$31,685 - $48,711

2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class was new.


Performance: 8.2

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK should have appeal based on its cruising capabilities, which are even more fun with the top down. Through curves, the SLK stays stable and a powerful engine won’t leave you wanting for more. However, if you want the sharpest handling and the best overall driving experience, you'd be better off in a Porsche Boxster.

  • "At speed, the SLK could almost pass for an SL, as it's so stable and composed. … Unlike its big brother, the SLK feels at home on twisty roads too, attacking corners with an enthusiasm not traditionally associated with the 3-pointed star." -- AutoTrader
  • "The SLK still isn't as naturally light on its feet as a Boxster or Z4, but it's extremely satisfying to drive, especially with the top down and the tunes up." – Kelley Blue Book (2015)
  • "It wasn’t until the last generation that the SLK’s handling and performance delivered on the promise of its looks. This latest is sportier yet, but it's not a hard-core, elemental sports car like the Boxster. Nor does it have the brute force and superhero bravado of the Corvette." – Car and Driver (2012)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 Mercedes-Benz SLK300 is powered by a new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 241 horsepower, 40 more than the old 2015 SLK250. You'll have no trouble putting the hammer down and getting a rush of adrenaline. Though it still isn't exactly a muscle car, the base SLK's acceleration now matches what base models of the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z4 offer. Fuel economy has also improved to 25/32 mpg city/highway, which is excellent for the class.

The SLK350's 302-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 provides a nice boost of power for the SLK. It doesn't quite have the same acceleration as the BMW Z4 sDrive35i, but the power will still feel plentiful when you're cruising down the highway with the top down.

The Mercedes-AMG SLK55's small size combined with the enormous power of its 416-horsepower, 5.5-liter V8 make for very quick acceleration. It's important to note, however, that the SLK55 is not as quick as the less expensive Porsche Boxster S. According to Mercedes-Benz, the SLK55 accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Porsche says the Boxster S will go from zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds (4.2 with the optional Sport Chrono Package).

While most of its sports car rivals are available with a manual transmission, the SLK is not. That's a shame, because both the SLK55 and the SLK350 come with a seven-speed automatic transmission that shifts slowly, even when you use the included manual shifting paddles on the steering wheel. That means there's a delay between when you put your foot down on the accelerator and when the car downshifts and starts accelerating, which isn't a particularly sporty feeling.

See a full list of specs »

  • "Since the SLK350's V6 is also found in the E-Class luxury sedan, it's more than enough for something this size. The acceleration is strapping at virtually any speed. The AMG version's big V8 in the little SLK is a recipe for giant thrills, accompanied by a stirring exhaust note." -- AutoTrader
  • "The SLK300 and its new, larger turbocharged four-cylinder is now fully competitive with the base models of its primary competitors: the Z4 and Boxster. The SLK350 trails the BMW Z4 sDrive35i's acceleration numbers, but in the real world the midrange SLK has plenty of get-up when you give it the spurs, and the exhaust note verges on thrilling. Meanwhile, the 415-hp AMG SLK55 is a blast to drive, providing the power of a muscle car in a compact, German roadster." -- Edmunds
  • "The automatic transmission is generally responsive, but it can dither between gears, and it isn't as lightning quick as the dual-clutch automated manuals offered by the competition. Shifting manually via the steering-wheel paddles helps, but the shifts still aren't that quick." – Consumer Guide (2013)

Ride, Handling, and Braking

The 2016 SLK feels poised when you're on a winding road. However, it doesn't offer the buttoned-down feel of a Porsche Boxster, or even a BMW Z4. The Boxster's tight steering and flat cornering behavior make it a master class in chassis engineering. It's a blast to drive in a way that the 2016 SLK will never be.

The SLK's real strength is its comfortable ride on the highway. Many sports cars have stiff suspensions that sacrifice ride quality for sharper handling. Mercedes chose to favor comfort over sportiness, making it more of a touring car than something to take to the track.

  • "The 2016 SLK-Class is reasonably athletic when going around turns, and most drivers will find it quite enjoyable. It also provides the smooth, composed ride that Mercedes drivers expect. It's a deft two-step that most other roadsters can't pull off, though it's very much in keeping with SL family values." -- Edmunds
  • "Deft suspension tuning and accurate steering make the roadster a willing partner in crime for backroad blitzes, though it is equally happy playing the role of grand tourer for long-distance highway trips." – Left Lane News
  • "At screeching cornering speeds, there's a Porsche-level relationship between the steering and driver, with a bit more novocaine numbness than in a Porsche." – Car and Driver (2012)

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