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With the debut of the SLK-Class in 1997 came the debut of the SLK AMG model, the SLK32 AMG. The SLK32 included a 354-horsepower, 3.2-liter engine. A decade later, Mercedes debuted the much more powerful SLK55 AMG and that model continues through the 2013 model year.
The 2013 SLK55 AMG is essentially a carryover from the 2012 model year, despite some shuffling of standard features on the lower SLK-Class models. The 2013 SLK55 AMG comes standard with an outrageous 5.5-liter V-8 engine that punishes concrete and asphalt with 415 horsepower and 398 foot-pounds of torque. With its paddle-shifted SPEEDSHIFT seven-speed transmission by AMG, this roadster hits 60 mph in only 4.5 seconds while turning in acceptable fuel economy ratings of 19 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. Going fast is only half of the equation, as the SLK55 AMG also features Mercedes’ Direct-Steer system which adjusts the steering to fit your needs at any given time, plus the ALK55 includes the AMG sport suspension system to keep it glued to the road in the twist.
On top of the array of standard features that Mercedes bestowed upon the SLK55 AMG, there are also several upgrade packages available. The first package is the Multimedia package, which includes 80 GB navigation system, enhanced voice control, 7-inch LCD screen, Gracenote media database, in-dash DVD player, 10 GB of music storage SD card reader, and SiriusXM traffic and weather service. The Lighting package includes bi-xenon lights for added nighttime vision, adaptive high-beam assist to avoid blinding oncoming traffic and a headlight lens washing system. Lastly, there is the AMG handling package, which adds an AMG performance steering wheel for a sportier grip, raised to-speed limiter to 174 mph, an AMG limited-slip differential for better traction, AMG performance suspension and 18-inch AMG multi-spoke wheels.
The performance roadster market has really dissipated in the past few decades, leaving only a handful of direct competitors for the 2013 SLK55 AMG. Leading the charge toward the SLK55 AMG is the BMW Z4 sDrive35is, which has a 335-horsepower, 3.0-liter turbocharged engine, a seven-speed automated manual transmission and a 4.8-second sprint to 60 mph. Next up is the 2013 Porsche Boxster S, which comes standard with a 3.4-liter six-cylinder engine that cranks out 315 horsepower, a six-speed manual transmission and a 4.9-second run to 60 mph. Finally, you have the 2013 Audi TTS Convertible, which features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 265 horsepower, a 5.3-second run to 60 mph and a six-speed dual-clutch transmission linked to Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive system.
The SLK55 AMG is only available in a single trim level, but what a spectacular trim it is, as it combines the sportiness of a roadster, the power expected of an AMG and the luxury of a Benz. On the outside, Mercedes fitted the SLK55 AMG with an AMG body kit, rear spoiler, 18-inch AMG 5-spoke wheels, which give the hardtop roadster an aggressive look. LED daytime running lights keep other drivers alerted of your presence in the day and four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, brake assist and adaptive braking all bring the SLK55 SMG to a halt quickly. Inside the cabin, Mercedes added in AMG leather upholstery with contrasting stitching along with heated and eight-way power adjustable seats to keep its occupants comfortable. A Harman/Kardon LOGIC7 surround-sound audio system with SiriusXM, MP3 playback, Bluetooth streaming and a 5.8-inch LCD screen keep the folks inside entertained.
Slightly cheaper and loaded to the gills with premium features, but under-powered
Thousands cheaper and fun to drive, but not quite as powerful
Drastically less expensive, AWD and excellent mpg, but feels slow in comparison
Chock full of horsepower, torque and value, but not nearly as refined