Performance, style and a strong engine… the Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG is guaranteed to excite, writes Ameya Dandekar

AMG cars are always special. Mercedes-Benz’s performance arm’s formula is quite simple — take a regular car and stuff massive power into it. It is a recipe guaranteed to excite. And the Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG is no exception. With 416 horses under the hood, this is one great performer.

The mother of all these horses is the 5461cc V8 engine, which is identical to the one in the E63 AMG. But unlike the E63, there are no turbochargers in the SLK 55 AMG. Open the bonnet and you can see what a tight fit the V8 is in its compact engine bay. Add to that the fact that the SLK AMG has 115bhp more and is just 60kg heavier than the SLK 350, and you get an impression of just how much quicker the AMG variant is.

But more than the power, it’s the motor’s torque which pins you back in a firm linear shove. A 0-100kph time of 5.97sec in the convertible tells only half the story, because launching a front-engined, rear-drive car is not that easy. The more telling figure is the 0-200kph time of 18.71sec, which is quicker than the SLK 350 by a massive 7 seconds. Without a doubt, the SLK AMG has genuine sportscar pace. Yet, it is also very easy to drive.

The gearbox has three modes, and in Comfort mode it upshifts rapidly, keeping the revs low and the power manageable. There is a gear-shift indicator that tells you to shift up as you near the redline. That’s useful, although it’s rather hard to miss the engine approaching its 7000rpm limit – your brain will be distracted by the glorious noise coming from the exhaust pipe, especially with the roof down.

While the performance of the SLK 55 AMG sets your pulse racing, the ride and handling brings it back to normal. There is nothing really wrong per se; it is just that there exists a car called the Porsche Boxster S, which is what you should aim your wallet at if you want pure driving thrills. On its own, the SLK AMG is quite a capable car and sports a very safe handling package. The AMG version gets lowered sports suspension and this takes the handling up a notch over the standard car. Still, the chassis itself provides plenty of grip and responds well enough to driver input.

The SLK 55 AMG works well as a Grand Tourer (the limiting factor being the small boot, of course), with its supple high-speed ride and strong motor. Though the low-speed ride is decent, there is quite a bit of scuttle and shake whenever you hit a rough patch. This is more apparent with the roof down.

On the inside, there aren’t many changes and you get the same high-quality dash. The circular theme looks nice and the extra padding on the leather-wrapped steering wheel adds to the sporty character. There are the usual AMG additions like the red AMG sport seats, and carbon-fibre on the doorpads and centre console. On the outside, you get the usual AMG kit, which includes the beautifully sculpted black wheels, skirts and a boot spoiler. All these elements add to make the convertible look special and you won’t ever mistake it for the lesser SLKs.

The Mercedes SLK 55 AMG is priced at Rs. 1.26 crore. So, if you are looking for a car that entertains your senses every time you step on the gas, you can’t really go wrong with this Merc.