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Since its 1998 U.S. debut, the Mercedes-Benz SLK had featured styling that was almost cute. That all changed with a 2012 redesign, however, that gave the compact roadster an aggressive design that mirrored its larger SL sibling. Aside from rolling the Premium 1 package into the standard features list, Mercedes-Benz brings the SLK into 2013 without any changes.
The SLK250 serves as the lineup's base model, and has a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine under its hood that pumps out 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque. This engine mates to a six-speed manual transmission as standard, but a seven-speed automatic transmission is available. The SLK250 hits 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds, while still netting an impressive 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.
Like SL-Class convertibles, the SLK features a standard retractable hardtop that takes fewer than 20 seconds to operate. Inside the beautiful cabin, a driver and passenger enjoy eight-way power seats and an eight-speaker audio system.
Though the SLK250 is a gorgeous car, and fast enough to please most drivers, its $42,000 price places it in the direct path of strong challengers from Porsche, BMW and Audi. And that's when trading the engineering cost of the hardtop for a soft top and a lower price might have made it an irresistible bargain.
The SLK250 comes in a single trim level with standard equipment like: a sport-tuned suspension system; electronic stability control; staggered 17-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels; LED daytime running lights; a retractable hardtop; Brake Assist with adaptive braking technology; rain-sensing windshield wipers; aluminum interior trim; a three-spoke multifunction steering wheel; brushed-aluminum pedals; eight-way airbag protection; MB-Tex vinyl seating; eight-way power seats; heated and power side-view mirrors; power windows and door locks; a universal garage door opener; cruise control; an eight-speaker audio system with AM/FM/CD/MP3 capabilities, Bluetooth audio streaming, a 5.8-inch LCD screen and auxiliary input; and a four-way power-tilting steering column.
True sports car handling, powerful six-cylinder and faster to 60 mph, but standard soft top and high price
Standard hardtop, powerful four-cylinder and quicker to 60 mph, but aging body style and higher price
10 more horsepower, standard all-wheel drive and faster to 60 mph, but lacks pedigree and not nearly as refined
Perfect roadster-sports car mix, powerful V6 engine and faster to 60 mph, not a luxury car, raucous engine