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2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Review

Mercedes-Benz's three-pointed star has long been synonymous with style and prestige, but it has historically taken a backseat to BMW's blue and white propeller as a symbol of driving excitement. This was certainly true of the first-generation SLK roadster, which offered decent straight-line speed and a then-novel folding hardtop but lost points due to its archaic recirculating-ball steering design and generally less-than-sporting demeanor. But when the folks at Mercedes set about redesigning the SLK a few years ago, they had evidently grown tired of playing second fiddle to their Bavarian rival in the minds of discerning drivers. That's the only way to explain the downright frisky performance of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class roadster.

2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class-12009 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class-2Now in its fourth year of production, the current-generation SLK continues to offer sports-carlike handling, broad-shouldered power and the all-weather convenience of a retractable hardtop. Blessed with numerous updates for 2009, this aging model remains one of the most capable and desirable cars in its class. While purists may be tempted by the standard manual transmission on base SLK300 models, speed lovers of all stripes will be intrigued by the midlevel SLK350's newly pumped-up engine. Boasting 300 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque -- increases of 32 hp and 7 lb-ft over last year -- the already quick SLK350 should be noticeably quicker. Also of note, all 2009 SLKs are endowed with what Mercedes calls a "Direct Steer System," which includes a 25 percent quicker steering ratio and a progressive-effort build-up based on steering angle. Other enhancements include a new 5-inch LCD screen, an in-dash six-CD changer, freshened exterior styling and optional iPod/MP3 connectivity.

None of this comes cheap, naturally, and the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK is one of the most expensive choices for a luxury convertible or roadster. As such, one could also consider the sublime Porsche Boxster as well as less desirable (but less expensive) models like the Audi TT, BMW Z4, Honda S2000 and Nissan 350Z. However, these ragtop models lack the Benz's retractable hardtop, and they would be hard-pressed to match the SLK's classy interior appointments. What really sets the SLK apart, though, is its complete package. In the premium roadster segment, at least, the three-pointed star is now synonymous with performance as well as other, more traditional Mercedes traits.

© Source: edmunds
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