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2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK300

By Benjamin Yong, 26 May, 2016 12:39 PM

    Although Mercedes-Benz is due to rename the classic SLK roadster in 2017 to SLC in order to maintain consistency with the changing brand nomenclature, that doesn’t mean they weren’t going to freshen the existing model before its badge is retired.

    For 2016, the SLK300 replaces the SLK250 and is packaged with a new engine and transmission combination. The former 1.8-litre four-cylinder mill producing 201 horsepower (hp) and 229 lb-ft of torque has been bumped up to a 2.0 L turbocharged four cylinder making 241 hp and 273 lb-ft.

    Paired to the powerplant is the 9G-TRONIC automatic nine-speed gearbox, which is an improved version of the outgoing seven-speed. Stepping on the throttle results in snappy, seamless shifting that really gives the SLK300 some jolt in a civilized, largely quiet fashion. It might not sound like it, but acceleration is brisk and 0-100 km/h can be achieved in 5.8 seconds, according to manufacturer specs.

    You can vary the amount and aggressiveness of the gear changes through three selectable modes: Economy, Sport and Manual, the latter to be used in conjunction with the steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. There is also an unobtrusive ECO Start/Stop function that turns off the engine while idling.

    Combined with the new powertrain setup, fuel economy is improved, and over a week of testing, in both top up and down conditions, I averaged a combined city and highway consumption figure of 11.9 L/100 km.

    The roadster’s appearance has been steadily improving throughout the generations, and the current variant embodies a look that conveys performance and elegant top-down motoring. The large bi-xenon headlamps and rotund emblem fill the face of the car, and the sport suspension gives the SLK a low, squatted stance.

     

    My press vehicle had a handful of bundled options that make sitting and driving in it even more enjoyable. The Panoramic Vario Roof, part of the Premium Package (PP), turns the hardtop into one giant moonroof. Operating the top is great fun as well – the controls are hidden under a flip-up leather palm rest straight out of Mission Impossible.

    Included in the PP is the COMAND navigation system, which still ranks among the better OEM GPS units I’ve used. The computer accepts destinations quickly and accurately, and inputs are easily entered using a rotary knob, something I normally find cumbersome to manipulate.

    PARKTRONIC is an available standalone option, and one I’m not sure I could live without. Using built-in sensors fitted around the car, the parking assistance feature emits a series of increasingly urgent beeps whenever you get too close to an unfriendly object. Even though there’s no backup camera, I didn’t feel as though visual assistance would have been all that more useful given the efficacy of the audible alerts.

    The SLK300 represents a refined open-air driving experience without too many flaws, so it will be interesting to see how Mercedes improves upon the two-seater in the remake. A mentionable downside, not necessarily unique to this convertible, is the limited trunk space. Especially when the hardtop is in the retracted position, opening becomes too narrow to fit a moderately-sized cardboard box.

    The 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK300 is on sale in dealerships now, and the SLC should reach our shores sometime this year.

     

     

    Highlights:

    MSRP: $58,100
     
    Motor: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
     
    Horsepower: 241 @ 5,500 rpm
     
    Torque (lb-ft): 273 @ 1,300 rpm
     
    Gearbox: Six-speed automatic
     
    Layout: Front engine, all-wheel drive
     
    Fuel economy: 11.9 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)

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