The new Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG is not only the most powerful SLK of all time but is the world’s most economical petrol V8 engine too – and it comes with an optional ‘magic’ roof.
The AMG badge normally stands for performance alone, but the new SLK is also kinder to the environment than its predecessors, as well as being very fast. Power comes courtesy of a newly developed AMG 5.5-litre petrol V8 that develops 422 hp and 540 Nm of torque allowing it to hit an electronically-limited top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h) and the benchmark 62 mph (100 km/h) in just 4.6 seconds.
It’s a thoughtful engine too. The Cylinder Management shut-off system is selected by the driver and closes down cylinders two, three, five and eight under partial load, helping it to average fuel consumption of 33.6mpg whilst producing only 195 grams per kilometre – a 30 per cent improvement on the outgoing model. When more power is needed, the four cylinders are reopened giving immediate power in under 30 milliseconds, according to Mercedes. Selecting the ‘Controlled Efficiency’ mode on the transmission also activates the start/stop function, whereby the engine cuts out when the car is stationary, restarting when the foot brake is released or accelerator depressed.
The standard folding roof opens and closes electronically in less than 20 seconds and converts the car from an open sports car to a closed coupé at the touch of a button. However, if a standard roof is a bit boring and you want to let a little wizardry into your life, the SLK can now be specified with MAGIC SKY CONTROL, an innovative, and so far unique feature, which switches the glass roof from a light to dark tint at the press of a button. When it is light it is virtually transparent, giving the illusion of open air motoring whilst still being isolated from the elements.
Other driver-oriented features include the AMG SPEEDSHIFT PLUS 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission which features three transmission modes: AMG sports suspension: 3-stage ESP: Torque Vectoring Brakes and AMG Direct-Steer, all allowing sporty handling with sure footed road holding.
As a nod to the car’s past the vent grilles have chrome-plated fins in the front wings that are reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster from the 1950s. The roadster also sports “V8 AMG” lettering, AMG-specific side sill panels, a rear spoiler that helps prevent lift at high speed, a unique black diffuser insert with three fins and chrome-plated twin tailpipes on the exhaust system.
Proving that Mercedes engineers haven’t forgotten about the sheer pleasure to be derived from driving the Mercedes SLK 55 AMG also has adjustable exhaust flaps, allowing either a throaty growl at high engine revs or a subdued purr lower down the range, depending on the driver’s acceleration. Inside it is finished in brushed aluminium and perforated leather with an optional IWC analogue clock.
If you want an even more economical drop-top Mercedes, then you can also buy the new SLK with a diesel engine, for the first time in the company’s history. The 2.1-litre CDI unit produces 204bhp, 132g/km and returns 56.5 mpg, yet still has a top speed of 150 mph (241 km/h) and hits 62 mph (100km/h) in 6.7 seconds – and you can have a magic roof on it too.
The new SLK 55 AMG will launch in the UK in January 2012, with the final specification and pricing yet to be confirmed.