We all know the SLK as a rather timid looking hard top convertible with a front end taking inspiration from formula one. The SLK began the hard top convertible game in India and set the stage for others like the Z4 to enter the country. While this was India's first hard top convertible, the car also suffered from being largely underpowered with its 2.0-liter Kompressor engine making just 161PS. But now Mercedes-Benz has gone ahead and brought the upgraded SLK and we must say it looks a bit like a charging cougar than a domesticated tabby.
Is that an SLS?
Well, no. But it comes really close. The first thing that strikes you when you see the car is the completely reworked front end. The design takes inspiration from the flagship SLS AMG and now looks much more aggressive than the outgoing model and is dominated by a large, shiny, three pointed star. Mercedes' fascination with day time LED running lights make it to the SLK too along with bi-xenon headlamps featuring the Intelligent Lighting System which provides for some serious illumination. From the side the car is still classic SLK, but move to the rear and you see a completely reworked rear end. The rear loses its C-class-esque design for a more sharper and aggressive look. On the inside, design cues from the SLS makes an entry again, with the centre console, and aircraft inspired air-con vents all whispering supercar in your ear. The new steering wheel looks a lot like the unit that does duty in the new C-Class and just like in the C-Class, makes you want to never let go.
Now you see me, now you don't...
That's the roof talking. With the top up, the car looks like any other sports coupe. Press the little button tucked away in a little compartment and before you can recite "twinkle twinkle little star" the roof folds away into the boot to become a hot topless number in under 20 seconds. Now this foldaway roof is not like any other hard top convertible so far. It has what Mercedes calls Magic Sky Control. What it does is vary the opacity of the roof to let in 100 per cent of the light or keep out 75 per cent of it. Almost like magic.
Take me on a rocket ride
That is exactly what this car is. As earlier mentioned, one of the main complaints about the older SLK was that it seemed a tad underpowered for a compact sports car. This has been addressed by Mercedes in the simplest manner possible. They plonked a bigger engine in there. The SLK now uses the same engine that powers Mercedes' 350 cars, the 3.5-liter V6. So instead of the 161PS it made earlier, the car now makes 306PS. Combine this with 370Nm of torque at 3500rpm and you can see 100kmph in a mere 6.8 seconds (compared to the old car's manufacturer claimed 7.9 seconds). Now that's an improvement. But when you think the car makes power apt for a very fast sports car, you would expect it to have a very hard ride and scrape its bottom on every bump and speed breaker. If you thought so, you had might as well sit in a corner with a conical hat on, because this SLK has one of the best ride qualities among its competitors. The car glides over uneven sections of roads and some bad sections as well without the occupants feeling anything even close a jerk. And you don't need to wince in pain as you go over speed breakers as well. Surprisingly, the car goes over speed breakers without even once scraping its belly. Now that is impressive.
With so much going for it, the Merc definitely turns heads anywhere it goes. And if the looks don't do it, a slight blip of the throttle surely will. So then the Mercedes SLK has certainly upped the hard top convertible game for its competition. Whether the other will be able to keep; only time will tell. Till then, we feel some topless dancing is in order. The Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 is priced at Rs 61.9 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi).