Photos: Behind the Wheel of the New Mercedes SLK Speed

This is what Mercedes’ new SLK Speed (pictured above) looks like when it’s rolling down a winding mountain road.

The SLK is an old-fashioned automobile that many today love because of its simplicity and sportsy looks. When not facing crests and uphill climbs, though, the car might struggle.

To achieve a low-slung ride, Mercedes designers have worked to give the car a flat nose that, along with an air intake at the front, results in a stretched nose to create a longer aero front. The SL’s fascia is a generous and cohesive piece of chrome that forms a wide center sloping through to the bumper (side intakes at the sides also help accentuate this type of shape). The grille is broad, and the headlights are reminiscent of those of the aforementioned, rear-mounted AMG GT that sits to the right of the SLK.

The SLK Speed’s interior is simple and clean, more subdued than past models with soft-touch materials and accent stitching. The bucket seats are made of Ultrasuede, a material that the automotive press also refer to as “one-touch synthetic.” They have a touch-and-feel finish, which makes moving them or shifting through configurations comfortable. The seats come in a mix of leather and carbon fiber, and this style is widely used, but what’s most interesting here is the use of titanium wheels, which leave a more subdued carbon stamp on the tire.

As I put my hand up to the sliding steering wheel, I expected to feel a bit as though I was piloting the Grand Prix. Instead, I got more of a feeling of steadiness. In fact, I nearly kept it hovering over 70 mph as I negotiated winding mountain roads. The engine is peppy enough to keep pace. However, in my two journeys, I did not experience the highway-slower acceleration that I expected from this car.

Inside, the only real gizmo is the digital instrument cluster, a console-mounted display that changes color depending on the vehicle’s settings.

Mercedes’ SLK Speed is a European-market model, so it won’t be out here until next year. However, there are three versions: the basic GLK 3503 available in Europe for approximately €52,900, a saloon-style GLK 4G 350 that will debut on the European market for approximately €58,900 and will come to America for approximately $59,900, and the SLK Speed, the fastest of the bunch, with a starting price of about €72,300.

Photo: Mercedes-Benz

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