The 55 AMG looks macho in white, with black detailing. The car gets a smart new LED DRL strip, matt black 18-inch wheels, and a new diffuser with four hot looking AMG tail pipes.
The interiors look sporty: The seats are spacious, supportive and comfortable; their deep red leather trim extends to the doors; there’s a smart carbon fibre finish on the centre console and door trim. There are some smart touches, like the movable wind deflectors behind the seats and the air scarf system.
AMG cars are almost always dominated by the engine and the 55 AMG gets a masterpiece: 421 PS of peak power at 6,800 rpm, and 540 Nm of twisting force at 4,500 rpm; it comes with AMG Cylinder Management technology that shuts off half the cylinders at a lighter load, making it more efficient.
It’s obviously fast, and even without launch control it shot to 100 kmph from a standstill in 5.4 seconds. Top speed is limited at 250 kmph. It sounds like a proper AMG: The V8 burbles at idle and bellows at the redline, while making quick and aural rev-matched downshifts.
Transmission duties are handled by a 7-speed dual clutch box. Keep it in Sports mode and it will shift for you but the best way to drive the car is to stick it in Manual mode and shift using the paddles. Downshifts arrive quickly but upshifts have an irritating delay.
The SLK 350 was already a sharp handler and the AMG version only improves on this. Steering is sharp, direct and offers decent feedback. Braking performance is strong. Ride quality is also supple with no bone-jarring thuds through potholes; the car has usable ground clearance. This, the compact dimensions and reasonably comfy ride make it easy to live with on a daily basis.
The 55 AMG is a very accomp-lished roadster with plenty of unique creature comforts. However the pricing has me struggling to make sense of this car’s positioning. For this price I could get a Porsche Boxster S that offers similar performance, gorgeous styling and superior handling, and I’d still save over Rs 30 lakh. If it’s a V8 engine I want, the more powerful Audi RS5 retails for not much more than the Boxster. For the price of this Merc, I could even have a base rear-engined 911 Carrera.
The SLK 55 AMG is a great car, but not a very strong buying proposition.
(This story appears in the 21 February, 2014 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)