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2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK250 Track Test

Is a Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Enough?

Edmunds tests hundreds of vehicles a year. Cars, trucks, SUVs, we run them all, and the numbers always tell a story. With that in mind we present "Edmunds Track Tested," a quick rundown of all the data we collect at the track, along with comments direct from the test drivers. Enjoy.

Unfortunately, the Mercedes-Benz SLK has always had a reputation as a bit of a secretary's car. This reputation didn't change when Mercedes added a silly F1-inspired nose in the late 2000s and it hasn't changed with this newest redesign that removed the silly nose while adding length, width and a little extra weight on V6 models.

This car, however, isn't the V6. It's the four-cylinder 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK250 roadster. It's equipped with a 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct-injected motor good for 201 horsepower. Sure, that's down 101 hp from the SLK350, but according to Dr. Rudiger Rütz, senior manager of driving dynamics for MB, "The optimal SLK for driving is the SLK250 with the 18-inch wheel/tire package." Well, then, time to find out if he's right.

Vehicle: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK250
Odometer: 1,527
Date: 12/11/2012
Driver: Chris Walton
Price: $42,900 (base price)

Drive Type: Front engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: Seven-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged, direct-injected inline-4
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 1,796
Redline (rpm): 6,300
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 201 @ 5,500
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 229 @ 2,000-4,300
Brake Type (front): 12.7-inch ventilated discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Brake Type (rear): 11.8-inch solid discs with single-piston sliding calipers
Suspension Type (front): Independent, coil spring, single-tube shock absorber
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink, coil spring, single-tube shock absorber
Tire Size (front): 225/40R18 (92Y)
Tire Size (rear): 245/35R18 (92Y)
Tire Brand: Bridgestone
Tire Model: Potenza S001
Tire Type: Asymmetrical summer
As Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,325

Test Results:

0-30 (sec): 2.4 (2.9 w/ TC on)
0-45 (sec): 4.2 (4.8 w/ TC on)
0-60 (sec): 6.8 (7.4 w/ TC on)
0-60 with 1-ft rollout (sec): 6.5 (7.1 w/ TC on)
0-75 (sec): 9.9 (10.5 w/ TC on)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 14.9 @ 92.3 (15.4 @ 92.0 w/ TC on)

30-0 (ft): 28
60-0 (ft): 112

Slalom (mph): 67.7 (64.3 w/ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral Acceleration (g): 0.87 (0.87 w/ESC on)
Db @ Idle: 45.5
Db @ Full Throttle: 73.5
Db @ 70 mph Cruise: 67.5
Db @ 70 mph Cruise w/ Top Down: 73.8

RPM @ 70: 2,150

Acceleration: There are noticeable differences in acceleration among the E-Drive and S-Drive settings, especially with generous pedal overlap. The shift schedule itself seems to be the same at wide-open throttle, but perhaps a little smoother in E-Drive. There's a little bit of turbo lag, but only way down low around 2,000 rpm, then the car really wakes up and gets it done. Wheelspin hurts time. This is plenty of engine for this car with commendable acceleration, even if it's not one of the quickest in its class. In the real world, the E-drive setting will likely return better fuel economy, but it absolutely snubs throttle response, kick-down and generally makes the car feel lethargic. S-Drive is how this car likes to be driven (or with the shift paddles.)

Braking: Firm pedal, little dive and near zero fade — stops grew shorter from first nearly to the last. Pretty abrupt jump-in for "normal" driving, but linear progression with added pedal pressure.


Slalom: Good steering response, light steering effort and very good precision, with a useful amount of information coming through the wheel. Not a single creak or groan from the convertible top under the stress of rapid transitions. While ESC is not truly off, it does provide a very large envelope in which to play — plenty of slide before it dabs the brake. With ESC on, it was peculiar — as if it was dragging a brake instead of dabbing quickly.

Skid pad: Steering weight is still appropriate here, but there's less info than expected. With ESC (mostly) off, the SLK responds very well to throttle input, shifting weight and essentially steering from the rear with a controllable slip angle all the way around. With ESC on, it behaved entirely differently: mild understeer, throttle closure and again, dragging a brake, but it worked quite well and invisibly.

  2013 Mercedes SLK250 2013 Mercedes SLK350
Curb weight as tested: 3,325 3,405
0-30 (sec.): 2.4 2.2
0-45 (sec.): 4.2 3.7
0-60 (sec.): 6.8 5.6
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec.): 6.5 5.4
0-75 (sec.): 9.9 8.1
1/4-mile (sec @ mph): 14.9 @ 92.3 13.8 @ 101.3
30-0 (ft): 28 28
60-0 (ft): 112 113
Skid Pad Lateral Accel (g): 0.87 0.87
Slalom: 67.7 66.2

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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