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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
A roadster that makes you want to go hunting for Corvettes
Car and Driver
Ample thrust from any speed
Feels more composed on the road than previous generations
Kelley Blue Book
For a convertible with such a racy appearance, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class, as you might expect, would claim strong performance as be a given. In the previous version, this wasn't the case, but for Mercedes-Benz, 2008 brings an SLK-Class with much stronger performance credentials.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class offers a choice of three engines, indicated by the trim level of the vehicle. Edmunds says that under the hood of the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK280 is "a 3.0-liter V6 that makes 228 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque," while the midline "SLK350 comes with a 3.5-liter V6 good for 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque." If you demand significantly more power from your luxury convertible, Mercedes-Benz offers the "high-performance SLK55 AMG," which Edmunds says features a "5.4-liter V8 that pumps out 355 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque," good for a "0-60-mph time of 5.1 seconds." Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com indicate that the other engines also turn in strong performance, with Kelley Blue Book claiming that the SLK350 moves "from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 5.4 seconds," while ConsumerGuide shows "6.1 seconds 0-60" for the SLK280.
A pair of transmissions is offered on the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class, and which one comes standard depends on the engine. ForbesAutos says "a standard six-speed manual transmission drives the rear wheels on the SLK280" and a "seven-speed automatic with manual-shift capability is optional." On the Mercedes-Benz 2008 SLK350 and SLK55 AMG, the "seven-speed automatic" is the only available transmission. Impressions of the manual are wholly positive, but the seven-speed auto gets mixed reviews. Car and Driver characterizes the manual on the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class as "good," while Kelley Blue Book adds that it is "quick-shifting." When it comes to the seven-speed automatic, Cars.com writes that the "operation can be rude," as it "can get jerky at low speeds in lower gears and delivers a sizable jolt if you hit the gas pedal while slowing down." Other reviewers disagree, however; for example, ConsumerGuide praises the 2008 Mercedes-Benz automatic for "smoothly" changing gears and notes that it "downshifts promptly to provide passing power."
For a car that offers respectable amounts of power, the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class also manages to return decent, but not great, fuel economy. The EPA estimates that the SLK280 will get 18 mpg city and 24 mpg highway with the automatic transmission and 17/25 mpg with the standard manual. The numbers drop to 17/23 mpg for the SLK350 and 14/20 mpg for the SLK55 AMG.
One of the biggest criticisms Mercedes-Benz faced with the previous SLK-Class was that it simply didn't offer the handling qualities that its dimensions and styling suggested. For the Mercedes-Benz 2008 SLK-Class, that criticism all but disappears. Edmunds says the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class offers handling to "please all but the most demanding drivers," and "only when compared directly to this segment's athletic star, the Porsche Boxster, do the SLK's slightly less tactile steering and slower handling responses become apparent." Other reviewers add praise, with Kelley Blue Book finding that "ride has definitely been improved, with less harshness over bumps and improved stability in tight turns." ConsumerGuide sums it up, writing that "any SLK has precise steering, adroit overall balance, and grippy cornering" to go along with "strong brakes" that easily "deliver drama-free stops."
Welcome handling improvements have turned the 2008 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class into a full-blown performance car.