In keeping with the sporty intentions of the SLK, all versions have a six-speed manual gearbox, while the minimum horsepower on offer is 161 from the 2.0-litre (supercharged) Kompressor, so all versions shift. The 2.3 Kompressor warms things up some more but the real performance comes from the 3.2 V6 and the SLK 32 AMG.
Mercedes-Benz SLK ride & handling
The promise of a lithe sports car suggested by the SLK's compact size isn't quite delivered. There's laziness in the steering, some body roll in bends, and the car isn't as light as it should be. Pay back is in the form of a smooth highway ride, even with the roof down. The AMG puts some strain on the chassis.
Mercedes-Benz SLK refinement
The SLK is impressively rigid for a roadster, even with the metal roof hidden away in the boot, and wind noise is well suppressed despite the presence of frameless windows. The well sealed cabin also shuts out road noise. The V6 engines are smooth and sweet-sounding; the two Kompressor units are not quite so sonorous when pushed.