The original Mercedes-Benz SLK was a big hit, with its retractable hardtop roof. Each successive version of the SLK has been given a more serious edge. In line with that trend, powerful available engines and muscular styling make the 2013 the most aggressive SLK ever.
You'll Like The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class If...
If part of your self-image requires a great-looking convertible with a luxurious interior, it’ll be easy to see yourself in a 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK.
You May Not Like The 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class If...
If you play basketball (or even first base) for a living, you probably need more stretch-out room than the SLK offers. And if you need to carry much stuff, a 2-seater whose hardtop retracts into the trunk space doesn’t make a lot of sense.
The Mercedes-Benz SLK was completely re-engineered for 2012, and rolls into 2013 with only minor upgrades. Mercedes’ next-generation mbrace2 telematics system, with its many Internet-based features and applications, is now standard.
The 2013 SLK might not be as pure a sports car as some of its competitors, but that’s a benefit in terms of comfort and convenience. The luscious interior is Mercedes-Benz deluxe in every way. One highlight is the thick-section, 3-spoke steering wheel that is flat-bottomed to help clear your thighs. The main gauges are two big analog circles that flank a screen displaying a wide variety of driver-selectable information. A twist-and-push electronic controller on the console operates audio and navigation features – not immediately intuitive, but it works.
Mercedes suggests the exterior design of the 2013 SLK is both futuristic and retro, and it actually is, in a way: It looks fresh and modern, yet there’s no mistaking where it came from. The SLK borrows some cues, particularly its big-grille face, from the SLS AMG supercar. Though not a particularly large car, its stance and nose-down rake help establish a look of substance. And of course, the iconic retractable hardtop, unlike a soft canvas convertible top, means the body lines always look clean and finished, whether the top is up or down.
Mercedes-Benz has worked hard to build sports car credibility into the new SLK, the third generation of the car. Each edition of the SLK has upped the performance ante as Mercedes-Benz engineers try to put to rest the longstanding notion that the SLK is more a personal-luxury car than a sports car. Certainly the SLK has all the slick moves of a performance machine with good acceleration (the SLK350 noticeably more so than the SLK250), confident roadholding and taut, responsive steering. Thanks to a well-tuned suspension and substantial tires on 18-inch wheels, the SLK’s cornering grip and stability are impressive. It’s maybe still not as naturally light on its feet as a Porsche Boxster, but very satisfying to drive. Of course, the V8-engined SLK55 AMG with its 415 horsepower and sports-tuned suspension is an altogether different animal. A performance beast, really.
The base 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK250 starts at a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $43,805. The V6-powered SLK350 runs $56,305, and the 415-horsepower SLK55 AMG costs $68,895. Loading on options and accessories (Sport Package, Lighting Package, interior Trim Package, Multimedia Package, Magic Sky Control roof, and more), an SLK250 can approach $60,000, an SLK350 can top $70,000, and the SLK55 AMG can blow past $85,000. The Mercedes roadster is a different animal than the Porsche Boxster (or the BMW Z4 or Audi TT), but its starting price is comparable (except for the V8-powered AMG). To see what SLK buyers in your area are paying, check out the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com. In terms of retained value over time, we expect the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK models to run about on par with the Porsche Boxster and others in the segment.
The SLK seats aren’t just extremely comfortable, they are also covered in sun-reflecting leather that reduces the rate at which the seats heat up when the car is parked with the top down. Also standard is an audio system with a USB port and Bluetooth, and Mercedes’ mbrace2 telematics with many new Internet- and smartphone-accessible features. Standard safety equipment includes a vast complement of airbags (knee, head, thorax), a driver-drowsiness monitor and active head restraints.
The optional COMAND system ups the audio ante with a 7-inch color display (standard is 5.8-inch), hard-drive-based GPS navigation, 10GB of music storage, and a 6-disc CD/DVD changer. The navigation system offers 3D maps and the ability to show alternate routes before you choose one. An optional SiriusXM feature provides real-time traffic information and weather forecasts. Also available are burl walnut trim, the Magic Sky Control adjustable-tint roof, bi-xenon headlights that look into curves, and a Dynamic Handling Package with continuously adjusting suspension and driver-selectable modes.
RETRACTABLE HARDTOPThe SLK started the retractable-hardtop craze and it’s still setting the pace. Buyers can select from three different top panels: standard body-colored polycarbonate, a panorama roof of tinted see-through polycarbonate, and the Magic Sky Control with variable tint you control electrically. AIRSCARF & AIR GUIDESIn a bid to make top-down motoring a more pleasant experience in cooler weather, M-B engineers have provided adjustable Air Guide deflectors on each roll bar and the Airscarf system, which delivers warm air to your neck from an outlet in the headrest.
Under the Hood
When you’re going up against established players like the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z4, 201 horsepower seems a little underwhelming, but the base 2013 SLK250 makes the most of it with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmission. Powering the SLK350 is a 60-degree 3.5-liter V6 featuring direct fuel injection and multi-spark ignition. It makes 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, and works with the 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission. That’s enough to rocket the SLK from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. The SLK55 AMG’s V8 makes a lusty 415 horsepower. Both the V6 and V8 engines now incorporate ECO start/stop to save a little fuel sitting at stoplights.1.8-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder201 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm229 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2,000-4,300 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg3.5-liter V6302 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm273 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3,500-5,250 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 mpg5.5-liter V8415 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm398 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 mpg
The original Mercedes-Benz SLK was a big hit, largely on the basis of its retractable hardtop roof, something the auto industry hadn’t seen since the Ford Skyliner of the 1950s. Each successive version of the SLK has been given a more serious edge, and now, powerful available engines and muscular styling make the 2013 the most aggressive SLK ever. At the same time, the SLK remains less of a pure sports car than the Porsche Boxster, stressing comfort and prestige over pure driving dynamics. But few SLK buyers will take issue with that.