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Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG

Broadcast dates : 11th September 2005
17th September 2005

The AMG recipe for the SLK is quite simple… toss out the 3,5 litre V6 – which by the way is a lovely engine – mash in an over-bored V8, stir in some stiffer suspension and bigger wheels, and sprinkle with a carefully-crafted bodykit.

The result is a lip-smacking steel-roofed sportster with a fold-down top that happens to be a mini-monster in disguise.

If the Germans had built the immortal AC Cobra, it would have looked and driven very much like the SLK 55 AMG.

Each and every AMG is assembled by a single specialist technician from sump-plug through to the engine cover, which carries his laser-etched signature on a special plate.

This is the car that has seen Mercedes finally emerge as a builder of driving machinery to rival the likes of the Porsche 911.

Pedants will argue that the first folding steel roof was seen in a 1930’s Peugeot and followed by the 1957 Ford Skyliner.

But Mercedes takes credit for reintroducing an idea that has since been copied by a dozen other manufacturers since 1996.

The first-gen SLK was the most successful car in its class with over 300 000 built. 

But this version, in 1,8, 3,5, and 5,5 litre form, will surely surpass those figures.
Thanks to a short wheelbase, lightish overall weight for a V8, a glorious engine note and entertaining handling, it’s one of the most fun-filled sports cars around.

Without its myriad traction and skid-control aids it would be exiting stage left, backwards, every time you flattened the loud pedal.

As for that shape, at first the mini-SLR nose looked a bit contrived. One year later it’s the quintessential SLK look.

In fact, this car is now so good it’s made the larger SL versions seem a bit unwieldy, superfluous even.

The cockpit is snug for tall people. But with multiple seat and steering wheel adjustment, even very tall people can get comfortable.

The centre console is typically covered with a multitude of buttons – too many for comfort – but they are logically laid-out.

The steering wheel has button gearshifting, but we felt happiest letting that superb seven G-Tronic automatic gearbox do its own thing.

This is probably the best fully-automatic ’box out there, and matches that raucous V8 perfectly.

Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG
  • Engine: V8 petrol (naturally aspirated) 5 439 cc
  • Power: 270 kW @ 5 750 rpm
  • Torque: 510 Nm @ 4 000 rpm
  • Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel-drive
  • 0-100 km/h: 4,9 seconds (claimed)
  • Top speed: 250 km/h (limited) 
  • Fuel consumption: 15 –to 16 litres/100 km (tested)
  • Price: R665 000
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