Originally, the SLK was released in 1996 as a compact convertible, which came just shy of 200 BHP and had a laughable 0 to 60 time of almost 7 seconds. This was a small comfortable car that was targeted for girls and retired middle class, who wanted to feel the breeze of ocean air as they cruised down the PCH. It sold very well, but It wasn’t until 2001 when Mercedes Benz and AMG stepped their game up and fitted a 3.2 L V6 that gave that car 354BHP and 0 to 60 time that could put most sports car to shame: whooping 4.5 seconds. That was 12 years ago, and today we are looking at whole new SLK AMG with a massive 5.5 V8, which propels this “light” convertible from 0 to 60 in….. Exactly same 4.5 seconds. So was it worth the wait? I would like to think that it was.
Nonetheless, SLK55 AMG is not a sports car. Even though it could generate some tail happy fun on the twisty mountain roads, it is a tourer, Once you get in, and feel the soft leather seats, thick leather wrapped with alcantara accent steering wheel, and the sound of the Harman Kardon state of the art stereo you realize that you want to spend even more time in this car. That means going somewhere very very far. While taking it for the short spin around central Tokyo I told the accompanying staff member that I could take this all the way to Osaka and back without even a hint of fatigue. I find it fascinating how the folks at Mercedes Benz and AMG have managed to maintain comfort and classiness that comes with Mercedes Benz badge, give it true AMG performance, and fit it all in such a tiny package.
It is also very easy to drive. Anybody with a license can jump in and maneuver it through tiny back streets of Tokyo without worrying about large dimensions or blind spots. Its steering is light, but at the same time very responsive and predictable, though there wasn’t enough feedback from the electronic power steering, but I guess it’s going to be more and more common these days.
So the question is who would be buying it? Unfortunately they aren’t quite flying off the shelves. Even though it is priced at about half of its bigger brother at 10,900,000 Yen, it is only understandable that it is not exactly first choice of vehicle even for the more wealthy folks. As a matter of fact, the simple SLK 200 with manual transmission, priced at 5 million yen is selling a lot more than the SLK AMG. At the same time The rich and shameless still prefer the SL class, which historically has sold very well in Japan. All folks who want ultimate power in a sedan can settle for C63 AMG priced similarly. So, there we have it, another case of a wonderful piece of machinery and automotive craftsmanship that servers little purpose. The car itself is so good that I cannot call it a failure, but I can’t quite use it as example of a success story.
Cost of ownership
With 5.5L engine up front expect to replace rear tires often. Despite all eco features it will still eat lots of gas and tax for high capacity engine is astronomical.
It’s a 2 seater convertible, so rule out use as family car. There is a bit of a trunk space to throw a couple of bags of stuff for your road trip, but it won’t be enough for a Costco run.
It looks and sounds great; it will turn heads and get the thumbs up.
It’s a wonderful toy that will bring smile on your face regardless whether you are making that dash to catch the next green light or gunning it down on the twisties in Hakone. Just the sound of that exhaust note will send chills down your spine.
Who would I recommend it to?
Anybody with substantial income who can afford a good stress relief weekend toy.