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Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG

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Young
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#1

Posted 12 June 2005 - 02:46 PM

We know that AMG, the high-performance wing at Mercedes-Benz, has a pretty good handle on engine tweaking�just look at its spring catalog. AMG offers up 14 models, each packing no fewer than eight cylinders and outputs ranging from 355 horsepower to a mind-boggling 604 horsepower and 738 pound-feet of torque.

And although we've rarely knocked an AMG vehicle for lack of straight-line juice, neither have we been known to heap praise on the entire package, as it's been our experience that these souped-up cars are sometimes overweight and underperforming on the skidpad and during back-road boogies. Now, lest you think we're making excuses for this new SLK55, AMG's least-powerful car, let us introduce a previously unused AMG performance trick: Mercedes' seven-speed automatic. The German automaker introduced this transmission for 2004, but until now the most powerful engine it was bolted to was the company's 302-hp, 5.0-liter V-8, so all AMG models had to rely on the five-speed automatic. So what are a couple more gear ratios going to do? Let us explain.

The previous-generation car, the SLK32 AMG, had a supercharged and intercooled 3.2-liter V-6 putting down 349 horsepower and 322 pound-feet of torque. The last one we tested ["Topless Toys," C/D, August 2001] weighed 3265 pounds, scampered to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and crossed the quarter-mile in 13.0 seconds at 110 mph. Now, the SLK55's 24-valve, 5.4-liter naturally aspirated

V-8 cranks out just six more horsepower�but an additional 54 pound-feet of torque. Still, the new car's weight is up 190 pounds to 3455, so the power-to-weight ratio has worsened slightly.

Despite this fact, the SLK55 outaccelerates its predecessor, ripping to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and clearing the quarter in the 12s�precisely, 12.7 seconds at 111 mph�largely because of improved gearing, not just power. Still not convinced? How about this: The 400-hp Corvette in a recent comparo ["It's-All-About-Me Roadsters," C/D, March 2005] outguns this SLK55 by 45 horsepower and 24 pound-feet of torque, and weighs 155 fewer pounds. Yet the Vette ties the SLK at 4.3 seconds to 60 mph and loses the quarter-mile race by a 10th, 12.8 versus 12.7 seconds. And that was a six-speed manual Corvette, not the wimpy four-speed automatic. Or consider this: The SLK55 matches its big brother E55 from 0 to 60 mph�despite the E55's 469 supercharged horsepower propelling fewer pounds per pony�and is just 0.2 second slower through the quarter-mile.

Besides the overachieving numbers, acceleration runs are just so darn pleasing in the SLK55. Modulate the throttle for launch to produce an appropriate amount of wheelspin, and then hammer it�the rest is taken care of for you. With the closely spaced cogs, the engine is always kept in a sweet spot between 5000 rpm and the 6700-rpm redline; thus, acceleration is never peaky, just strong and constant, with upshifts executed nearly manual-tranny quick. Mercedes says AMG's modifications to the standard seven-speed netted 35-percent-faster shifts, and the tranny must swap ratios quickly since it has to shift twice before reaching 60 mph in the SLK55. Delayed reactions would spoil any increased performance from the enhanced gearing.

As good as the transmission is at acceleration runs, it doesn't falter around town, either. Shifts are smooth and unobtrusive, and despite having seven ratios available, it resists overshifting. Yet the gearbox is always ready to blast off, providing up to four gear kickdowns at a time. Stand on the throttle when cruising along at 70 mph in seventh gear, for example, and the transmission seamlessly downshifts to fourth gear and shoots the SLK forward. Our only complaint with the transmission is that while decelerating it downshifts aggressively through the gears, making it impossible to stop smoothly. Of course, you can alleviate this problem by using the manual mode and choosing not to downshift early.

Any reservations some of us had with the SLK's styling being too feminine in SLK350 guise are thoroughly dispelled in the SLK55. Head on, the air dam is lower and, with its sharper edges, presents the SLK with a more aggressive, bolder image. Just around the sides, in front of each wheel, are two vertical slots that promote airflow through the radiator and oil cooler. Moving along, we happily see the extended side skirts and the 18-inch, 16-spoke AMG wheels that nicely fill the wells (up one inch and six spokes from those on the SLK350). Around back reside huge quad tailpipes and a small lip spoiler on the trunk. We were hesitant about the test car's color at first�the blue just had too much baby in it. But seeing it in different light, and armed with the window sticker that clearly indicated Diamond Silver, we changed our minds.

The SLK looks small, and measuring 160.9 inches long, 70.6 inches wide, and 50.0 inches tall, it is smaller in every dimension than a Porsche Boxster. But slide down and in, and you'll be surprised at the space. Have a seat in the extremely supportive bucket, and adjust it to fit. Most likely, you'll find a pleasant position, since even our tallest, six-foot-five test dummy found comfort in the SLK, despite no adjustments for bolster or lumbar. Straight ahead are two large, easy-to-read gauges that relay speed and rpm, and they light up at night with a brilliant, Lexus-esque white glow. In between the gauges are the typical Benz digital readouts for such things as the odometer, fuel economy, and stereo, but the display seems of a higher quality than in other models. All around the cockpit are reasonable touches of leather and silver-colored plastic. Even the gray plastic on the dash and center console is softer to the touch than most. The only item seemingly misplaced among these upscale furnishings is the manual climate control, but for $750, it can be automated.

Ignite the engine, and it responds with a lovely V-8 rumble. Dip into the throttle for a taste of the quad tailpipes' roar. But be careful, especially when the tires are cold, because just a slight throttle nudge may elicit wheelspin. The throttle isn't touchy; it just takes time to adjust to the amount of forward thrust you're looking for. Either way, the traction and stability controls will set you straight if they perceive an inordinate amount of tomfoolery.

We appreciated the SLK350's much-improved chassis. The AMG folks stiffened things up in the suspension department, while dropping the SLK 1.1 inches. The tires do stay firmly pinned to the ground, but the already taut ride has suffered some from that of the SLK350�it's definitely in sports-car territory. We still don't rate the SLK55's ride as punishing and wouldn't think twice about a two-person road trip. Body motions are kept in tighter control. Turn in for a corner, and appreciate the lack of body roll. However, AMG has annoyingly heavied-up the steering, even though the same hardware maintains the SLK350's excellent feel. Keep pushing the 225/40R-18 front and 245/35R-18 rear Pirelli P Zero Rosso MO tires, and they'll hold on until 0.91 g, an improvement over the SLK350's 0.89 g.

AMG upsized the brakes by 0.4 inch in front and 1.6 inches in back, bringing the discs to 13.4 and 13.0 inches, respectively. Assisting in stopping power are two additional pistons in each caliper, making the count six in each front binder and four in the rears. But the best part is that there's no electrohydraulic wizardry dishing out the braking force. In practice, the brakes produced absolutely fade-free stops from 70 mph in an impressive 156 feet�better than any other vehicle we've tested in the current AMG lineup and even outdoing the $455,750 SLR McLaren. They're also 14 feet better than the Corvette, 19 better than the SLK350, and just three feet worse than the Porsche Boxster S.

The base price of the SLK55�$62,520 including the guzzler tax�is $15,550 higher than a standard SLK350's, but that increment strikes us as reasonable for the major performance upgrades. It is also the least expensive car in the AMG lineup, except for the C55, and we think the SLK is the best balanced of the lot. Our tester's sticker was $63,550 owing to two options: metallic paint ($680) and Airscarf ($350), which blows warm air on the occupants' necks, nice for top-down motoring in cold weather.

Had it been in our March roadster comparo, the SLK55 would have been the most expensive entry but also the quickest through the quarter-mile. Its aggressive looks and upsized brakes would have worked in its favor, too. Moreover, most passersby were awed by the AMG roadster, wondering, "How much does that cost, $150,000?" Hmm, a Corvette never produced a similar effect.

MERCEDES-BENZ SLK55 AMG
Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 2-passenger, 2-door roadster

Price as tested: $63,550

Price and option breakdown: base Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG (includes $1300 gas-guzzler tax and $720 freight), $62,520; metallic paint, $680; Airscarf neck heaters, $350

Major standard accessories: power windows, seats, and locks; remote locking; A/C; cruise control; tilting and telescoping steering wheel; rear defroster

Sound system: Mercedes-Benz AM-FM radio/CD player, 10 speakers

ENGINE
Type: V-8, aluminum block and heads
Bore x stroke: 3.82 x 3.62 in, 97.0 x 92.0mm
Displacement: 332 cu in, 5439cc
Compression ratio: 11.0:1
Fuel-delivery system: port injection
Valve gear: chain-driven single overhead cams,
3 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters
Power (SAE net): 355 bhp @ 5750 rpm
Torque (SAE net): 376 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
Redline: 6700 rpm

DRIVETRAIN
Transmission: 7-speed automatic with manumatic shifting
Final-drive ratio: 3.06:1
Gear Ratio Mph/1000 rpm Max test speed
I, 4.38, 5.3, 36 mph (6700 rpm)
II, 2.86, 8.2, 55 mph (6700 rpm)
III, 1.92, 12.2, 81 mph (6700 rpm)
IV, 1.37, 17.0, 114 mph (6700 rpm)
V, 1.00, 23.3, 156 mph (6700 rpm)
VI, 0.82, 28.5, 156 mph (5500 rpm)
VII, 0.73, 32.0, 156 mph (4900 rpm)

DIMENSIONS
Wheelbase: 95.7 in
Track, front/rear: 60.0/61.0 in
Length/width/height: 160.9/70.6/50.0 in
Ground clearance: 3.9 in
Drag area, Cd (0.35) x frontal area (21.0 sq ft): 7.4 sq ft
Curb weight: 3455 lb
Weight distribution, F/R: 52.8/47.2%
Curb weight per horsepower: 9.7 lb
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gal

CHASSIS/BODY
Type: unit construction with
1 rubber-isolated subframe
Body material: welded steel stampings

INTERIOR
SAE volume, front seat: 49 cu ft
luggage, top up/down: 10/7 cu ft
Front-seat adjustments: fore-and-aft, seatback angle, front height, rear height
Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts, driver and passenger front and side airbags

SUSPENSION
Front: ind, strut located by 1 diagonal link and 1 lateral link, coil springs, anti-roll bar
Rear: ind; 1 trailing link, 3 lateral links, and 1 toe-control link per side; coil springs; anti-roll bar

STEERING
Type: rack-and-pinion with variable hydraulic power assist
Steering ratio: 14.5:1
Turns lock-to-lock: 2.9
Turning circle curb-to-curb: 34.4 ft

BRAKES
Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist, anti-lock control, and electronic panic assist
Front: 13.4 x 1.2-in vented, cross-drilled disc Rear: 13.0 x 0.9-in vented, cross-drilled disc

WHEELS AND TIRES
Wheel size: F: 7.5 x 18 in, R: 8.5 x 18 in
Wheel type: cast aluminum
Tires: Pirelli P Zero Rosso MO; F: 225/40ZR-18 92Y,
R: 245/35ZR-18 92Y
Test inflation pressures, F/R: 36/39 psi
Spare: compact inflatable

C/D TEST RESULTS
ACCELERATION Seconds
Zero to 30 mph: 1.6
40 mph: 2.3
50 mph: 3.2
60 mph: 4.3
70 mph: 5.4
80 mph: 7.0
90 mph: 8.5
100 mph: 10.3
110 mph: 12.6
120 mph: 15.3
130 mph: 18.4
140 mph: 22.2
150 mph: 28.0
Street start, 5-60 mph: 4.6
Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 2.3
50-70 mph: 2.9
Standing 1/4-mile: 12.7 sec @ 111 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 156 mph

