For 2005, Mercedes-Benz’s SLK-Class roadster gets a complete makeover. Two models are offered, the SLK350 and the SLK55 AMG.

An all-new chassis slips under both. The 350 gets a brand-new 3.5-litre V6, while the 55 shares its 5.5-litre V8 with AMG variants in the C-Class and CLK-Class. Styling is all-new as well, borrowing its aggressive sloping nose from the SLR. The top retracts in 22 seconds, three seconds faster than its predecessor, and the seats can be ordered with Airscarf, a neck-level heater to keep everything warm when motoring topless in cool weather.

The 350’s V6 makes 268 hp and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Features include staggered-size aluminum alloy wheels (7.5 inches wide with 225/45R17 tires in front, 8.5 inches with 245/40R17 in rear), leather upholstery, single-CD player, cruise control, auto-dimming mirrors, automatic climate control, front knee and side air bags, Baby Smart child seat recognition system, dual tubular micro-alloy steel roll bars and front and rear fog lamps. Available options include heated seats with Airscarf, DVD-based navigation system, bi-xenon headlamps with washers, heated steering wheel, six-disc CD and Mercedes’ new seven-speed automatic transmission with TouchShift.

The AMG’s 362 hp version comes standard with the seven-speed and wheel-mounted shifter buttons, and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, Nappa leather upholstery, and heated seats. Optional items include Airscarf, navigation system, bi-xenon headlamps, six-disc CD and rain-sensing wipers.

The 2005 SLK is a vast improvement over the 2004 model; its chassis has 46 per cent more torsional stiffness, its steering is variable-assist rack-and-pinion to the previous model’s recirculating ball, and the naturally-aspirated 55 AMG produces 30 more hp than the supercharged V6 2004 SLK32 AMG it replaces. The new V6’s 268 hp is 53 hp more than the 2004 SLK320, and makes its maximum torque from 2400 to 5000 rpm. The only complaint is a seating position that isn’t necessarily the best for shorter drivers. If Hyundai can give you a power seat in a car that’s $27,400, it’s hard to understand why it’s an extra $1,895 in a $64,500 Mercedes.

The SLK is built in Bremen, Germany.

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