Think of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK as two cars in one: a fun-loving open-air roadster and a cozy, secure coupe. The dual personality comes courtesy of a hardtop roof that retracts with the touch of a button. The SLK offers a trio of powertrains including a powerful V8, but favors comfort over the sharp handling of a BMW Z4.
You'll Like The 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class If...
If you want a premium roadster with a hardtop roof that protects against the elements and offers a supple ride that coddles on your daily commute, it's hard to beat the 2015 Mercedes SLK. If you're a fan of manual transmissions, the SLK250 is the only new Mercedes to offer one.
You May Not Like The 2015 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. In that case, the 4-seat Audi A5/S5 might appeal. If you seek a luxury roadster with razor-sharp handling, try the Porsche Boxster or BMW Z4.
Now in the midst of its 3rd-generation design that made the SLK look and feel more like the ultra-luxurious SL, Mercedes' entry-level roadster carries over unchanged for 2015.
The 2015 SLK roadster isn't as pure a sports car as some of its competitors, but that’s a benefit in terms of everyday comfort and convenience. Whether outfitted in the leather-like MB-Tex or the real thing, the SLK's seats are a pleasure to be in. Audio and climate controls are right where you want them and have a satisfying tactile quality that affirms you're piloting a premium car. Even with the top up it's easy to see the sky thanks to the standard panorama roof. As an upgrade, the innovative Magic Sky Control feature lets you adjust the level of tinting.
Given its hallmark feature of a power-operated retractable hardtop, the 2015 SLK-Class resembles either a sleek coupe or premium roadster. In either form, this 2-seat Mercedes shares character lines with its bigger, twice-the-price brother, the SL-Class roadster. At around 163 inches in length – about a half-foot longer than a Mazda MX-5 Miata – the SLK is compact and easy to park. Yet its long hood and low, wide stance give this tidy roadster a look of substance. Top-line SLK55 AMG versions up the performance aesthetics with tinted headlight housings, quad exhaust outlets and a small rear spoiler.
Mercedes' compact roadster comes in three distinct flavors thanks to its trio of engine choices, but all feel solid on the road, have taut and responsive steering, and still return a plush highway ride. Where they diverge is in the Department of Power. Even the SLK250 with its turbocharged 1.8-liter 4-cylinder is quick (0-60 mph arrives in 6.5 seconds), but Sport mode should be engaged to wring the most out of it. In Normal mode, that base engine is nagged by turbo lag. V6 models are noticeably quicker (0-60 mph in 5.4 seconds), while the V8-powered SLK AMG model blazes (0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds). The SLK still isn't as naturally light on its feet as a Boxster or Z4, but it's extremely satisfying to drive, especially with the top down and the tunes up.
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at a tempting $44,875. But like its German rivals, options on this Mercedes are equally tempting and they don't come cheap. For instance, all but three exterior paint colors add over $700 to the tab. Check enough boxes, and even a base SLK250 can broach $60,000. The top-line SLK55 AMG starts just under $72,000 and can reach the mid-$80,000 range. At its starting price, the SLK undercuts the more powerful BMW Z4 by a few thousand dollars, and the even more potent Porsche Boxster by a few thousand more. Before buying, be sure to check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying for their new Mercedes roadster. The 2015 SLK's resale value is expected to be good. Four-cylinder variants are predicted to best hold their value but still match the Porsche Boxster.
With an entry price around $45,000, a base 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK250 comes with a 6-speed manual transmission, 5.8-inch infotainment display, 8-speaker AM/FM/CD/HD Radio audio with a USB port and Bluetooth streaming, auto-dimming mirrors and power seats. In addition to a stronger V6 engine and standard automatic transmission, the SLK350 adds heated leather seats, the Airscarf heating system and harman/kardon sound system. The V8-powered SLK55 AMG features enhancements like larger brakes, upgraded 18-inch tires and performance-oriented transmission and suspension. Among all models' safety features is Attention Assist, which monitors for driver drowsiness.
Many options are available to expand the 2015 Mercedes SLK's comfort and enjoyment. Among them are a Multimedia Package with navigation, a 7-inch LCD screen and a 10-gig music bank, and the Driver Assistance Package offering blind-spot monitoring and Mercedes' Distronic Plus cruise control with automatic braking. The Magic Sky Control roof is a trick feature that turns the panorama glass roof from transparent to tinted to block the sun's rays during the day and let in the moon's glow at night while the top is up. Mercedes-Benz's Designo line offer ultra-high-end exterior paint, interior upholstery options and more.
The SLK-Class brought retractable hardtops into the mainstream when the roadster debuted in 1998, and it's still setting the pace. Such a setup delivers a delicious automotive duality: In less than 20 seconds, the SLK can transform from buttoned-down coupe to sun-seeking convertible.
AIRSCARF & AIR GUIDES
In a bid to make top-down motoring more pleasant in milder weather, Mercedes engineers have provided adjustable Air Guide draft deflectors on each rollbar and the Airscarf system, which delivers warm air to your neck from an outlet in the headrest.
Under the Hood
In base form, the SLK's turbocharged 4-cylinder engine makes 201 horsepower and is mated to a 6-speed manual transmission or optional 7-speed automatic. Except for the aforementioned turbo lag, the engine should suffice for most drivers, though we must point out that the base powerplant in the BMW Z4 makes 240 horsepower. Moving up to the V6 in the SLK350 nets 302 horsepower, making it a capable performer. Speed freaks can get plenty of it in the top-line SLK55, which stuffs a 5.5-liter V8 under the hood that offers 415 horsepower. Those last two engines are exclusively mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission and feature an ECO start/stop to save a little fuel at stoplights. All SLK roadsters are rear-wheel drive and drink 91-octane gasoline.
1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4
201 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
229 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000-4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/32 mpg (manual), 23/33 mpg (automatic)
302 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
273 lb-ft of torque @ 3,500-5,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/29 mpg
415 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
398 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 mpg
Think of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK as two cars in one: a fun-loving open-air roadster and a cozy, secure coupe. The dual personality comes courtesy of a hardtop roof that retracts with the touch of a button. As with its main competitor the BMW Z4, this ability to transform gives this small 2-seater a degree more practicality. Mercedes' compact convertible touts a plusher ride compared to its more dynamic BMW rival yet still offers a good blend of power and handling. For drivers seeking performance above and beyond that found in the base turbocharged 4-cylinder SLK250 or V6-powered SLK350, there's the top-line SLK55 AMG model that packs a 416-horsepower V8. Fundamental to all SLK luxury roadsters are the prestige and pampering inherent in Mercedes-Benz vehicles.