Catch-up with events

SLK 350 after a comprehensive test run to Thetford

A bit of a catch-up post this one. Am sat at home and have just put Jamiroquai's Funk Odyssey on iTunes. Which is sort of fitting as I forgot to catch up with you after I popped out for the afternoon with a good mate on Tuesday and we ended up taking a brand new Mercedes SLK 350 for a test-drive out to Thetford. Now this thing shifts. My mate's got an S2000 which - to be fair - is a maniac revving engine in a full-on Jap sports car. The Merc however was just rudely powerful. So often the complaint about the SLK was that it was an underpowered hairdressers' car. The prerequisite to owning one being an over-styled haircut and mahogany skin with a texture not unlike that of a rhino. This SLK's different. Not quite the AMG that Clarkson tried to outrun the British Army in but an awesome car nonetheless.

It's certainly more capacious than the S2000, I'm 6' 2" and aside from some unruly buffeting at 120 mph I was comfortable. That might have something to do with the 'air scarf' technology though, oh and the fact that I was boiling the marrow in my skeleton with the heated seats on. The 3.5litre gave plenty of people on the A11 something to think about. Coming off roundabouts we reached 60 in about as long as it took me to remove my Oakleys from the glove box, with the Formula-one nose appearing in your rear view mirror at those sort of speeds you'd better be driving something even better than a Boxster 3.2S to even think about competing. Especially as the one we had was equipped with the 7G Tronic gearbox and paddle shifters on the wheel.

What's more, we hadn't even engaged 'sports' on the box. There was more under that gorgeously sloping bonnet. I have to say I wouldn't contemplate the junior models (200 and 280) and there were faults (the stereo display is unreadable in direct light, the wind deflector is rubbish and it's got a ludicrously daft steering rake adjustor ... but park up at watch that folding roof disappear in 22 seconds and you'll forgive this obscenely efficient Teuton the vast majority of its sins. If I had £38k to spend on a car I'd consdider it. But I'd probably end up getting a brand new Elise 111R and use the change on a used Golf for trips to the supermarket. What the Merc lacked - and the Elise has in spades - is a sense of being a driver. The Merc cosets you along at frightening speeds and you can hear the stereo, but you're a pilot, flying by wire and there's just something about that that leaves you a little bit hollow.

If you think this is a rubbish appraisal, What Car? did a good one.

No comments: