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Mercedes SLK 55 AMG: First Indian review

Driven December 2013

Mercedes SLK 55 AMG: First Indian review

Retractable hard-top, thunders of a gigantic V8, a work of art from the AMG storehouse, drama and madness. This is what we've been treated with since morning. To be precise, Mercedes calls this fire-breathing, tyre-molesting machine as SLK 55 AMG. And it is absolutely mental!

To start with, let me tell you that it's the same engine that you find under the hood of the E63 AMG and the G63 AMG; just that it's a bit detuned to put out a rather modest (by AMG standards) 420bhp of power and 540Nm of torque compared to E63's 557bhp. The engine has been handcrafted by a bloke whose expertise lies in putting out loud roars and horses out of a metal block in the AMG factory.

And he's done a bloody good job of that. As a result, the power pours out in a nice and linear manner, and the engine piles on revs effortlessly right till it redlines at 7000rpm. And the by-product of that is a lovely exhaust note that has woken up most of Lonavla in the wee morning hours.

All that power and torque is channelled to the rear wheels through a seven-speed auto gearbox. The gearbox is a bit of a split personality. Slot it in Eco mode and it'll try to keep the revs low by upshifting as soon as it can. But put it in Sport and it changes character rapidly. It holds on the gears for much longer than it otherwise would, quickens the shift times and downshift as soon as you hit the brakes to keep you in the powerband at all times.

All that power through the rear wheels translates into it cracking up from 0 to 100kph in 5.63 seconds. But it also translates into the V8 guzzling down a litre of petrol in just 5km.

Sure, convertibles and our weather don't go well together, but luckily the suspension doesn't hate our roads too much. The ride is good. To give you a perspective on how good it is, let me put it this way – it's a couple of notches better than the BMW Z4 but a couple of notches stiffer than the Porsche Boxster.

This SLK on steroids knows how to take a corner quickly. It sticks to its line without much fuss and if you go down on the throttle, it does tend to predictably slide a bit. However, it controls its weight nicely and keeps the body roll in check.

The SLK 55 AMG looks as ferocious as it drives. The front gets a large grille and fins to distinguish it from the regular SLK, the fenders have vents on them that help the monster V8 ventilate heat, and the sides get a typical AMG style body kit. There's also a spoiler on the boot so that you don't mistake it for the regular SLK when you see it overtake you briskly. Inside too, there are quite a few AMG touches – classy interiors, round air vents, carbon fibre on the centre console and door panels. And the interesting and snazzy looking Magic Sky that turns blue to cut off the sun from entering the cabin has been carried over from the regular SLK. Our test car has come with matte black alloys that give an extra dose of sportiness to the styling.

Like all performance cars, this one too has an incredible ability to have an effect on your bank balance. Merc will be happy to sell one of these for Rs 1.26 crore (ex-showoom, Delhi).

This AMG is one car you need if you lack madness and drama in life. There's nothing subtle about it. It's loud in the way it looks, the way it sounds and be sure that you'll get out of the car with a broad smile right across your face.

The numbers
5461cc, 420bhp, 540Nm, petrol, 7A, RWD, 0-100kph: 5.63sec, 30-50kph: 1.10sec, 50-70kph: 1.14sec, 80-0kph: 24.27m; 2.20sec, overall kpl: 5, top speed: 250kph (limited), Rs 1.26 crore (ex-Delhi)

The verdict
Despite the detuning, you will never be left hungry for power. The ride won't break your back and handling will plaster a smile across your face

Agasti Kaulgi

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