The SLK 55 AMG has a rumbling V8 engine.
The SLK 55 AMG has a rumbling V8 engine. Contributed

OMG, AMG is a head turner

ALL those modern-day folk sprouting "OMG" have obviously never sampled the best metal wearing a three-pointed star.

Those lucky enough to get behind the wheel of one of these beasts would recount "AMG" when faced with jaw-dropping situations.

These cars are the best of Benz. Named after two engineers, Aufrecht and Melcher, as well as a German town called Grossaspach, AMG has become synonymous with performance.

One engineer and one car. That's the philosophy from AMG where the same individual builds the lot. And my gratitude goes to Raphael Bohmler. He was the engineer who pieced together our SLK55 AMG test car.

It's something special.

This latest version of the SLK 55 has more power, more torque, is more efficient and it's cheaper than its predecessor. The asking price is now $155,000 - a saving of $24,360 over the last derivative.

Since receiving a makeover last year the SLK looks much tougher, and with a boost in the performance stakes, the convertible once confined to hairdressers suddenly has a queue of masculine admirers.

Comfort

With a thumping bent eight up front, suspension set-up tuned for performance and a small cabin, outsiders may question the cabin ambience. Yet it's a space that is remarkably plush and welcoming. Jet turbine-like vents punctuate the dash and there are a host of quality finishes across all surfaces.

Electronic seat adjustment in just about all directions helps you find a comfy position. The pews also have warmers, and you can also press a button for warm air to be blown on to your neck to combat cooler conditions when the roof is down.

Most of the various buttons and operations are simple to navigate, although the central dial that controls the audio, sat nav and stereo can take some time to master.

Roof up or down the conditions are excellent for passengers, although there is some tyre rumble even with the lid on.

On the road

From the blip of the accelerator at start-up, this is an engaging experience. With a 0-100kmh sprint time under five seconds the sleek little muscle machine is nothing short of outstanding. Select sport mode, jump on the right pedal and it's one wild ride.

Take over the shifts and use the paddles mounted to the steering wheel and the SLK crackles and barks with a wonderful soundtrack. Brilliant feedback from the steering, which is hydraulic and not electric, brute strength from the 5.5-litre V8 and a taut chassis meld for an outstanding result.

Yet it's not all about sporting prowess. There is also an economical side to the little beast, which is one of the most efficient V8s on the market.

Four cylinders shut down when you are cruising in "comfort" mode and the only indication is a light on the dash. The change between four and eight cylinders can be made in milliseconds. There is also a stop-start function which shuts the engine off when stationary and it is probably the fastest system we have sampled.

What do you get?

Considering this is the AMG derivative, you pretty much get everything thrown in. As you would expect there is dual-zone air-conditioning, leather trim, figure-hugging heated sports seats, cool steering wheel that combines leather and suede, Airscarf system, which blows warm air on your neck, along with five-star safety.

The optional panoramic sunroof ($1750) on our test machine made for a slick addition, while many parting with the $155K will probably opt for the $8825 handling package that includes composite front brakes, performance suspension and a rear-axle differential lock.

VITAL STATISTICS

Model: Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG.

Details: Two-door rear-wheel drive convertible compact roadster.

Engine: 5.5-litre V8 generating maximum power of 310kW at 68000rpm and peak torque of 540Nm @ 4500rpm.

Consumption: 8.5

Bottom line: $155,000, as tested with panoramic sunroof ($1750).



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