2014 Mercedes Benz SLK250… Full-Time or Part-Time Toy?
2014 Mercedes Benz SLK250… Full-Time or Part-Time Toy?
Early last month we headed south to drive a few of their many country roads and enjoy the gorgeous fall scenery. Our test car was a 2014 Mercedes-Benz SLK250, and we want to tell you all about it.
You’ve reached that point in life when you can consider buying a big toy, maybe it’s a two-seater convertible, maybe it’s a Harley Davidson; it could even be a boat. Your work is stable and thankfully so are your finances. Ok, maybe that’s a bit far fetched, but what is true is that most of us find it difficult to afford a fun part-time vehicle, more commonly referred to as the “third car”. Daily life keeps us busy with family, work and a million other things. So why not relax with a little driving therapy, but I’m not talking about your daily commute kind of driving; I’m talking about putting on the Ray Bans, filling up the tank and taking a new route into the unknown. I want to share with you how you can get a piece of the action without breaking the bank.
Let’s start with our car, the Mercedes SLK has been the iconic “pretty convertible” of choice of many people for many years now, only recently facing some competition from slightly bigger and more practical drop-tops from Lexus and Infiniti. Mercedes and BMW had this segment of the market cornered for generations, but I truly feel like in this particular case, options are a good thing.
So let’s find out if this Benz suits your style, here’s what I think is really good as well as not so much.
– First things first, it’s a Mercedes Benz. People will notice you and you will get looks, whether they’re good or bad, you will get some attention.
– Seductive styling. It’s now much more attractive than the previous generation that lacked the iconic flare the SLK is known for. Design Kudos for the muscular hood and the sleek trunk design.
– AMAZING fuel economy. We traveled over 500 miles over 3 days, spent about 70% of our time on a country roads and the rest on the highway and still averaged 28mpg. That’s better than the combined average advertised by Mercedes Benz.
– Hands down the best feature of the SLK is it’s retractable hardtop, no need to worry about reliability or longevity. You have real, solid top that compliments the overall design whether its down or up…and it only takes 18 seconds to convert.
– This Benz really drives great. I’m gonna say what most car enthusiasts would say about the SLK; that it is for senior citizens, and that it will see more days parked at the country club or hair salon than it will ever see thrilling scenic roads. Well…my answer to that is SO WHAT? Do you really think most Ferraris get driven hard, or all Range Rovers get put through mud and sand? The answer is NO.
The fact is that it is a great drivers car if that’s what you want it to be. It’s nimble through the bends and it’s solid on the highway. Push the Sport button and release the angry German hidden inside (not literally, that’d be creepy). It will kick the rear out and gurgle that big AMG brother exhaust.
– It has something called an air-scarf. This genius little feature blows warm air into your neck and shoulders empowering you to retract the top even on chillier days.
What’s not so great?
– It only seats 2, so plan ahead. We met up with a friend that ended up needing a ride, so we busted out some circus moves and drove him home. Don’t ask.
-Limited storage space. We were able to fit our one carry-on size suitcase plus a duffle bag, but any more than that and tough luck. Storage inside the cabin is nearly non-existent as the only form of storage is two cup holders. My wife and I had a total of 2 bottled waters and 2 iPhones… You can imagine the struggle.
– Annoying squeaks. It’s amazing that Mercedes found a way to make the power seats adjust to fit a 6ft tall driver comfortably, but when the seat is all the way back the backrest rubs against the mid-section and produces a ridiculously annoying squeak. What’s even worse than the squeak itself, is that this could easily be fixed by using different materials that don’t clash audibly when rubbed.
– Silly quirks. The “trunk partitioner” is a divider that has to be latched inside the trunk in order for the top to move freely. This divider not only robs you of more cargo room, but our 1,700 mile old test car often failed to recognize that the partitioner was latched and forced me to park the car, get out, wiggle it, get back in and finally operate the top. Very annoying.
So now that you know if this is the car for you or not, let me tell you that it really doesn’t matter. Well, unless you plan on buying one based on my advice. This SLK250 is priced at $48,455 which is very similar to most fun and unpractical roadsters on the market such as the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxter.
If you don’t plan on buying one then you can still enjoy one of those bad boys part time. How, you may ask? Thankfully car rental companies have evolved and offer more than Chevy Impalas now days (refer to article). You can rent this exact same Mercedes through Hertz for less than $100 dollars per weekday in most big metro areas. You can also find a convertible BMW 3-Series for a bit more than that. Enterprise also has a prestige collection that offers anything from a Corvette to a 100k Porsche 911 Cabriolet. Sure it may take you a few minutes to browse a few sites a find a decent rate, but at the end of the day you can rent; maybe not your DREAM car, but a FUN car.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if you shell out a few hundred bucks for a weekend rental, or spend 50 grand buying one, take your spouse; or even your son or daughter on one of the many amazing country roads this country has to offer. Bond with them, take pictures, but most of all; avoid the highway. Because when it comes to roadsters, it’s not about the quantity of people you can carry, but about the quality time you spend with your special “plus one”.