The 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is a roadster of unparalleled luxury.  It is offered in three very different models. At the base end there’s the Mercedes-Benz SLK 250, powered by a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine providing 201 horsepower. What most are probably going to find the best compromise between price and performance in the lineup is the Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 in Tacoma, powered by a 3.5-liter V6 providing 302 horsepower. The top-of-the line, meaning the best and fastest model, is the sizzling V8-powered Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG. The AMG models are specially designed with the best in performance in mind.

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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.

Two beneficial Mercedes traits that have carried over are a rigid body structure and strong, fade-free brakes. Stops from 70 mph are drama-free and use up 167 feet. Brake-pedal feel is excellent; the SLK has traditional hydraulic brakes instead of the brake-by-wire Sensotronic system that is difficult to modulate. A tight structure has always been a Mercedes strength, and the first-generation SLK was blessed with a structure that was largely quiver-free. According to the front office, the new generation increases torsional rigidity by 46 percent and bending stiffness by 19 percent. High-strength steel is used liberally and to good effect: Over even the worst expansion joints, railroad tracks, and potholes, the SLK shoulders the blows with ease.

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.

For more information about the SLK-Class, or to take a look at any Mercedes-Benz, contact Larson Mercedes-Benz.

7 Aug 2013

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