Video: Mercedes-Benz SLK250
Now that spring has finally sprung here in New England it’s convertible time. And our Mercedes-Benz SLK could be just the ticket to fresh air on the way home. We’ve enjoyed testing it against the competition, including the Audi TT, BMW Z4, and Porsche Boxster. The SLK is the Mercedes convertible for the merely rich, rather than the very rich (SL) or super-rich (SLS), making it a treat to which successful retirees or empty nesters can aspire.
The base-level SLK250 we bought has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission that brings out your inner Mario Andretti. It also came with the Premium 1 Package that includes an MP3 radio interface, Harman-Kardon surround-sound radio, satellite radio, heated seats, the company’s signature “Airscarf” system, and remote hardtop operation. All in, that boosted the price of our SLK from $42,500 to $48,045.
We’ve enjoyed all the Mercedes roadsters we’ve recently tested, and that includes this SLK. But it’s not without its faults: The engine can sound a little wheezy for a $48,000 convertible, though it delivers ample power. Touchy clutch take-up and a notchy shifter limit the driving fun. And the power folding hardtop, which the SLK popularized with its first generation in 1998, robs most of the trunk space.
On the other hand, the SLK makes a nice, affordable alternative to the iconic SL. Its folding hardtop keeps the interior quiet and snug when it’s up, and doesn’t compromise visibility as most soft-tops do. Available V6 and V8 engines are smoother and more powerful, though they boost the price significantly. The Airscarf system, which blows warm air on your neck, makes this the perfect roadster for sunny, crisp spring mornings – and we’re not blowing hot air.