- Interior comfort and refinement
- Responsive V-6 engines
- Still the best top arrangement
- Steering is secure but not sporty
- Automatic transmission felt indecisive in Drive
- So much isolation isn’t as appealing in a roadster
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK doesn’t have the edgy driving experience of other roadsters, but it keeps you comfortable, looks fast, and is fast.
The SLK-Class is a small roadster model from Mercedes-Benz; it stands out from the crowd most notably because of its power retractable hardtop, styling cues inherited from the larger, more exclusive SL-Class roadster, and comfort-oriented features that aren't offered in other roadsters at this price.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class comes in three different models: The SLK280 is powered by a 228-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 engine, while the SLK350 features a 268-hp, 3.5-liter V-6, and high-performance enthusiasts can select the SLK55 AMG and its 355-hp engine for ultimate power. Transmission choices include a six-speed-manual--only offered on the base SLK280--and a seven-speed-automatic gearbox with TouchShift operation.
Beginning with the 2005 model, the SLK inherited more aggressive styling borrowed from both the Mercedes McLaren SLK supercar and the more graceful stance of the larger SL. The interior of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is adorned with brightwork, and the curvy dashboard flows into the door panels, while the instrument panel sports large, chronograph-style gauges. Seating is well bolstered, and actual seating space is ampler than in most roadsters.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK has good acceleration with either of its V-6 engines, but the more powerful SLK350 has enough punch to be entertaining even on the steepest and tightest mountain roads, though you'll have to control the shifts yourself as the transmission felt indecisive in Drive. The SLK isn't as fun to drive, since its steering lacks the sharp turn-in feel and edgy response of other roadsters. However, the SLK's ride is very settled and absorbent.
The power retractable hardtop in the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK really sets it apart from other roadsters; the clever arrangement can go up and down in just 22 seconds. The one drawback of the roof is that it occupies a designated area of the trunk when it's down, but there's still enough space for modest weekend bags. Wind buffeting with the top down is excellent, and to further boost comfort, there's an option called Airscarf that's tremendously useful on cold, sunny days. It channels warm air from vents located in the driver and passenger's headrests and allows top-down driving when you otherwise couldn't comfortably do so.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK rides on 17-inch alloy wheels and performance tires; a lowered sport suspension is offered for more aggressive driving, though at a sacrifice in ride comfort. A special version of the SLK350, the Ten Year Anniversary edition, gets an automatic gearbox, 17-inch wheels, special badging, and red stitching and trim on the interior.
For the power-hungry, there's also the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG model, which brings a 355-horsepower, 5.5-liter V-8 engine; a special Speedshift version of the seven-speed transmission; and other modifications such as a sport suspension, upgraded wheels and tires, and sport seats. Most noticeable, though, is the much more aggressive Formula 1–style air dam with mesh intakes and side skirts.
The options list is long for the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK, with several premium packages that bring heated sport seats, Sirius Satellite Radio, rain-sensing wipers, an upgraded Harman Kardon sound system, a navigation system, and a SmartKey system that allows remote operation of the top.
Standard equipment includes head-and-thorax side airbags, knee airbags, stability control, a rollover sensor, fixed roll bars, and anti-lock brakes. The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK has not been crash-tested.