The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is a roadster, one of two such models offered by this German manufacturer. Presented in standard SLK300 trim, SLK350 and AMG SLK55 models are also available for a roadster having the Porsche Boxster and BMW’s Z4 as its chief rivals.

Pricing and Equipment

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class starts at $47,000 (plus a $925 destination charge) for the SLK300. Buyers might also consider the SLK350 ($59,200) and the AMG SLK55 ($72,600). Four, six, and eight-cylinder engine choices are available.

Standard equipment for the model tested included:

  • Aluminum trim
  • Seventeen-inch, 10-spoke alloy wheels
  • Turbocharged 2-liter four-cylinder engine
  • Nine-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles
  • Sport suspension
  • Adaptive brake technology
  • Heated power-controlled side mirrors
  • Eight-way power sport seats
  • Four-way power steering column
  • Hands-free Bluetooth interface with audio streaming

Performance Pros

Mercedes-Benz SLK300
  • Mercedes-Benz swapped out the previous base engine, a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder for one displacing at 2 liters. The corresponding increase in power means the roadster can rocket to 60 mph from a dead stop in just under six seconds or about four-tenths of a second off the pace of the SLK350’s V6.
  • The 2016 model also upgrades the base engine’s transmission, going from a seven-speed automatic to a nine-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Despite the boost in performance, the base model sees a 2 mpg improvement in fuel economy over the previous SLK250.

Performance Cons

Our testers said that the SLK300 falls short of its competitors in emotional appeal from the driver's seat and doesn't have the steering wheel communication feel of the Porsche Boxster or the BMW Z4

Interior Pros

  • Mercedes-Benz craftsmanship is evident throughout the cabin. Leather and Nappa leather choices as well as available burl walnut or black ash wood trim underscore the refinement available.
  • The hard-top retractable roof was carefully conceived, fits tight when closed and is never drafty. Our editors felt that the SLK was coupe-like when driving with the roof up.

Interior Cons

  • The roadster’s interior seems dated as newer designs have found a way to other Mercedes-Benz models. However, the current look disappears in 2017 when a new model bearing the SLC nomenclature takes the SLK’s place.
  • Internet Brands’ taller editors expected the cabin to be tight and weren't wrong. Across the board, each one wished for an extra inch or two of legroom and a bit more play with the seats.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

Our testers found the SLK’s multi-link suspension offers a sharper feel than the previous version. Further, it can be outfitted with a conventional independent suspension or with user-selectable shocks.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

Such a hot car should have a manual transmission, right? Unfortunately, the manual gearbox was last offered in the 2015 model year. Low demand for a manual is the reason one is no longer offered.

The Bottom Line

Mercedes-Benz SLK300

If you don’t want to wait for the all-new SLC to arrive in 2017, the SLK-Class may be just right for you. Mercedes-Benz didn’t wait for the new model to arrive to swap out the base engine and transmission, delivering a more potent roadster. Fans of manual transmission will be disappointed, although the nine-speed automatic with paddle shifters provides one measure of gear-shifting control.