- Four, six or eight cylinders
- Tight, refined interior with the top up
- Unified styling inside and out
- Tight for tall drivers
- Tall front end
- Not quite as sharp as Boxster, Z4
The 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLK is the most conservative choice amongst its competitors, but the mini-SL makes for a charming, compelling choice.
The 2014 Mercedes SLK is the least polarizing of the German roadsters on today's market. That's not to say that it isn't exciting or fun–it's also something you can comfortably drive every day.
It has evolved over the years, and it's become a more focused, more graceful sportscar with just enough urgency to feel like a worthy competitor for other, more performance-centric options.
We won't knock our love for the Porsche Boxster, or fail to mention that the BMW Z4 is now one of the best touring roadsters available. But the Mercedes SLK has its own performance qualities, leaving it in an arms race with the other German models.
The 2014 SLK models have it covered in other respects, with all the infotainment features expected in a luxury vehicle, like HD radio, Bluetooth, navigation, and real-time traffic. The SLK can be fitted with a photochromic glass roof that tints itself on bright sunny days--and there's AIRSCARF, which blows a warm, gentle breeze on your neck and beckons you to put the top down on a chilly-but-sunny day.
The 2014 SLK Class is offered in three quite dramatically different personalities. At the base end there's the SLK 250 and its 201-horsepower, 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine; we still haven't driven variants with this engine, but we've found it plenty perky in the C Class--and it's the only way you can get an SLK with a (six-speed) manual gearbox. What most are probably going to find the best compromise between price and performance in the lineup is the SLK 350 and its 302-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. But those who always need to have the best and fastest will head straight to the sizzling V-8-powered SLK 55 AMG.
Over extensive drive time in the SLK 350, we've found it easy to get used to this model's rhythm and drivability. With any of these automatic models, there's a paddle-shifted seven-speed automatic pushing force to the rear wheels in a mostly smooth way. Massive, biting brakes are in store, either way, and new torque-vectoring control works with the SLK's stability control to tighten cornering, giving this latest edition a lot of tech weaponry to tackle corners.
The top is, quite simply, what the coupe-convertible SLK is all about. You lose some trunk space compared to soft-top rivals, but what you get instead is a tight, refined interior that's long-distance quiet and comfortable, and essentially a coupe with the top up. Unfortunately, the interior's still snug for tall drivers and for luggage. Outward visibility can also be difficult with the top up, and there's no rearview camera system on offer.