Make us your home page
The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek, Times Staff Writers

The Daily Drivers: Mercedes-Benz SLK350 doesn't fulfill its promise

Some may view the sleek SLK class as being the entry-level roadsters of Mercedes-Benz. The SLK300, for example, starts at about $47,000. What, you may ask, is wrong with a lower price point? Well, after driving the next-in-the-line SLK350, we'd have to say not a thing — as long as your expectations for the car are modest.

Appearance: This is the SLK's strength. Our tester came in Mars Red, a striking color that's perfect for a roadster. Mercedes says the car has "Formula 1-inspired" styling, and its wide front valance with mesh-covered air intakes, as well as sculpted side sills, attest to that racing heritage. A center bulge on the hood tapers down into the grille and surrounds Mercedes' familiar three-point star badge. Peter thinks the "nose" gives a car a bold and distinctive presence; Lyra thinks it's distinctively unattractive. With the top up, the coupe has a clean, rounded profile. Lyra likes the look better with the top down. Again we disagree; Peter thinks most hardtop roadsters look better top-up. We both liked the chrome dual-exhaust tips. One caution: Parking blocks are Public Enemy No. 1 for such a low car.

Performance: This isn't the AMG version of the SLK line, so the performance is a bit underwhelming. The high-revving 3.5-liter V-6 felt sluggish to us, even if it packs 300 horsepower. The gearbox, though, is a seven-speed automatic that shifts well, and the rear-wheel-drive roadster corners precisely.

Interior: Mercedes likes its Natural Beige — we've seen it on several models. Our tester was adorned with it for seats and trim, which contrasted well against the black and faux-aluminum of the hard surfaces. The deep-set dashboard gauges are a crisp white-on-black, which show up well even in bright sunlight. (There's also a multifunction display in the instrument cluster.) Mercedes does manage to cram a lot of its electronic goodies into the cabin, which results in some center console dials positioned low, behind the shifter, where they can be cumbersome to reach. There are two flimsy cup holders that retract into the dash, but with drinks in them, they block the center vents. We were surprised by some of the interior plastics, which didn't have the high-quality feel we've become accustomed to from Mercedes. Peter felt cramped, finding even his knees were too close to the steering wheel. The car is low, so if you are tall — or of a certain age — it might be troublesome. There's not much storage space either, save for a bin under the armrest and another small one between the seats. Like all hardtop convertibles, the trunk space is sacrificed to house the retracting roof, which opens/closes in 22 seconds. There's enough room for a weekend bag or a few bags of groceries, but not much else.

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture

Hardtop: It retracts in 22 seconds.

Body style: I think the front end of this little car makes a bold statement.

Seats: Mercedes loves beige leather and so do I.

Lyra Solochek

Eye candy: Compact and sleek. Mars Red paint is especially striking.

Gauges: Crisp and easy to see, especially important in a convertible.

Touch-turn: Slightly tap the turn signal and it blinks three times. Great for lane changes.

The bottom line: Our optioned-out tester came with a price tag of more than $60K. That's a lot of money for a small two-seater that doesn't push the performance envelope. It would make the perfect runabout for a night on the town.

2010 Mercedes-Benz


Price: $51,900, $61,325 as tested

Powertrain: 3.5-liter V-6, 7-speed automatic, RWD

Horsepower: 300 at 6,500 rpm

Torque: 265 pound-feet

at 4,900 rpm

0-60: 5.4 seconds

Seats: 2

Curb weight: 3,318 pounds


in inches:

Wheelbase, 96.7

Length, 161.5

Width, 70.4

Fuel economy:

18 miles per gallon city, 25 mpg highway

Safety features: Steel-reinforced cabin with crumple zones, air bags, ABS, dual integrated roll bars, night security illumination

Options worth considering: Various packages including premium, multimedia and sports


The Daily Drivers: Mercedes-Benz SLK350 doesn't fulfill its promise 11/12/10 [Last modified: Friday, November 12, 2010 3:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa's streetcar system looks to expand north through downtown


    TAMPA — The TECO Line Streetcar system that runs from Ybor City to the Channel District could be extended north through downtown all the way to Tampa Heights, according to the latest update of a $1.7 million study aimed at expanding the streetcar system.

    Riders take in the last few stops of the streetcar route in Ybor City during the tenth anniversary celebration of the TECO line streetcar system in Tampa in 2012. Now officials are looking for ways to expand the service north through downtown to Tampa Heights. [EVE EDELHEIT  |  Times]
  2. Tampa Bay small businesses give Tampa B+ for regulatory climate


    In a recent survey about small business sentiments toward state and local government policies that affect them, Tampa Bay ranked at No. 25 out of 80 — a B+ overall.

    Tampa Bay ranked No. 25 out of 80 in a recent survey about how small business owners feel about state and local government policies that affect them. | [Times file photo]
  3. Seminole Heights restaurants face struggles amid killings, post-Irma

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The neighborhood's hip circle of popular, well-regarded restaurants is feeling the squeeze in the wake of a recent killing spree. And the timing is rough.

    Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe has been taking precautions in light of the Seminole Heights killings: keeping the lights on all night and having employees walk to their cars in groups.
  4. St. Pete-Clearwater holding food, supply drive for hurricane refugees


    CLEARWATER — St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are holding a food and supply drive for the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pinellas County. The event, which will benefit refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria, will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the airport at 14700 Terminal Blvd.

    St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport and Allegiant Air are hosting a food and supplies drive Tuesday for refugees displaced by Hurricane Maria. | [Times file photo]
  5. Tallest building in Pinellas County in search of a new name

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — The name "Priatek" is gone from Pinellas County's tallest building, perhaps to be replaced by that of a much better-known company new to the Tampa Bay area.

    The Priatek name is off of downtown St. Petersburg's tallest building.
 [LARA CERRI  |   Times.  2015]