2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

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2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Review

By KBB.com Editors

KBB Expert Rating: 7.8

The original Mercedes-Benz SLK was a big hit, largely on the basis of its retractable hardtop roof, something the auto industry hadn't seen since the Ford Skyliner of the 1950s. Each successive version of the SLK has been given a more serious edge, and now, powerful available engines and muscular styling make the 2013 the most aggressive SLK ever. At the same time, the SLK remains less of a pure sports car than the Porsche Boxster, stressing comfort and prestige over pure driving dynamics. But few SLK buyers will take issue with that.

You'll Like This Car If...

If part of your self-image requires a great-looking convertible with a luxurious interior, it'll be easy to see yourself in a 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you play basketball (or even first base) for a living, you probably need more stretch-out room than the SLK offers. And if you need to carry much stuff, a 2-seater whose hardtop retracts into the trunk space doesn't make a lot of sense.

What's New for 2013

The Mercedes-Benz SLK was completely re-engineered for 2012, and rolls into 2013 with only minor upgrades. Mercedes' next-generation mbrace2 telematics system, with its many Internet-based features and applications, is now standard.

Driving the SLK-Class
Driving Impressions

Mercedes-Benz has worked hard to build sports car credibility into the new SLK, the third generation of the car. Each edition of the SLK has upped the performance ante as...

... Mercedes-Benz engineers try to put to rest the longstanding notion that the SLK is more a personal- luxury car than a sports car. Certainly the SLK has all the slick moves of a performance machine with good acceleration (the SLK350 noticeably more so than the SLK250), confident roadholding and taut, responsive steering. Thanks to a well-tuned suspension and substantial tires on 18-inch wheels, the SLK's cornering grip and stability are impressive. It's maybe still not as naturally light on its feet as a Porsche Boxster, but very satisfying to drive. Of course, the V8-engined SLK55 AMG with its 415 horsepower and sports-tuned suspension is an altogether different animal. A performance beast, really.

The SLK started the retractable-hardtop craze and it's still setting the pace. Buyers can select from three different top panels: standard body-colored polycarbonate, a panorama roof of tinted see-through polycarbonate, and the Magic Sky Control with variable tint you control electrically.

In a bid to make top-down motoring a more pleasant experience in cooler weather, M-B engineers have provided adjustable Air Guide deflectors on each roll bar and the Airscarf system, which delivers warm air to your neck from an outlet in the headrest.

2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Details

The 2013 SLK might not be as pure a sports car as some of its competitors, but that's a benefit in terms of comfort and convenience. The luscious interior is Mercedes-Benz deluxe in every way. One highlight is the thick-section, 3-spoke steering wheel that is flat-bottomed to help clear your thighs. The main gauges are two big analog circles that flank a screen displaying a wide variety of driver-selectable information. A twist-and-push electronic controller on the console operates audio and navigation features – not immediately intuitive, but it works.


Mercedes suggests the exterior design of the 2013 SLK is both futuristic and retro, and it actually is, in a way: It looks fresh and modern, yet there's no mistaking where it came from. The SLK borrows some cues, particularly its big-grille face, from the SLS AMG supercar. Though not a particularly large car, its stance and nose-down rake help establish a look of substance. And of course, the iconic retractable hardtop, unlike a soft canvas convertible top, means the body lines always look clean and finished, whether the top is up or down.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The SLK seats aren't just extremely comfortable, they are also covered in sun-reflecting leather that reduces the rate at which the seats heat up when the car is parked with the top down. Also standard is an audio system with a USB port and Bluetooth, and Mercedes' mbrace2 telematics with many new Internet- and smartphone-accessible features. Standard safety equipment includes a vast complement of airbags (knee, head, thorax), a driver-drowsiness monitor and active head restraints.

Optional Equipment

The optional COMAND system ups the audio ante with a 7-inch color display (standard is 5.8-inch), hard-drive-based GPS navigation, 10GB of music storage, and a 6-disc CD/DVD changer. The navigation system offers 3D maps and the ability to show alternate routes before you choose one. An optional SiriusXM feature provides real-time traffic information and weather forecasts. Also available are burl walnut trim, the Magic Sky Control adjustable-tint roof, bi-xenon headlights that look into curves, and a Dynamic Handling Package with continuously adjusting suspension and driver-selectable modes.

Under the Hood

When you're going up against established players like the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z4, 201 horsepower seems a little underwhelming, but the base 2013 SLK250 makes the most of it with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmission. Powering the SLK350 is a 60-degree 3.5-liter V6 featuring direct fuel injection and multi-spark ignition. It makes 302 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, and works with the 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission. That's enough to rocket the SLK from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. The SLK55 AMG's V8 makes a lusty 415 horsepower. Both the V6 and V8 engines now incorporate ECO start/stop to save a little fuel sitting at stoplights.

1.8-liter turbocharged inline 4-cylinder
201 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
229 lb.-ft. of torque @ 2,000-4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg

3.5-liter V6
302 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
273 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3,500-5,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/29 mpg

5.5-liter V8
415 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
398 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/28 mpg

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