By KBB.com Editors
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK is one of the more desirable premium roadsters, as it offers the advantages of both a hardtop coupe and an open-air convertible. Mercedes-Benz helped pioneer the retractable hardtop and the latest iteration operates with unwavering efficiency, capable of being raised or lowered in just 22 seconds. Beyond the SLK's gorgeous exterior, stunning interior and enthusiast-inspired performance and handling capabilities, the car's most attractive feature is its price. With a sticker starting around $45,000, the SLK is well within reach of luxury car buyers seeking a fun second vehicle for weekend getaways or romantic moonlight drives. A tiny trunk and minimal interior storage might limit how far you go and how much you take, but you'll enjoy every minute of it.You'll Like This Car If...
If you love the idea of open-air driving but are concerned about the long-term reliability and security provided by a canvas soft-top, the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK might be the answer to your automotive dreams. The SLK's retractable hardtop will last the life of the car, can't be cut open and operates with just the touch of a button.You May Not Like This Car If...
Tall folks may find legroom a little tight, especially on the passenger side where the firewall can cramp big shoes. Though the price is reasonable for the make, there are now much less expensive hardtop convertibles on the market, such as the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Volkswagen Eos.What's New for 2009
The SLK280 is replaced by the SLK300, which features the same engine but with a few more standard features. The SLK350 receives a bump in power to 300 horsepower and new 17-inch wheels. All SLK's receive slight exterior changes as well as a new variable ratio Direct Steering System.Driving It Driving Impressions
The SLK350's 3.5-liter V6 makes 300 horsepower and can move the slick little roadster from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than six seconds. The experience is made all the more pleasurable by a quick-shifting six-speed manual transmission; the optional seven-speed automatic is equally as pleasing. The SLK feels more composed on the road than previous generations. Its ride has definitely been improved, with less harshness over bumps and improved stability in tight turns. You'll find that the steering is precise but somewhat heavy, requiring authoritative input from the driver. With the top down, the AIRSCARF neck heater blows hard enough to take the chill out of the morning air, or the retractable hardtop can be locked in place, creating a cozy but quiet environment.Favorite Features
The AIRSCARF seat heating system blows warm air on the back of your neck and shoulders, keeping you warm when the air outside isn't.
Improved Clear Coat Paint
Improved Clear Coat paint is 40 percent more durable, helping to resist small scratching that appears after repeated washing and waxing.
Mercedes has done a wonderful job of organizing the SLK's interior without losing the look and feel common to all Mercedes products. The supportive bucket seats include the clever AIRSCARF option that blows warm air on the back of the neck, a nice feature to have when cruising on crisp autumn mornings. The SLK's retractable hardtop still eats up trunk space, but the design responsibly leaves some usable room for storing small luggage and valuables.Exterior
It's amazing what a few extra inches can do for a car. Compared to the first-generation SLK, the 2009 model feels downright spacious. The SLK's wide footprint gives it a low and athletic stance, and its SLR McLaren-like front end turns heads at every encounter. The perfectly aligned side bodylines appear as though carved from a single block of steel, with a gently-curved rear end that features flush-mounted cut-in tail lights and twin trapezoidal exhaust ports. The SLK looks as good with its retractable hardtop in place as it does when that top is tucked away beneath the color-matched hard cover.Notable Standard Equipment
The SLK comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), traction control, slip control, stability control, dual-zone automatic air conditioning, front and rear fog lights, dual-heated power mirrors, AM/FM stereo with six-disc CD changer, dual front knee and side-impact airbags, leather seats, cruise control, leather-wrapped tilt/telescopic steering wheel and 17-inch alloy wheels.Notable Optional Equipment
Options include a seven-speed automatic with manual-shift mode, dual eight-way power seats with memory, heated seats, harman/kardon audio, navigation, HID headlamps and several different designo designer trim packages.Under the Hood
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK300 has a 228-horsepower V6 that feels plenty peppy, but not rocket-ship fast. If you can swing the extra cash, the SLK350 is the way to go. If money is no object, you don't mind a harsher ride and you want the most in performance, the SLK55 AMG is sure to please.
228 horsepower @ 6100 rpm
221 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2700-5000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/26 (manual), 19/26 (automatic)
300 horsepower @ 6500 rpm
265 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4900 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 (manual), 18/26 (automatic)
355 horsepower @ 5750 rpm
376 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/22
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK300's Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts around $46,000, while the SLK350 starts around $51,000 and the limited-edition SLK55 AMG lists for around $67,000. Though the SLK is a hot commodity, dealers are being reasonable with pricing. A look at the Fair Purchase Price shows the typical transaction price of an SLK350 with navigation, harman/kardon audio, HID headlamps and dual power and heated seats to be at or near MSRP. Before you set out to purchase, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers are currently paying in your area. As for the long-term, Kelley Blue Book expects both the V6 and V8 models to hold a better-than-average projected resale value, just slightly below the Porsche Boxster S, Audi TT and BMW Z4.