BRAKING
70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 156 ft

HANDLING
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.91 g
Understeer: minimal moderate excessive

FUEL ECONOMY
EPA city driving: 16 mpg
EPA highway driving: 22 mpg
C/D-observed: 17 mpg

INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
Idle: 47 dBA
Full-throttle acceleration: 83 dBA
70-mph cruising: 72 dBA

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Chunky Lee Chong
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#2

Posted 13 June 2005 - 04:14 PM

It goes without saying that the current 55's do kick ass, and they sure do offer a deep throaty sound (or so I've heard from the F1 Safety Cars even with the sound of the F1 cars over it).

*gta star*
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#3

Posted 13 June 2005 - 05:46 PM

^Yes, according to Jeremy Clarkson they do aswell. smile.gif

Mind you, all AMG's do (sound good).

Over The Wall
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#4

Posted 13 June 2005 - 06:31 PM

The MB dealership in my town (Naples,FL) has sold more SLR's than any other dealership in the country (12 or 13, I think). I was there the other day looking at some of the cars that they have in and noticed two CL 65's OUTSIDE of the showroom. Sticker price was in the 180's and had that 604 hp engine. Pretty ridiculous. I didn't see an SLK AMG, though. I like the face lift they gave it though. Much improved over the old one.

Chunky Lee Chong
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#5

Posted 13 June 2005 - 06:37 PM

QUOTE (Over The Wall @ Jun 13 2005, 20:31)
The MB dealership in my town (Naples,FL) has sold more SLR's than any other dealership in the country (12 or 13, I think). I was there the other day looking at some of the cars that they have in and noticed two CL 65's OUTSIDE of the showroom. Sticker price was in the 180's and had that 604 hp engine. Pretty ridiculous. I didn't see an SLK AMG, though. I like the face lift they gave it though. Much improved over the old one.

Considering the CL65 has a V12 6.5L Biturbo engine, I wouldn't call those number ridiculous. Not as ridiculous as the pricetag of the SLR which has an extra 40 ponies.

Over The Wall
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#6

Posted 13 June 2005 - 06:44 PM

The engine is ridiculous, and isn't needed in the S class, as they have started to produce. A 600 horsepower family sedan? Practical. I can't imagine the market they are trying to pitch that car to.

Chunky Lee Chong
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#7

Posted 13 June 2005 - 09:25 PM

QUOTE (Over The Wall @ Jun 13 2005, 20:44)
The engine is ridiculous, and isn't needed in the S class, as they have started to produce. A 600 horsepower family sedan? Practical. I can't imagine the market they are trying to pitch that car to.

Obviously it's for rich people that crave as much power as they can shove into an S-Class, CL-Class or SL-Class. While we're on the subject, the 600 models aren't really neccessary, either. Neither are the 55 models. Why don't we just stick the least powerful engine in the car and leave it at that? Why? Because people with more money want more power, that's why. Mercedes-Benz isn't the type of company to create cars that people don't want, because there is a market for them. Perhaps not in America, but in Europe (places like Monaco and Andorra as two very good examples) these cars are sold. My friend has shown me photos of various CL65's, SL65's and a couple S65's on his recent trip to Monaco to watch the Formula 1 Grand Prix.

And apparently you don't know about the power solutions at Kleeman. They add 127 Hp and 300 Nm by using an ECU to the cars already gross output and increase top speed (by adjusting the limiter) to 300kmh (186mph).

If I had the money, I WOULD buy it.

Over The Wall
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#8

Posted 14 June 2005 - 12:11 AM

Well my family did own an S 55, the model year right before the supercharger. It was incredible, but even at 349 hp(or 379, can't remember), I had it on the borderline of practicality. It was a dream to drive and had 5.5 0-60 mph speed while having the ability to lug around enough groceries to feed a half an army. Of course, my mom didn't push the car at all, and was a waste for her to have. I had my permit at the time and took advantage whenever I had the opportunity, but she was clueless as to the power she had availible.

