The Bottom Line
The SLK55 AMG is the hot-rod version of Mercedes' two-seat retractable-hardtop SLK roadster, which received a thorough going-over -- including updated styling and an improved interior -- for 2009. The SLK55 AMG gets a 355 horsepower 5.4 liter V8 (link goes to photo), 7-speed automatic, upgraded suspension, steering and brakes, and a premium leather-lined interior. The SLK55 AMG looks good and goes fast, but is it worth buying? Read on.
- Small and cute
- Looks good with the top up or down
- Thrilling when the taps are wide open
- Great handling and a comfortable ride
- Unbelievably expensive
- Lacks the raw attitude of 63-series AMG models
- No one-button top-up feature (windows have to be raised separately)
- Hot-rod version of Mercedes' SLK roadster
- Price range (including gas-guzzler tax and options): $66,175 - $79,005
- Price as tested: $72,145
- EPA fuel economy estimates: 14 MPG city/22 MPG highway/17 MPG combined
Guide Review - 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG
For the most part, I like the SLK55 AMG. I like the way it looks, I like the way it goes down the road, and I really like the way it develops power. The SLK55 reminds me of a creature from one of those battle-card-themed cartoons my kids watch: It's cute, cuddly and friendly, at least until you floor the accelerator. That's when its eyes bug out, its hairs turn into poison-tipped spikes, and its contented purr becomes an ear-splitting yowl. It's almost a shame the SLK55 is so sedate when you're not giving it the juice.
But there's one big thing I don't like about the SLK55 AMG, and that's the price. The SLK55 AMG starts at over $66k with destination and gas guzzler tax. Options on my tester included navigation (which should be standard on a car this expensive), AIRSCARF (which blows warm air on your neck), and a fancier climate control system. Bottom line: $72,145. Someone get me a chair! For that kind of money, you could buy three Mazda Miatas. You could also get a BMW M3 retractable-hardtop convertible, which comes with 4 years of free maintenance and a higher fun factor. Me, I'd probably go for a soft-top BMW 135i convertible. It's not as fast or as small, but it's still plenty thrilling to drive, and even with all the options it's over $12,000 cheaper than a stripped-down SLK55.
There have been rumors that AMG is going to fit their 6.2 liter V8 into the SLK and create an SLK63 AMG, though as far as I know Mercedes hasn't confirmed this. Even if it wasn't any faster -- though I'm sure it would be -- the 6.2's wrong-side-of-the-tracks demeanor would give the SLK the one thing it lacks: full-time attitude (as opposed to the part-time 'tude of the SLK55 AMG). Now there's a car that would be worth spending way the hell too much money on. But the SLK63 doesn't yet exist; the SLK55 does -- and my advice would be to take a pass. -- Aaron Gold