First Drive: Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

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In design what stands out is the almost 45-degree angle of the windshield, which gives this sexy roadster great aerodynamics and also emphasises heavily on the "if looks could kill" image.

But the real fun starts only after you have strapped yourself in, behind the wheel, and let the revs hit the "are-you-crazy-levels" so that the intoxicating intake snarl captivates you. So, naturally, the first thing I did was switch off the audio system and listen to the V6's symphony. I promise you it will leave you toe tapping if not a bit of head banging too. 

With such a responsive heart and a transmission, which, unlike some other Benzes we have driven, isn't lethargic, this baby wants to sprint with not a care in the world. With so much power (302bhp) at your beck and call, one doesn't realise one is cruising in the 170-180kmph range! If only there were more empty stretches...

On the handling front, this roadster gives you a lot of confidence when you throw it into a sharp corner. Not only does the SLK holds its own but you don't have to battle or experience any scary understeer. But with the SLK being a mini-sports car of sorts, the steering wheel is the weak link in this fabulous package. Unfortunately it is just does not give the crisp response one expects from a roadster. 

The ride quality of the SLK is something worth raving about as Mercedes has not stiffened the suspension so much that you get to feel each bump or cat-eye on the road. Usually, car manufacturers go overboard with the suspension when it comes to two-seaters and one only ends up experiencing a bone jarring ride. The SLK though is extremely practical in the city limits and while tackling traffic. 

A talking point of the SLK 350 has to be the panoramic vario-roof. It gets the new Magic Sky Control roof — which alters its opacity at the push of a button. This snazzy transforming roof is now 50kg lighter too. With winter setting in, somehow the longer, wider and considerably more luxurious new SLK with it's roof tucked in the boot sounds like a good idea.


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