2014 Mercedes SLK 55 AMG Review
Car Tested: 2014 Mercedes SLK 55 AMG
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 1,63,23,340/-
The Mercedes SLK 55 AMG can make anyone’s hair curl with its monstrous performance and exhilarating soundtrack.
Compact roadsters are quite desirable nowadays, especially in India. Reason being, they are reasonably priced compared to full-fledged sports cars, they boast a similar road presence and are practical to some extent in traffic conditions like ours. Yes, we are talking about the Mercedes SLK, which we explored last year and were impressed with its styling, performance and practicality but this time it arrives with the AMG badging all around. Does the Mercedes SLK 55 AMG break the stereotype of a compact roadster and justifies the AMG tech with a full grown performance centric V8 engine? We find out.
Motor Quest: The SLK moniker from the Mercedes SLK stands for Sportlich (sport), Leicht (light) und Kurz (short) in German. The first generation Mercedes SLK AMG had 3.2-litre engine and was known as SLK 32 AMG. The second generation SLK AMG came with a 5.4-litre engine and the current SLK 55 AMG was launched internationally in 2011.
Exteriors – The Mercedes SLK 55 AMG gets some spruced up racy exterior styling cues to differentiate itself from the regular Mercedes SLK 350. The front profile reveals a smoked headlamp cluster with a revised front bumper featuring a larger airdam and repositioned LED daytime running lights. You can notice the compact size of the SLK from the side profile. It gets black alloy wheels that make a good contrast with the white colour and more pronounced side skirts. The V8 AMG badging can be noticed on the front fenders.
Coming to the rear section of the car, it gets a boot mounted slim spoiler, AMG badging, rear diffuser and quad exhausts, against dual exhausts on the regular SLK. The overall silhouette of the roadster looks aggressive and sporty but its best enjoyed with the roof down. The Vario-roof, as Mercedes likes to call it, takes a matter of seconds to fold and unfold. The street presence of the SLK is immense with the roof down. Stop at a signal and people around you start clicking pictures within no time and some even ask for a ride.
Interiors – The Mercedes SLK 55 AMG is a low slung car and you have to crouch down to get inside. Once you are inside, the roadster pampers you with a cocooned layout and superb quality interiors. First thing you notice is the AMG flat-bottom steering wheel that feels incredible to hold with supportive contours. The interior styling is derived from its godfather, the Mercedes SLS AMG that includes recessed black dashboard styling with circular AC vents and sporty red colour treatment on the seats and door trims. The layout remains the same as the regular SLK but you’ll find carbon-fibre trims on the centre console and doors of the SLK 55 AMG compared to the brushed silver trims of the regular model.
Another AMG specific thing you’ll notice on top of the dashboard is a neatly placed IWC Schaffhausen clock. That’s because the Swiss watchmaker is the Official Engineering Partner of the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team. The famous COMAND system is offered in the SLK 55 AMG with a 17.8 cm display and a rotary knob to control the system. It features USB, AUX, DVD and Bluetooth connectivity with navigation system and 10 GB in-built hard disc. The system is user friendly but in this day and age of touch screens it could have done with less buttons on the centre console. The Harman Kardon system churns out fantastic audio with 11 speakers.
In terms of comfort, you get extremely supportive sports seats with every possible electric adjustment. Shoulder room is adequate with a well sized arm-rest for added convenience. Headroom is decent with the roof up and you also have a panaromic vario-roof that comes with Magic Sky Control. With a touch of a button it allows 100 percent of sunlight or 75 percent can be let out to darken the interior. Enough cubby holes are provided to keep knick knacks and it offers 225-litres of boot luggage space with the roof down.
Performance – Powering the Mercedes SLK 55 AMG is a monstrous 5.5-litre naturally aspirated V8 engine that unleashes 421 horses at 6800 RPM and 540 Nm of immense twisting force at 4500 RPM. Crank up the engine and it settles in a beautiful deep-toned idle after a throaty initial roar. The growling AMG exhaust and engine note is best enjoyed with the roof down. With a 5.5-litre engine plonked onto a light and compact body you might expect sudden and violent delivery of power, that’s not the case here. The throttle response is linear and smooth, which gets dramatic when you play hard with the pedal. Of course it is breathtakingly fast when you mash the throttle. It reaches 0-100 km/hr in a mere 4.6 seconds.
The SLK 55 AMG gathers pace relentlessly from the word go and you will enjoy the entire rev range until its 7000 RPM redline. Even while cruising at triple digit speeds, if you put your foot down, the beast gives you a nice pushback into your seat. There are three modes to choose from – Comfort, Sport and Manual. The comfort mode keeps the engine relaxed with smooth cog shifting while the sport mode liberates the frolic nature of the motor, revving high in each gear with crisp and dead-on throttle response. Shifting gears manually with the steering mounted paddles is fun but the 7-speed transmission hesitates to downshift at higher revs. The performance roadster can also cruise easily at 1900 RPM in seventh gear at 100 km/hr.
Driving Dynamics – The Mercedes SLK 55 AMG is around 200 kgs heavier than its regular counterpart and when you throw it around corners you can’t feel the extra bulk. The handling is quite agile and it darts into corners sprightly but the steering feels quite numb at the centre and doesn’t communicate precisely as we would have liked. However, the rear-wheel drive setup lets you have tremendous fun around the twisties while the front-end is glued to the line and the wide tyres provide impressive grip while cornering.
While the AMG sports suspension with AMG-specific springs, dampers and torsion bar helps with it’s agile nature, it makes the matters worse for our roads. The ride is stiff and with low profile tyres you have to be careful on broken section of roads, a case with every sports car. High speed stability is confidence inspiring and lane changing is an effortless job at high speeds. The pedal bite isn’t as crisp as we would have liked and the SLK 55 AMG has some nose dive under heavy braking, otherwise stopping performance is good enough to tame those wild horses.
Safety – Safety features of the Mercedes SLK 55 AMG include PRE-SAFE, ADAPTIVE BRAKE, ASR, ABS, Active Bonnet, PARKTRONIC, ATTENTION ASSIST and six airbags. With so much power on tap, Mercedes-Benz offers every possible protection system for the passengers as well as pedestrians. Imagine six airbags in a compact two-seater roadster, impressive attention to safety. In India, some manufacturers don’t even offer ABS and airbags as an option in seven seater cars, such is the contrast.
Verdict – The Mercedes SLK 55 AMG is a special roadster that exhibits smart styling but has some serious performance to offer. It is ripped with 8-cylinders under the hood that can make someone’s blood run cold with its brutal soundtrack and crazy acceleration. At the same time, the SLK 55 AMG pampers you with its high-tech entertainment system and top notch safety equipment. The pleasure you get when the roof is down and wind is blowing through your hair is extraordinary. On the other hand, the SLK 55 AMG has quite a stiff ride for our roads and fluctuating weather conditions of our country means you’ll put the roof down rarely. So this monster is made for those who have some extra moolah and a racing track nearby for occasional track days.
The Mercedes SLK 55 AMG is not a regular roadster but an extremely powerful sportscar that comes with well engineered AMG performance. The two-seater convertible offers excellent quality interiors with a long list of safety features. However, it’s for the well-heeled who can spend extra to enjoy the roof-down experience and track-days once in a while.
* Sassy Styling
* Strong V8 Engine Performance
* AMG Soundtrack
* Safety Equipment
What’s Not So Cool
* Steering Feedback