It’s morning in August. You stir slowly, luxuriating in the sublime comfort of your bed just a moment longer before opening your eyes. The warm breeze chases rays of sunshine across your room, rousing you from your slumber. It’s Sunday and you have no obligations or duties today. No tasks, errands or chores require your attention that can’t be put off for another time.
Today is all about you.
And then you remember one more glorious thing: parked in the garage downstairs is a German built roadster wearing a coveted three-point star on its nose.
Life is very good.
It all sounds glorious and romantic, but this is exactly the sort of day the Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 is designed for. Days like this where the hard-earned fruits of one’s considerable labours are savoured never seem to come frequently enough, which is why a car like the stylish little sports car from Stuttgart fits this fantasy so well.
Go on, pull on a pair of comfy jeans and a t-shirt, grab your favourite hat and the key and open that garage door.
There it is: a 5/8ths scale Mercedes SL – now likely indistinguishable from its larger and costlier sibling to all but the most ardent motoring literati. The SL looks serious and purposeful as a high-end roadster; this Mini-Me SLK is described as “cute”. Nevertheless, that 10-inch wide Mercedes logo dominating the grille ensures the common-folk know you’re a person of taste and means when driving such a machine.
Drop into the sculpted, leather-swathed bucket seat and shut the door. Like every other Mercedes-Benz, there’s a tomb-like hush that engulfs the cabin prior to the ignition awakening the 3.5 L V6 and its accompanying 302 horses.
The steering wheel is meaty and sculpted to direct your hands right where they belong for spirited driving. The dash – finished with rich, soft touch plastics and high-gloss, dark stained Ash trim is punctuated with a quartet of large cross-hatched ball vents and the 7-inch display portion of Benz’s familiar COMAND multimedia interface.
Flip up a portion of the arm-rest lid to reveal the hidden U-shaped lever that lets the smells and sounds of summer reach you once more while the power roof does its origami flips and folds into the trunk, all within 20 seconds.
2014 Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 headlight, wheel, dashboard, roof controls. Click image to enlarge
A day like this deserves a proper inception at your favourite gourmet coffee shop, and en route, the SLK relishes the role of boulevard cruiser. With the Dynamic Handling Package suspension set to “Soft”, sharp pavement creases and crevices do not upset the drum-tight body structure, though the ride is more sporting-taut than S-Class supple.
Airflow and buffeting are sufficiently managed at around-town speeds, especially with the AIRGUIDE flaps rotated into position to help redirect flow around the passengers. This enables casual conversation without the indignity of shouting at your companion.
The 11-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system fills the tiny cockpit with whatever favourite feel-good music you choose and with incredible power and clarity and has no trouble overpowering the wind noise.