Used 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Review
Edmunds expert review
The compact 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is a standout luxury convertible that offers retractable-hardtop convenience and rewarding performance in a dignified package.
What's new for 2015
It may be the baby brother to the SL-Class, but the 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is anything but an "Oh, so you settled for that" alternative. Indeed, unlike earlier generations of this car, the current SLK looks more like a three-quarter-scale SL than a lesser entry point into Benz's roadster lineup. And under the skin, it offers many of the same luxuries and technology features as its bigger relative.
Settle into the cockpit and you'll find fine quality materials, superb fit and finish and rock-solid construction. The retractable hardtop is impressive in its precise and efficient engineering, and the SLK's all-around performance and unflappable composure at speed is likewise on point. Besides their size, these junior and senior Mercedes models differ the most under the hood. It may not have the SL's standard V8 or available V12 powerhouses, but the SLK's turbocharged four-cylinder and V6 engines provide energetic acceleration and commendable fuel economy. Then again, if sizzling acceleration is on your list of must-haves, the 415-horsepower SLK 55 AMG should suffice with its ability to sprint to 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, essentially matching the SL550.
Similarly priced rivals for the SLK are few but formidable -- and equally desirable. The 2015 BMW Z4 more or less matches the Benz's refinement and hardtop convenience, so in this case it's really just down to which model you prefer. If handling precision is a priority, head over to the Porsche dealership to check out the soft-top 2015 Porsche Boxster. Other options might include the 2015 Audi TT Roadster, for its all-wheel-drive layout, or the thundering 2015 Chevrolet Corvette convertible. But for those who'd like to have the style, refinement and even performance of a Benz SL roadster at a more accessible price point, the Mercedes SLK is the obvious choice.
Trim levels & features
The 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is a two-seat convertible with a retractable hardtop roof, available in SLK250, SLK350 and SLK 55 AMG trim levels.
Standard equipment on the SLK250 includes 17-inch wheels, a choice of either a black painted or glass roof panel, automatic wipers, LED running lights, heated power-folding mirrors (driver-side auto-dimming), cruise control, automatic climate control, eight-way power front seats with four-way lumbar adjustment, driver memory functions, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, Mercedes' mbrace2 emergency communications system, a 5.8-inch display screen, the COMAND electronics interface and an eight-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio and auxiliary and USB audio jacks.
The optional Premium 1 package adds remote roof activation, heated seats, the AirScarf neck-level heating system and an 11-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system with satellite radio and an iPod/media player interface.
Meanwhile, the SLK350 includes the Premium 1 features as standard and adds AMG body styling elements, 18-inch wheels and sun-reflective leather upholstery (the latter two are optional on the SLK250).
The Lighting package adds adaptive bi-xenon headlights with washers, while the Multimedia package contributes a navigation system, a larger COMAND display screen, voice controls, a CD/DVD player, an SD card reader and 10GB of digital music storage. The Driver Assistance package features adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist and PreSafe collision mitigation technology (see Safety section). The Sport package includes 18-inch AMG wheels, AMG body styling elements (standard on SLK350) and interior ambient lighting, while the Dynamic Handling package features adaptive suspension dampers.
Stand-alone options include front and rear parking sensors, a Becker navigation app that integrates with COMAND (for cars without the Multimedia package), the Magic Sky Control roof-dimming system, a wind deflector, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, upgraded leather upholstery and Mercedes-Benz Apps (which outfits COMAND with Google, Yelp, Facebook and other online services for a monthly fee).
The SLK 55 AMG starts with the SLK350's equipment and adds a V8 engine, a sport exhaust, AMG 18-inch wheels, sport-tuned suspension and steering systems, stronger brakes, the torque-vectoring cornering system, unique styling elements, sport seats and the Lighting package. The Multimedia package is available along with the stand-alone options listed above. The AMG Handling package adds a higher top speed, a limited-slip differential, an upgraded suspension, different 18-inch wheels (silver or matte black) and an upgraded steering wheel with simulated suede grip inserts. The AMG Carbon Styling package features gloss black wheels and body trim, black and gray Napa leather upholstery with green piping, carbon-fiber accents and an AMG performance steering wheel.
