Run in complete - thoughts so far - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

AMGs For those high performance Mercedes-Benz R170-SLK 32/R171-SLK 55/R172-SLK 55 cars tuned by AMG -

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#1 Old 06-10-2013
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Run in complete - thoughts so far

I've just finished the running in period - 1,000 miles of keeping the RPMs sub 4,500, and thought it would be useful to share my thoughts on the car.

Things that impress:

The big one is the engine - incredible torque for an NA motor makes it a very easy car to drive. Huge flexibility in the gears makes it enjoyable on long drives over twisty roads. It's a pretty incredible piece of engineering they've pulled off with this - huge torque, economy with the cyclinder deactivation and start/stop - and the engine is relatively light too. For comparison, the 5.5 litre M152 engine in the SLK weighs 187kg dry vs 227kg for the 4.2 V8 litre in the R8. As an added bonus the noise coming out of the exhaust as the flaps open is glorious. It's my favourite soundtrack to any car I've owned.

The roof - thought I had a bit of "rose tinted spectacles" going on with how fondly I remember my original SLK, but driving top down has brought it all back and confirmed it is every bit as much fun as I recall. The speed to lower/raise, and the engineering that achieves it, still impresses and I still love the combination of a hard top when parked and no-top on the move. Great for changeable weather and security - and the aesthetic is better than any rag top can ever be top-up imo. It's the only type of convertible I could live with. i also like the panoramic roof - both for the extra light in the cabin and also for the contrast against the silver paint.

The exhaust flaps have proved to be a positive thing (although I think I'd still be tempted to try an override if a simple hack surfaces). They start to open at 2k rpm, which means the driver gets the option to use the gearing to determine the noise whilst still having the option of relatively quiet cruising (or where drawing attention isn't a good thing). That said, once the flaps are open it sounds glorious - especially on a full throttle kickdown. Sounds like it wants to bite a chunk out of whatever car it's overtaking.

The transmission - it's very smooth at slow speeds, I prefer it to the s-tronic dual clutch in the Q5, and even though it's a torque converter automatic, it is still very quick to change cogs on the move and will happily drop down a couple of cogs in sport auto mode (S) in response to throttle pedal prodding. The combination of this transmission and the big torquey engine give it a grand tourer feel, with the added practical benefit of the car being relatively small.

Range limiting the maximum gear - the transmission easily allows a maximum gear to be set and then won't change up beyond the set gear. Stops the car hunting for higher gears, which would mean lower RPMs - good for gradients, preparing to overtake or if you just want to be driving above the 2k rpm first exhaust flap opening point for a bit more aural theatre. Very easy to set: just pull the paddles in either of the auto modes and it will change up or down and limit it to that gear - for example, if the car is in 5th gear and I pull the left (downshift) paddle, it will change down to 4th and set the maximum gear to 4th. To cancel the limit, just have to hold the up paddle for a second or so until it clears.

The brake hold function - a harder push on the brake pedal holds the car in the same way the electronic hand-brake does. Both can then be released by applying throttle. It also has a hill hold facility where it will try and stop the car rolling backward for a few seconds without "hold" having been engaged.

The coat hooks on the back of the seats are really useful - there's just enough space to slip a jacket back there.

The cargo net on the rear bulkhead behind the passenger seat was a welcome surprise

Linguatronic speech recognition - provides a surprising level of control over the comand system - very convenient to just press a button and then tell it which album to play by name.

The metal shift paddles - nice feel and size to these. A real treat after having small plastic paddles in my past few cars. It helps that I'm an advocate for paddles attached to the wheel rather than to the steering column.

Economy - even when driving in S mode with a bent for engine note (higher rpm) I'm seeing pretty good mpg for an engine like this - 24 UK mpg ( 20 US ) on a 7 hour run across mixed fast and twisty roads with lots of pockets of traffic. The option to go C (which will hunt to higher gears all the time) and ECO which does the 4 cylinder/start stop thing will obviously improve things further if I can bring myself to use it.

Comfort - did the 7 hour drive with no discomfort issues other than mild pins and needles caused by the footrest angle. the seats are comfy and supportive.

Airscarf - even on cold days, the combination of airscarf, seat heaters and the blowers make it very comfortable to drive top-down.

Rear view mirror shape - designed to match the shape of the space between the headrests/roll hoops - so there's virtually no interior visible when the top is down.

Reversible trunk floor - having the option to have the panel recessed not only gives a bit more space but keeps things in place a bit better.

