For 2006, the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class receives a new model, the SLK280, which joins the SLK350 and SLK55 AMG that are carried over from 2005.

Other changes include automatic climate control with digital display as standard equipment on the SLK350; optional headlamp washers can only be ordered with the bi-Xenon headlamps package; the optional extended-mobility tires include a tire puncture warning; and Storm Red exterior colour replaces Firemist Red.

The new SLK280 is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 mated to a six-speed manual transmission that can be optioned to a seven-speed automatic with Touch Shift manual mode. Features include staggered-width 16-inch alloy wheels with high-performance tires, auto-dimming rearview and driver’s side mirrors, knee airbags, leather sport seats, four-way adjustable steering column, dual-zone climate control, CD player with nine speakers and rubber-studded aluminum pedals. An optional AMG Sport Package can be added, which includes 17-inch alloy wheels, lowered sport suspension, and when the automatic is ordered, wheel-mounted shift buttons.

The SLK350 uses a 3.5-litre V6 with six-speed manual or optional seven-speed automatic, and adds staggered 17-inch wheels, perforated front brake rotors with four-piston composite calipers, garage door opener and digital dual-zone climate control.

The SLK55 AMG uses a 5.5-litre V8 that comes exclusively with the seven-speed automatic, and adds eight-way power AMG-design heated sport seats, SmartKey memory feature, parameter steering, AMG-tuned lowered suspension, AMG-design lower bodywork and rear lip spoiler, and interior ambient lighting system.

Options on the SLK280 and SLK350 include bi-Xenon headlamps, premium sound system, and heated seats.

The new SLK280 is an excellent way to get into this McLaren-styled roadster, offering excellent performance at a relatively lower price tag but with most of the amenities. On all models, the roof is a retractable hardtop, and cool temperatures can be tamed with an optional “air scarf” that directs heated air to keep one’s ears warm. The only complaint is a seating position that isn’t necessarily the best for shorter drivers; at this price, it’s hard to understand why you have to pay extra to get a power seat that companies like Hyundai can throw in as basic equipment.

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