That is only one personal experience, but I'm sure my mom is one of the more common drivers of the car. Husbands that have made more than enough money, and wives getting greedy and wanting that top model to pick up their kids from soccer practice.

I guess that it doesn't matter how the car is used by the owner, as long as it sells. Practicality doesn't come into play if it isn't used to its capabilities, anyway.

Not that it is relevant, but the G-wagon didn't sell very well, forcing them to ditch the whole look of it.

Chunky Lee Chong
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#9

Posted 14 June 2005 - 08:27 AM

QUOTE (Over The Wall @ Jun 14 2005, 02:11)
Not that it is relevant, but the G-wagon didn't sell very well, forcing them to ditch the whole look of it.

That sentence made my heart stop, so what did I do? I looked at mbusa.com, and thankfully they still have the G-Wagon up so that's an indication that they're not going to stop selling it, so it's okay. user posted image

Besides, the G-Wagon has had the same look and they've been selling it for the past 20 years at basically the same rate. Why stop now?

Kristian D'Agustino
  • Kristian D'Agustino

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#10

Posted 16 June 2005 - 12:38 AM Edited by Kristian D'Agustino, 16 June 2005 - 12:41 AM.

Hmmm... The safety car for the skank Piccadilly/Regent Street F1 was a SLK 55.
And what a gorgeous sound it was. So much bass.

My dad wanted to buy an SL 55 around 3 years ago, but chickened out.
If only he was more of a man.

SIP YEK NOD
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#11

Posted 16 June 2005 - 03:53 AM

Stock sucks! tounge.gif

SLR engine, 650hp and a top speed of around 350kph biggrin.gif

Over The Wall
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#12

Posted 16 June 2005 - 04:17 AM

QUOTE (Chunky Lee Chong @ Jun 14 2005, 04:27)
QUOTE (Over The Wall @ Jun 14 2005, 02:11)
Not that it is relevant, but the G-wagon didn't sell very well, forcing them to ditch the whole look of it.

That sentence made my heart stop, so what did I do? I looked at mbusa.com, and thankfully they still have the G-Wagon up so that's an indication that they're not going to stop selling it, so it's okay. user posted image

Besides, the G-Wagon has had the same look and they've been selling it for the past 20 years at basically the same rate. Why stop now?

user posted image

That's for 2006. Looks more like the Cadillac SRX than a G-Wagon.


Chunky Lee Chong
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#13

Posted 16 June 2005 - 12:37 PM

QUOTE (Over The Wall @ Jun 16 2005, 06:17)
QUOTE (Chunky Lee Chong @ Jun 14 2005, 04:27)
QUOTE (Over The Wall @ Jun 14 2005, 02:11)
Not that it is relevant, but the G-wagon didn't sell very well, forcing them to ditch the whole look of it.

That sentence made my heart stop, so what did I do? I looked at mbusa.com, and thankfully they still have the G-Wagon up so that's an indication that they're not going to stop selling it, so it's okay. user posted image

Besides, the G-Wagon has had the same look and they've been selling it for the past 20 years at basically the same rate. Why stop now?

user posted image

That's for 2006. Looks more like the Cadillac SRX than a G-Wagon.


Looks more like the new ML-Class to me. They better not f*cking change it.

@ SIP: Then why does it still say V8 Kompressor on the side? And why are there no engine bay shots? dontgetit.gif

Over The Wall
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#14

Posted 16 June 2005 - 02:05 PM

I like the G as is too. Its a shame that they will probably revamp it soon.

How does an SLR engine fit in an SLK?

Martini Racing
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#15

Posted 05 July 2005 - 02:24 PM

I'm just happy it's not as girly anymore. (No offence to any girls reading this)




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