The boot space itself is very impressive both top up and top down for a car of this type imo.

Remote roof operation - I understand that the smarttop does this better, but it is useful to be able to open/close the roof via the remote even if I have to be standing pretty much next to the drivers door for the IR to work.

Things that detract:

Paddle shifting in manual mode isn't very satisfactory - the reaction is pretty slow, removing the "trigger" feel of sequential manuals or dual clutch setups. In the end it feels like I'm asking the transmission to do something, and then waiting for the car to agree rather than feeling like I'm the one controlling the change itself. I feel like I get more control in sport auto mode and using my right foot to influence the changes. This wasn't a surprise - I don't think this is a car designed around manual mode, I think manual mode is a bonus rather than auto mode being a bonus in sequential manual cars. At least the engine torque makes this less of an issue.

The footrest angle seems severe - this pretty much instantly induces mild pins and needles in my left foot. I'm 6' 2" and like to sit relatively close to the wheel, so this probably aggravates it

Wish there was a way to show the current gear in every mode of the driver display and not just amg - as in the UK there's no way to see both current gear and outside air temp at the same time which is nuts given how important both are to knowing how the car is going to respond. (the uk can't set outside air temp to replace the kph speed display as other countries can). In an ideal world I would like to see current gear, outside air temperature, mpg, oil temp, current radio station/music track, and range

The exhaust note in 4 cylinder mode at low constant rpm isn't all that pleasant - it's more "boomy" than in 8 cylinder mode.

Door pockets are tiny

Other:

Had some issues with the music register (10gb space on hard drive for owners music) - but this seems to have been due to my using a Mac and it creating hidden files on the USB stick I was copying from. I originally had heaps of files starting ".-" which it couldn't play and seemed to screw up the initial file scanning with "no playable files" coming up. I downloaded a free App called Hidden Cleaner and that has solved it. Now the music register works as it should, with cover-art and speech access to the albums. I like the way the music search feature also integrates the music register with any files on the usb stick.

Start/stop - not that I particularly like this on other cars I've driven, but even when in eco mode I've never seen this show as anything other than inactive. Not sure which of the criteria it's failing to meet.

I found it funny how they supply 2 keys for the car but only one replacement AMG key-back - in a big tin!

The only thing I'd change if I was ordering the car again would be to add the solar orange ambient lighting.

It's a pity MB don't offer alcantara as an option for the interior - I'd have specced that if it were available.

DAB radio reception seems pretty poor. I've had other cars with DAB and they seemed more stable despite the relatively weak signal around these parts.

- - - - -

When I ordered the car, I did have the lingering feeling at the back of my mind that I'd be making quite a few compromises to get the "must haves" - but that hasn't really been the case. In the real world of everyday driving, this is a brilliant package. I have no doubt that this is the best car I could have chosen for my own particular basket of "wants".

Regardless of engine, model or year, the slk offers such a lot in terms of quality and experience. A lot of the journalist criticism seems to be borne out of them not getting what the owners actually want from the car.

I should also tip my hat to slkworld.com, as this forum is one of the best car forums I've ever visited, and it really enhances the ownership experience. There is a strong feeling of community and wanting to share in the enjoyment of the cars, rather than it descending into the peeing contests that blight so many others out there. It gives me a warm glow every time I see another SLK on the road. Wish more slk drivers would wave back though!

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#2 Old 06-10-2013
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well said...I agree, though I gotta admit I dont use the shift paddles. in part b/c as u said the reaction is slow, and I think its a bit silly in an automatic-if I wanted to "row my own" I'd get a manual! Overall best car I've owned, and the noise at speed IS cool!!


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#3 Old 06-10-2013
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Yeah, I'm just using them for the range limiting in sport auto even though I drove my last 4 performance cars exclusively with the paddles in manual mode.

I will try manual again on a favourite mega-twisty bit of road that I love and see how it goes.

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#4 Old 06-10-2013
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That was a good review I found that interesting .
Its always good to hear actual owner drivers give there thoughts , rather than so called expert journalists etc..


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#5 Old 06-10-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randombloke View Post
I've just finished the running in period - 1,000 miles of keeping the RPMs sub 4,500, and thought it would be useful to share my thoughts on the car.
Didn't happen. Not humanly possible. Now let's have the truth. How often were you at redline?
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#6 Old 06-11-2013
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Paul – very nice review.

I tend to keep my SLK 55 in sport mode and use the paddle shifters only when I want to show off the exhaust note by keeping the car in gear to rev higher. For real performance driving I find the transmission in Sport mode to do a very good job of picking the correct gear. I also like the down shifting of the transmission during deceleration.

