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Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG: Beauty with a beast's heart

By Arup Das
September 08, 2014 16:48 IST
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The Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG’s biggest strength is that despite its uber luxe branding, it can be a car for your daily drive

If the Mercedes-Benz SLK hard-top convertible wasn’t already a stunner in the looks department, the German car maker has now given it a heart of a beast. The SLK 55 AMG has suddenly got, with a 5.5 litre AMG innard, the lung power to go from 0 to 100 km in just 4.6 seconds. And if you still aren’t impressed by the AMG badge, its sporty body kit and new power, then the roar of the 5,461cc V8 engine when it switches on will certainly make you realise that your leonine machine is a monster in disguise.

As you know, the AMG tag is all about unbridled horsepower that makes you chafe impatiently if you don’t cross the red line on the speedometer. And of course, this is possible only because of the stratospheric price at which such indulgences come. The new SLK is true to its AMG genes and ticks the boxes on all these criteria.

It may be a powerhouse, but the SLK 55 AMG is a versatile convertible and can patiently purr in slow traffic without making a fuss. The secret behind this is the 7-speed gear box which tames the engine in the comfort mode and forces the rpm needle to stay in low profile. This makes the car easy to handle during rush hour traffic because changing gear becomes easier. But trust me when I say this, the SLK is not all show and no go. It transforms into a completely different vehicle when it goes into the sports mode.

Here, we see a completely different side to the car as it lurches forward, hitting the high notes on the rev meter. In this mode, it holds on to the gears a bit longer than in the comfort mode. When you hit the brakes, it quickly downshifts, letting you hear a symphonic exhaust note.

But this is also where the SLK tests your patience because it takes a moment or two before it upshifts again — and for seconds you feel you have been left high and dry. But there is a solution for this. Go for the manual mode. In this mode, you are the complete master of the SLK’s fate. Employ the aluminium shift paddles that lie behind the steering wheel, and send the engine revving with gusto to 7,000 rpm.

You may find the car’s price tag intimidating, but the SLK 55 AMG has, believe it or not, the world’s most economical eight-cylinder engine. It uses a newly developed technology called AMG Cylinder Management System. The system automatically shuts off four of the eight cylinders based on driving requirements. This reduces fuel consumption by almost 30 per cent compared with the previous models of the AMG engines. This technology is also used in Formula 1 car engines, where four or even six cylinders are deactivated by cutting off the fuel injection during safety car laps or pit stops. To improve efficiency levels further, the SLK AMG also comes with start-stop technology.

Power numbers translate into serious fun only if the car is a crisp handler, and the SLK is. It is sharp while taking turns without compromising the ride quality. This is where it showcases its practical aspect — it successfully tames the bumps and ditches unlike other speed machines. It does not crash into potholes, and as result you are assured of no sore back. What impressed me is that even though it is a low car, I never felt its floor board scraping the uneven roads. And yes, the SLK 55 AMG can be your drive on a daily basis, though I can’t guarantee that the autowallahs will let you have a field day on the road. The AMG chassis and tyres offer incredible grip and keep the car stable. If you are in a mischievous mood, then downshift at a respectable 100 kmph and let the rear drift! I don’t recommend it, but just to tell you, the car remains under control.

The convertible looks very aggressive with its matte black 18-inch wheels, which is a contrast to the overall white colour scheme of the car and gives it a dash of character. The darkened front and rear lights with a new LED strip impart a bit of a bad-boy image to the machine. The sports seats are extremely comfortable and provide good back support. The red leather upholstery is redolent of whimsical luxury, while the centre console and the door panels are catchy with their carbon-fibre finish. The sunroof has the Magic Sky Control technology that lets you dim it to a shade of blue or darken it completely to block out the sun rays.

The SLK 55 AMG is a sureshot show stopper, but at the same time is a capable car. It can do both competently — hit break-neck speed and tame corners without batting an eye lid. It manages to hold its own in Indian driving conditions, which is a big plus. Its biggest strength is that despite its uber luxe branding, it is a car that can be driven on a daily basis if you want to do so. The AMG badging naturally adds to an already high price tag, but then what you get is a two-in-one: a beauty and a beast.

Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG

  • Engine: 5,461cc
  • Power: 421 hp @ 6800 rpm
  • Torque: 540 Nm @ 4500 rpm
  • 0-100 kmph: 4.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 250 kmph
  • Tank capacity: 11.9 kmpl (ARAI)
  • Price: Rs 1.26 crore (Ex-showroom, Delhi)

Arup Das is Features Editor at AutoX

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