The Mercedes-Benz SLK has evolved from a blocky miniature Benz convertible to a well-designed, nimble roadster that turns heads in its own right.
There are 3 variants of the 2009 SLK: the SLK300, SLK350, and the potent SLK55 AMG, like the one we drove.
For 2009, the SLK receives a more pronounced center bulge in the hood hinting at a boost in overall horsepower. There's also an updated lower front fascia that, on the SLK300 and 350 bears close resemblance to an F1 wing.
The SLK55 AMG's front and rear fascia are even more aggressive for 2009. 18-inch alloy wheels, added vents, and lower side skirts also set the SLK55 apart from its SLK brethren while announcing its performance credentials.
The SLK55 comes equipped with larger AMG high-performance brakes, sport-tuned suspension, and a quad-tip exhaust system that bellows a powerful note.
Differences are not just superficial. While the SLK300 gets a 228 horsepower 3-liter V6, and the SLK350 gets a 300 horsepower 3.5-liter V6, the SLK55 sports a muscular 355 horsepower 5.5-liter V8, generating 376 pound feet of torque. Power on all SLK's is sent to the rear wheels through a 7-speed geartronic automatic transmission with steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. The SLK300 is also available with a 6-speed manual gearbox.
Fuel economy on the SLK ranges from a low of 16 miles per gallon city with the V8, to as much as 26 miles per gallon highway on both of the V6's.
All 2009 SLK's offer the enjoyment and versatility of a power retractable hard top. With the push of a button, the SLK goes from fun in the sun to secure protection from the elements... all in just 22 seconds.
Stepping into the SLK55, you'll find AMG doorsills, multifunction steering wheel, and options such as a DVD-based navigation system, bold black and red leather interior, and headrest mounted supplementary heaters for both occupants.
Safety equipment includes 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic stability program, and a full array of front, side, and knee area air bags.
Base MSRP for the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class roadster is $44,950. The high-performance SLK55 AMG with full options will top out at just under $80,000. The SLK is backed by a 4-year, 50,000-mile power train warranty.
Whether it's the fun of a top down roadster, or the security of a well-balanced hard-top sports car, the 2009 SLK is a driver's dream, inside and out.