Bob

I'm older so I drive fast as I have less time left to waste.
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#7 Old 06-11-2013
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Thanks for the kind words everyone.

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Originally Posted by CT_SLK View Post
Didn't happen. Not humanly possible. Now let's have the truth. How often were you at redline?
you're right that I wasn't able to keep it under 4,500 for the whole 1,000 miles - but I was pretty good. It was only when I got caught out with how fast the thing revs on an overtake that I had to scale it back (I wasn't using kick-down).

It was usually the engine/exhaust noise that got me to back off as it's very clear when those revs are rising!. All in all, I'm happy with the run in - it was getting painful towards the end though, so I welcomed a 300 mile trip to tip it over the edge part way in the journey, giving me 100 miles or so of post-runin driving.

Quote:
Originally Posted by PitchRate
I tend to keep my SLK 55 in sport mode and use the paddle shifters only when I want to show off the exhaust note by keeping the car in gear to rev higher. For real performance driving I find the transmission in Sport mode to do a very good job of picking the correct gear. I also like the down shifting of the transmission during deceleration.
Hi Bob, I was behind a CL 55 for a good few miles in pretty heavy, but fast flowing traffic. I'm not sure if that was the NA 55 or the supercharged version, but that sounded amazing even at relatively low revs. I was gutted when it turned off.

I think I'll end up driving in sport mode too - it suits how I want to drive the car.

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#8 Old 06-11-2013
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I've been fighting the temptation to go above 4,500 rpm myself! My wife has been driving the AMG back and forth to work which adds 70 miles/day! So I'll reach the 1,000 mile mark soon!! Wish me luck!!
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#9 Old 06-11-2013
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I feel your pain
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#10 Old 06-11-2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randombloke View Post
Hi Bob, I was behind a CL 55 for a good few miles in pretty heavy, but fast flowing traffic. I'm not sure if that was the NA 55 or the supercharged version, but that sounded amazing even at relatively low revs. I was gutted when it turned off.
A couple weeks back on the freeway I scooted by a CLS65. As soon as I was ahead of him, the CLS driver immediately revved up and quickly ran past me. What a glorious sound from that turbo-v8.... I tried to keep up but after like 5 miles I slowed down and just hung back watching him race on through traffic. Soon the driver noticed I had slowed down and then he slowed enough for me to catch up to him, turned around and gave me the thumbs up and I responded with a thumbs up as well... Looked like he was trying to let me know I was no match for his 65 engine.... hehehehe.... If I was in the mood, I could have continued the mini-race but felt indeed my 55 will not keep up... But again, that 65 when revved up sounds like heavenly music to my ears.... If I could afford one I'd switch in a huff...
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#11 Old 07-24-2013
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Thought I'd add a little follow up now that I'm closer to 2,500 miles.

Really enjoying driving the car. I've found that even though the paddles aren't as instant as in previous cars that had automated/sequential manual transmissions, I've gravitated back towards that as my preferred way of driving the car. In the end I found the constant hunting to different gears in sport mode a little too frequent and distracting - especially if I wanted to keep the car in a higher gear when accelerating. It is so eager to change down that it seems I only have to *think* about accelerating and we're down a couple of cogs, then back up again a couple of seconds later as though it's apologising for jumping the gun.

I also like to have a bit more control over the goal of the drive - I can choose to go higher manually for better economy and/or where a smoother dive is preferable (think nervous passenger), or stay low to be in the peak power band and for a bit more aural excitement.

Driving in manual mode has the added advantage that I can see which gear I'm in regardless of which onboard computer screen is displayed - so rather than having to show the AMG screen, I can have it showing the metrics since start, or outside air temperature which will be more useful when the bad weather lands again.

Very happy with the smarttop installation - love the one-touch roof open/close, and using the remote is so much better than using the MB by-the-drivers-door paid option. There is one thing I am trying to overcome - although that's a personal failing rather than smarttop. Before fitting it I would often press lock on the remote more than once "just to be sure" - obviously multiple presses are now parsed by the smarttop and can result in the windows merrily roll down or the roof opening - not ideal! To combat this, I've set it to chirp the horn on locking. Not sure if I'll like this to live with long-term - I can certainly think of instances when having the car draw attention to itself with a horn chirp might not be the smartest thing to be doing, so we'll see.

