NEW FOR 2009:

– Interior and exterior styling facelift
– New 300-horsepower "sport" engine for SLK350
– SLK280 renamed SLK300
– New variable-ratio direct steering
– New-generation audio and communications systems, including standard Bluetooth, MP3 and TeleAid, and optional COMAND APS with navigation and iPod interface
– Improved fuel economy for all engines
– New wheel designs
– Exterior colours: Prehnite Green Metallic and Palladium Silver Metallic added
– Trim colours: Light Burl Walnut and Dark Ash added
– Upholstery colours: Gullwing Red Leather, Black Nappa Leather and Natural Beige Nappa Leather added

For 2009, the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class undergoes several changes, including a redesign that includes new front bumper and rear apron, new wheels, exhaust pipes, mirrors with arrow-shaped integrated turn signals, darkened taillights and shorter aerial. On the mechanical side, the SLK350’s engine now makes 300 horsepower, compared to the previous 268 horsepower, and 266 lb-ft of torque to the previous 258. The SLK280 is renamed the SLK300, but with no change in engine or power. There are also new packages, including an AMG Sport Package for the SLK350 that adds an AMG Styling Package, 18-inch multi-spoke AMG wheels and wheel-mounted shifter paddles.

The SLK comes as the SLK300, with 3.0-litre V6 and six-speed manual or optional seven-speed automatic; as the SLK350, with 3.5-litre V6 and six-speed manual or optional seven-speed automatic; and as the SLK55 AMG, with 5.5-litre V8 and seven-speed AMG Speedshift automatic transmission.

Features on the SLK300 include 16-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, six-CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input jack, heated washers, two-stage rain-sensing wipers, sport seats, leather-wrapped multifunction wheel, leather upholstery, express up/down windows, rearview and driver’s side auto-dimming mirrors, cruise control, garage door opener, SmartKey system, head/thorax side airbags, and tinted glass.

The SLK350 adds 17-inch alloy wheels, bi-Xenon headlamps with washers and cornering lights, and heated seats.

The SLK55 AMG adds 18-inch alloy wheels, AMG sport suspension, media interface with iPod and USB connections, Harman/Kardon Logic7 surround sound stereo, SIRIUS satellite radio, COMAND APS with hard-drive navigation system and voice control, perforated front brake discs, AMG styling package, ten-way power-adjustable seats with memory, wheel-mounted shifter paddles, AMG Nappa leather upholstery, AIRSCARF heating vents, fabric windscreen, and power tilt and telescopic column with memory.

Styled similarly to the McLaren roadster, but without its price, the SLK-Class offers open-air motoring, a weather-tight retractable roof, and fine performance, especially with the upgrade to the SLK350’s engine and the new variable steering. While still nowhere near compact-car numbers, fuel economy improves slightly, and prices drop from the 2008 models.

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