Performance & mpg
All versions of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class are rear-wheel drive and despite the wide range of engine output the SLK-Class EPA-estimated fuel economy varies only a little. The 2015 SLK250 is powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 201 hp and 229 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, while a seven-speed automatic is optional.
In Edmunds testing, the SLK250 with the automatic went from zero to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, which is on the slow side for a base model luxury roadster. Fuel economy is solid, however, with an EPA-estimated 26 mpg combined for both transmissions, with the automatic getting 23 city/33 highway and the manual 22 city/32 highway.
The SLK350 upgrades to a 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 302 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. The seven-speed automatic transmission is standard, as is auto stop-start for reduced fuel consumption in the city and in traffic. In Edmunds testing, an SLK350 sprinted to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds, a few tenths slower than the rival BMW Z4 sDrive35i. Fuel economy checks in at 24 mpg combined (21 city/29 highway).
The SLK 55 AMG goes wild with a 5.5-liter V8 that pumps out 415 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. The transmission is an AMG-tuned seven-speed automatic. Mercedes estimates a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds, making it the quickest of the compact German luxury roadsters. Thanks to cylinder deactivation, fuel economy is remarkably good at 22 mpg combined (19 city/28 highway).
Every 2015 Mercedes-Benz SLK comes standard with antilock brakes, traction and stability control, active front head restraints, knee airbags and side airbags that cover the abdomen and head. Also standard are roll bars, Attention Assist (a driver drowsiness monitor) and Mercedes' mbrace telematics system, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking and teen driver geo-fencing and speed monitoring.
The Driver Assistance package brings an adaptive cruise control system that includes a frontal collision warning system, impact or rollover preparation (prepares the cabin by adjusting the seats, tightening the seatbelts and rolling up the windows) and automatic braking for frontal collision mitigation. The package also includes blind spot monitoring and lane-keeping assist systems. Front and rear parking sensors are optional on all 2015 SLK convertibles, but a rearview camera is not available.
In Edmunds brake testing, both the SLK250 and SLK350 stopped from 60 mph in about 112 feet. This is short, but its competitors stop a few feet sooner.
The 2015 SLK-Class is reasonably athletic when going around turns, and most drivers will find it quite enjoyable. It also provides the smooth, composed ride that Mercedes drivers expect. It's a deft two-step that most other roadsters can't pull off, though it's very much in keeping with SL family values.
The SLK350 trails the BMW Z4 sDrive35i's acceleration numbers, but in the real world the midrange SLK has plenty of get-up when you give it the spurs, and the exhaust note verges on thrilling. The SLK250's turbocharged four-cylinder engine is less appealing: Acceleration is adequate, but the base Z4 and Boxster are noticeably quicker and return the same fuel economy. Meanwhile, the SLK 55 AMG and its 415 hp is a blast to drive, providing muscle-carlike power in a compact, German roadster.
The SLK interior bears a strong family resemblance to the layouts of both the SL luxury roadster and the more exotic SLS AMG GT. Although the SLK is by far the cheapest car of the three, you'll be hard-pressed to see where Mercedes cut costs. The buttons, switchgear and COMAND technology are virtually identical to what's offered throughout much of the Mercedes lineup, so SLK drivers will never feel like second-class Benz buyers.
Notably for 2015, you can now choose between the panoramic glass roof and a black painted roof as standard equipment. The former offers a great view out, but there's no retractable sunshade, and the only protection you get from a glaring sun is a light tint. For this reason, we strongly recommend either choosing the black roof or springing for the optional Magic Sky Control feature, which darkens the glass automatically at the press of a button. It seems silly to get a retractable-roof roadster if the roof isn't able to block the sun.
Retracting the roof into the trunk -- an entertaining sideshow in itself -- uncovers a cabin that remains pleasantly calm at speed, aided by the standard fixed-glass deflector and optional pivoting wind blocker panels. The AirScarf system blows warm air at neck level from clever seat-mounted vents, while the heated seats further chip in to keep you toasty year-round. In the summer, meanwhile, the available sun-reflective leather guards against scorched skin, and it also slows the leather's aging process.
The main issue inside the SLK is that it's quite snug, even by compact roadster standards. The Z4, for example, gives larger drivers more room. On the bright side, the trunk is surprisingly accommodating whether the roof is up (10.1 cubic feet) or down (a still useful 6.4 cubic feet).
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.