved into quite a graceful sports car. Redesigned for 2012, the third-generation model slips between the original blocky design and the overly styled second generation.
Exterior dimensions classify the SLK as a subcompact, but it's actually a roadster with a traditional long hood and rear-wheel drive. Though aimed at a different audience that its main rivals, the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster, the SLK provides stimulating drivability for daily commutes, as well as the precision performance that can turn a weekend trek into an adventure. Because of the retracting roof, trunk space trails that of soft-top competitors.
All models include Attention Assist, which senses if you're growing drowsy. The mbrace2 telematics assists with roadside emergencies.
For 2016, blind-spot assistance is a standalone option. The Driver Assistance Package includes blind-spot assistance and adds Pre-Safe, Distronic Plus smart cruise control, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive highbeam assist. Optional front/rear parking sensors permit automated parallel-parking, with the driver operating only the gas and brake pedals.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK300 ($47,000) includes the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine; power windows, locks and mirrors; climate control; and leather seats. The standard sound system has eight speakers, a CD player, HD radio, USB port, and Bluetooth audio streaming.
SLK350 ($59,200) steps up to the 3.5-liter V6, with power seats, satellite radio, and a Harman/Kardon surround-sound system.
SLK55 AMG ($72,600) holds the 5.5-liter V8 and adds Solar Red ambient interior lighting, an IWC clock, Nappa leather upholstery, and various performance upgrades.