Full 2007 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Review
What's New for 2007
There are no significant changes to the 2007 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class roadster.
Within Mercedes-Benz's family of vehicles, prestigious coupes, $140,000 sedans and large SUVs have an almost celebrity-like status. In a dealer's showroom, they overshadow Mercedes' diminutive convertible, the SLK. But that doesn't mean the roadster doesn't have much to offer. In fact, we believe there's no better car currently in M-B's lineup for delivering affordable driving enjoyment.
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is a two-seat hardtop convertible, currently representative of the car's second generation. When the original SLK debuted in the late '90s, it was the first vehicle to truly popularize the use of a convertible top made out of steel panels rather than the more traditional soft fabric. Though bulkier and more complex, a convertible hardtop design, with its coupe-like profile and superior wind and weather protection, provides significant advantages in the top-up position. In coupe form, the rear-drive SLK's exterior styling mimics Mercedes' SLR McLaren exotic sports car. The two cars' pointed noses are meant to reference the look of modern Formula One race cars. Underneath this sporting shell are ingredients for a proper sporting roadster, including a stiff body structure, an available sport-tuned suspension and strong brakes. For power, Mercedes offers a choice of two V6s as well as a beefy V8 from AMG, Mercedes' in-house performance tuning division.
These SLK models compete against vehicles like the BMW Z4, Nissan 350Z and Porsche Boxster. Thanks to its classy cabin, distinctive looks and solid performance credentials, the SLK more than holds its own in this segment. Though the SLK is inexpensive by Mercedes standards, some potential buyers will no doubt be put off by the vehicle's higher-than-typical price. Others might prefer the Z4 and Boxster's sharper handling dynamics. But for a convertible that sacrifices little in performance and excels at luxury and prestige, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz SLK is a top choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2007 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is a two-seat roadster with a power-retractable hardtop. Three variants are offered: SLK280, SLK350 and SLK55 AMG. Standard equipment on the SLK280 includes 16-inch alloy wheels, leather upholstery, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control and a nine-speaker CD audio system. In addition to a larger V6 engine, the SLK350 adds 17-inch wheels and larger brakes. The V8-powered SLK55 AMG is specialized for performance and comes with 18-inch wheels, high-performance tires, even larger brakes and a sport-tuned suspension. It also comes with power and heated seats with driver-side memory, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, napa leather upholstery and unique interior and exterior trim details.
Many of the AMG model's extra features are optional on the SLK280 and SLK380. Other SLK options include special "designo" color-themed packages based on exterior paint color and interior trim; bi-xenon headlamps; a navigation system; a 380-watt surround-sound audio system; a glovebox-mounted CD changer; satellite radio and an Airscarf system that directs heat through vents in the head restraints.
Powertrains and Performance
The SLK280 features a 3.0-liter V6 that produces 228 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. The SLK350 offers a 3.5-liter V6 good for 268 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Either engine can be matched with a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic transmission, the latter with steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles. The Mercedes SLK55 AMG comes with a 5.4-liter V8 engine stuffed under the hood. It develops 355 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. A seven-speed automatic is the only transmission offered, but it hardly detracts from performance; expect a 0-60-mph time of just 5.1 seconds. The more common SLK350 is also respectably quick, with an acceleration time of 6.3 seconds.
Knee airbags and seat-mounted side airbags that provide head and chest protection are standard equipment. Antilock disc brakes with brake assist, stability control, traction control and the TeleAid emergency call system are also standard.
Interior Design and Special Features
Top up, the SLK provides the security of a traditional coupe. The only distracting items are blind spots caused by the roof pillars. Lowering the fully automatic roof requires 22 seconds. When folded, it takes up space in the trunk, but there are still 6.5 cubic feet of space available for luggage. Inside the cabin, Mercedes has installed attractive, soft-touch material for the top of the dash, glovebox and doors, while plastics of similar quality fill in the rest. The climate-control layout varies depending on whether you add a navigation system, but both arrangements use easy-to-decipher dials.
The soft and supportive seats remain comfortable even after several hours of driving. Keep the windows up while the top is down and there's minimal wind buffeting. If that's not enough, consider the Airscarf system that channels warm air to your neck and shoulders via dedicated registers in the headrests. It actually works quite well, and when it's combined with traditional seat heaters, the 2007 Mercedes-Benz SLK becomes one of the most useful all-weather convertibles on the market.
Mercedes-Benz is known for a lot of things, but building true drivers' cars isn't one of them. Case in point would be the old SLK, which was more of a boulevard cutie than a canyon-carver. The 2007 SLK, however, is an exception. It admirably delivers solid performance in acceleration, braking and handling. Obviously, the AMG model has the most performance potential, and indeed it posts impressive numbers in instrumented testing. Even the 280 and 350 models are fun to drive. 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.