These contrasting transmission modes combined with an engine that is dormant when off-boost, but very lively once boost pressure rises, makes for a very on-off driving experience; there is nothing tractable in its power delivery. A staff member who spent some time in the SLK 250 may have summed it up best by referring to this Mercedes-Benz as the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of automobiles. Keep it in Dr. Jekyll mode most of the time and the reward will be somewhere near Natural Resources Canada ratings of 9.0 L/100 km city and 6.0 L/100 km highway. Keep it in Mr. Hyde mode though, and something closer to my 10.8 L/100 km should be expected.
2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK 250. Click image to enlarge
Thanks to the Sport package, specifically the adjustable dampers and upgraded wheels, the car handles great and is very easy to predict in its movements. In fact, with the summer tires still installed during these near 0-degree C days, the car became quite slide-able around corners, but within complete control. Maybe there is some track-tool sharpness instilled in the SLK 250 after all. The steering feel is quite impressive, too, and better than expected for a non-dedicated sports car. To further assist responsiveness, the SLK’s curb weight is kept to just 1,500 kg, which is pretty svelte for a vehicle that features a retractable hardtop roof.
Yes, the SLK is indeed a convertible; something that is easily forgotten when the daytime high temperature reaches only 5 degrees Celsius. The fact I could forget the Mercedes-Benz was a roadster is a testament to the design. With the roof up, the SLK feels like any other sports coupe on the road. Sightlines are great and actually better than some two-seaters, thanks to the absence of a B-pillar on the side of the car. Cargo capacity, which is a decent 225 L when the top is down, grows to 335 L with the top up and is impressive for a sports car this size regardless of whether it has a fixed roof or not.
The completely manually operated front seat is fairly comfortable, but I find it hard to believe those buying an SLK will settle for having to pull their seat fore and aft or having to stick a TomTom GPS to their windshield. If one can afford the $60,000+ price tag of this SLK, why not spend $2,700 for the Premium Seating Package and $1,950 for the Navigation Package. What’s another $4,650 between friends, right?
Ultimately, the SLK 250 does prove to be a competent package but lacks some of the bang for the buck I found in the SLK 55 AMG (yup, I just called a $90,000 automatic roadster “good bang for the buck”). The SLK 250 is more about style and presence and can be optioned as luxuriously as you want (or don’t want) it to be. Those looking for a bargain luxury performance roadster will want to avoid some of the packages added to this car and stick to the manual-transmission base SLK 250.
Pricing: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG
Base price: $52,200
Options: $1,500 (7G-TRONIC Automatic Transmission), $1000 (Bi-Xenon Headlamps Package), $2,500 (Sport Package), $3,100 (Premium Package)
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $62,475
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