What Changed for 2009:
- Retracting-top roadster redesigned inside and out
- New front end influenced by Formula One racing
- New 3-spoke steering wheel puts many functions at driver's fingertips
- Optional Direct Steer technology
- Engines add power but cut fuel use and emissions
- New 17-inch wheels for SLK300 (replacing SLK280) and SLK350
- New-generation audio system includes hands-free phone link
- Optional voice control for audio system
German luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz
launched its compact SLK 2-seat roadster as a 1998 model. Among the car's key features were its much-praised design and a hardtop that folded itself under the trunk lid at the touch of a button. The car entered its second generation in 2004
, bearing direct design cues from the Mercedes-powered McLaren Formula One racecar.
The 2008 production run was brief
, because the extensively updated 2009 SLK launched in April 2008, as a 2009 model. Mercedes says it developed some 650 new parts and components for the 2009 SLK, giving it an "even more dynamic" appearance and providing "an even more emotionally charged driving experience." Among other modifications, the revised rear apron incorporates an air diffuser and trapezoidal exhaust outlet tips have been installed. The 2009 model features a restyled grille, front/rear fascias, mirrors and taillights. Inside are new push-pull window controls. Mercedes-Benz says the top retracts or rises in just 22 seconds to provide either open-air or weather-proof driving experiences.
Each Mercedes-Benz SLK for 2009 comes with a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty that includes 24-hour roadside assistance.Model Lineup
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK is available in three versions: SLK300 (replacing the prior SLK280), SLK350 and SLK55 AMG. The major differentiator between the models is found with the particular powertrain. The AMG version receives special bodywork, larger brakes, new direct steering gear, and a revised suspension for 2009.
Mercedes says it wanted to make the SLK's interior more driver-focused. The 2009 model receives a new 3-spoke steering wheel with multi-function controls and a new chronometer-type instrument cluster set within redesigned bezels. The SLK also receives the new NGT 2.5 generation of audio and telematics components. All audio systems have hands-free capability with Bluetooth technology, and are offered with an optional media interface in the glove box so mobile audio devices such as an iPod may be integrated into the audio system and thus operated from the audio system control panel or through optional Linguatronic voice controls, which are offered in the SLK for the first time. The SLK interior also has been reworked to enhance the audio experience whether the top is up or down, especially when the optional harman/kardon Logic7 sound system is installed.
An optional AIRSCARF system, built into seatbacks, blows warm air from the head restraints to neck-level, permitting comfortable cruising with the retractable roof open in cooler weather. A new optional multimedia package includes harman/kardon premium audio, navigation system with a larger display, SD memory card slot, and a hard drive. An optional Sport package for the SLK350 includes AMG body styling, sport suspension, shift paddles, 18-inch AMG wheels-plus automatic "throttle-blipping" for virtually jolt-free downshifts, according to Mercedes.Powertrain
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK300 comes with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine that pumps out 228 hp and 221 lb.-ft. of torque. That power reaches the rear wheels through a standard 6-speed manual transmission or the 7G-tronic automatic transmission that features shift paddles on the steering wheel so drivers may select gears as needed. Mercedes says the 3.0-liter engine has been optimized for lower fuel consumption and reduced C02
emissions. The EPA rates the car at 17 mpg city/26 mpg highway with the manual transmission and 19 mpg city/26 mpg highway with the automatic.
The SLK350 carries what Mercedes says is a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that has undergone a major overhaul and now produces 300 hp (32 more than the previous version) and 265 lb.-ft. of torque. Even though it is more powerful, Mercedes says the high-revving engine also provides better fuel economy and thus reduced CO2
emissions. It is linked to the 7G-tronic automatic transmission, which blips the throttle during downshifts for enhanced sound, performance and durability. Mercedes promises that the engine "strikes a far more emotive-sounding note." Changes to the 3.5-liter engine include a higher rev limit, increased compression ratio, new intake manifold and what Mercedes calls "extensive" modifications to the valvetrain. EPA fuel-economy ratings are 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway.
Unchanged for 2009 is the 5.5-liter V-8 engine that powers the high-performance SLK55 AMG model. AMG is Mercedes' in-house high-performance department, which does hand-built modification to boost the dynamic capabilities of various Mercedes-Benz models. For the SLK55 AMG, the 355-hp, 376 lb.-ft. powerplant comes with an AMG Speedshift version of the 7G-tronic gearbox. The SLK55 AMG is EPA-rated at 14 mpg city/22 mpg highway.Safety
All 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK models contain integrated roll bars as well as an array of air bags that includes dual-stage driver and passenger front air bags, knee-protecting air bags, and side air bags in the seatbacks that protect both the head and thorax. Mercedes notes that its side air bags are designed to provide protection similar to that provided by the curtain-type air bags in its hardtop vehicles. Mercedes-Benz's Electronic Stability Program, the maker says, helps prevent skids and spins on slippery surfaces by applying brakes to individual wheels or reducing engine power. Full-range traction control is standard on all models, along with anti-locking all-disc brakes.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLK has not been crash tested by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA
) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS
Mercedes says its new Direct Steer system with variable power assistance is designed to elicit the best performance from the suspension's sporty capabilities. The system is said to provide enhanced agility and maneuverability on twisting rural roads, as well as easier steering when parking and cornering.
Operating mechanically, the Direct Steer system is derived from the previous speed-sensitive power steering. This, says Mercedes, dispenses with the need for sophisticated actuator units and complex sensors. Mercedes says the heart of the system is a new steering rack with gearing designed to alter the steering gear ratio as steering angle changes. Around the central position, the steering has an indirect ratio for straight-line stability. When the steering wheel is turned past an angle of 5 degrees during cornering, the ratio increases rapidly and steering feels far more direct, according to the manufacturer. Thus, the number of steering-wheel turns from lock-to-lock is reduced by around 25 percent. Consequently, relatively small turns of the steering wheel are sufficient for changing course in city traffic. Meanwhile, says Mercedes, high-speed twisty sections of country roads can be negotiated safely, precisely and with "enormous" pleasure, using relatively small steering movements.
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