Eco stop/start - I've still never seen this show anything other than "inactive". I've read the list of requirements in the manual, but really can't see why it's not kicking in when I'm driving in eco mode. I had put it down to my driving the car almost exclusively lid down, so the aircon is working hard - but even when I've had the lid up it has still not shown its face.

I had the engine oil changed just after the run-in period to get the new-engine metal fragments out of the system after reading this being advised by engine builders on the amg private lounge. Not sure if it really makes any difference, but I'm glad I did it as I am thinking more and more about this car being a keeper.

Still trying to figure out the best option for the HK Logic 7: 3D sound or not. At the moment I've got it disabled so that it (ironically) throws a bit more sound to the rear speakers.

I am surprised there don't appear to be any aftermarket options to alter the way the exhaust flaps work (other than changing the exhaust obviously) - hopefully it's just a matter of time and sales numbers to make this a worthwhile project for someone to tackle.
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#12 Old 07-24-2013
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Originally Posted by randombloke View Post
I've found that even though the paddles aren't as instant as in previous cars that had automated/sequential manual transmissions, I've gravitated back towards that as my preferred way of driving the car.
Thanks for the great write ups bloke! Very helpful as I'm making my decision ... I'm interested to hear more about your manual mode experience ... I've got an m3 with m-dct and manual is the only way I've ever driven it ... The shifts are instant and the dct does things that can't be done with an mt so I love it.

Prior to that I had an audi S4 with tiptronic and i never used manual as the shifts ere so delayed and unappealing it seemed pointless.

The many reports of the SLK slow shifts have me hesitating as I love manual mode ... Anything more about your experience you'd add?
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#13 Old 07-25-2013
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"Before fitting it I would often press lock on the remote more than once "just to be sure"

If you set the side mirrors to automatically close upon locking, you would always have a visual cue that the car is locked.


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#14 Old 07-25-2013
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Quote:
The many reports of the SLK slow shifts have me hesitating as I love manual mode ... Anything more about your experience you'd add?
They are going to feel super-slow at first to you - there's simply no getting away from that. But it's really a question of which is your best option for *this* car rather than trying to make comparisons with previous ones. From that frame of reference, your choices are:

controlled efficiency mode - the box hunts to 7th at every available opportunity and is pretty much always in a gear higher than you'd ideally want for sporty driving, so unless you are happy to kick down, it feels like you're adding coal to a steam engine building up the power. On the plus side, this is the mode you can enable "eco" for and have it do the cylinder deactivation so that it pushes up mpg and stop/start (if you can get that to work the way you drive - unlike me!)

sport mode - as mentioned earlier in the thread, this mode is ultra-eager to change down which can get a bit of a pain sometimes for me. On the plus side, if you're attacking a really tight, twisty bit of road, you can get the changes done quicker in this mode rather than using the paddles as it seems to respond quicker to the right foot than it does the paddles.

in both the above modes you can range limit the upper gear using the paddles - so you could range limit to 4th for example, so the transmission can change down below that, but not above it.

you don't get to see which gear the car is actually in with those modes unless you have the AMG display active in the onboard computer display.

finally there's manual mode. in the great scheme of things it's not really that slow, it's just slow compared to automated manuals/dsg type boxes and takes a bit of getting used to. I read before where someone said you just need to predict when you want to shift a bit more - and they were right. Just anticipate slightly ahead compared to the instant mechanical trigger feel you get in the dsg. There's no kick down in manual and it will not shift up at redline, it will shift down for you though if the revs get too low which can make a life a little bit easier in slower driving.

in the end, I'm glad that manual mode sits well with me now as it does give far more control over the way the car drives and its character.

Bear in mind that this car has heaps more torque than the e9x M3s at 540nm vs 400nm. In fact, the 55 is above the m3's peak 400nm output from at least 1,500rpm right through to redline. Combine that with the 55's higher hp figure between 4,000 and its (much lower) 7,200 redline and you get a car that drives very differently to the m3.

I do prefer the feel of a torque converter auto at slower speeds and in automatic mode - I pretty much never used automatic in the other performance cars I've had, just manual via paddles.

I guess the point is that in the end the transmission felt like it suited the car once I shook off the baggage I came to it with from previous cars.

Quote:
If you set the side mirrors to automatically close upon locking, you would always have a visual cue that the car is locked.
true - but for some, probably irrational reason, I don't like folded mirrors on a parked car. If I was looking for a visual clue, I could look for the indicators blinking on lock too - although that isn't always easy in really bright sunlight.

I'm hoping I can live with the chirp

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