Tuesday 20 September 2011

Test Drive: 2007 SLK 55 AMG

V8 neatly packed!


Forget the hair dresser’s car of old, this is in your face AMG combination of aggressive appearance with elegant styling. It has two things really adorable for this size of car; a fat ass & a V8 lump which oodles personality in the front, these give a tingle up your spine every time you look at it or turn the ignition key. Don’t get this wrong, the whole package looks gorgeous with proportions spot on, front end is mean, showing yes, that it means business as it even has gills & claws spread over the bonnet as well as the bumper.

Press sport mode in the console & the V8 opens up a ferocious appetite to chew up the road in front of it, accompanied by an instrumental growl; louder & louder CIMG6706as the revs climb into the red zone. Then, the 7 speed G-tronic gearbox smacks in the next gear & the orchestra starts all over. At traffic lights, sport mode feels like it just wants to pounce forward & go through anything in its way. Gear selection may be mastered by the buttons on the rear of the steering for personal satisfaction, but when in a hurry, the gearbox handles superbly with smooth changes. For some reason, playing with the switches doesn’t kind of give the real enjoyment the V8 wants to offer, there is a certain delay that is non existent when in Sport Auto mode. If the C button is selected, everything is tamed down to a relaxed atmosphere, that is, until a sharp probe of the go-pedal, then, a flashing traction control light goes bezerk.


Brake disks are larger than on any other SLK & are cross drilled all round with massive AMG callipers, these help a commanding modulation with the big pedal, much needed with this power. Never over powering but a sense of control at any speed. Also, standard equipment includes brake assist.

CIMG6700Flexible pockets in the doors seem to be more at home in a Beetle than in an AMG package as are the door release levers, apart from these, the cabin is well focused to the driver & uniquely styled in Mercedes fashion & quality. The Centre console is well laid out & includes a very user friendly climate control system together with easy-to-reach buttons. Seats, a little on the hard side. Apart from that, everything is electric from the seats to the steering adjustment, virtually impossible not to get the right position for a comfortable fit.

Vario Roof does twitch a little more than is acceptable but it must be said that it is such a graceful piece of engineering: going from coupe to convertible just about squeezes into 22 seconds to fully lower or raise, that includes the windows. The boot is obviously compromised with all that metal, glass & mechanism stored there with the top down, however, a convertible hardtop design, with its coupe-like profile and superior wind and weather protection, provides significant advantages in the top-up position.

CIMG6713aThe ride is very composed with no abrupt bumping up & down on uneven surfaces but about the right amount of stiffness that is accepted on a spirited drive; there is no sacrifice & so a couple of hours cruising the continent would be a pleasure. With a symphony coming from the front, provided by a certain German lad who put all the instruments together in the form of a 5.5 litres AMG V8, the stereo can be shutdown for the entire trip. Although very vocal in express mode, traveling at the speed limit can also be a relaxing affair as the soft-touch material covering most of the interior seems to soak up any unwanted noise.

If cruising is not your style, you can tear away at the lights like a bat out of hell by means of 360BHP available, whizzing by the 60 mph mark in 4.9 seconds. This propulsion CIMG6730ais provided by 376lbs/ft of torque for all that V8 goodness as the engine roars angrily while the wheels fight for traction. Coming up to the bends is a balancing act, rear wheels struggling harshly to bite into whatever tarmac is left on the road, steering trying to keep up with necessary adjustments as the rev counter keeps waving at you; all tremendous fun. The Vario Roof weight penalty only seems to enhance the enjoyment keeping a good balance in the mix. CO2 at 288 g/km is unforgiving though & places it in the highest tax band but is expected with such a power hungry machine.


The SLK has to compete with a very powerful bunch to the likes of BMW Z4, Nissan 370Z and Porsche Boxster. Thanks to its classy cabin, distinctive looks and solid performance credentials, the SLK more than holds its own in this segment. For a convertible that sacrifices little in performance and excels at luxury and prestige, the Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG can be the one to choose.

Friday 9 September 2011

Aftermarket up to the minute Info!


is affected by copper in the aftermarket world. Unfortunately as the price keeps reaching new altitudes, in turn, this keeps increasing the retail prices for our beloved car accessories.

First up & mostly penalised is copper main power cable. Generally used to supply positive & negative to all sorts of colourful toys in our cars today. The more needed, means the more we are separated from the precious paper we call money. Result; more high powered systems from amplifiers to winches have become tremendously hit by the increase in price.

There is a solution for this painful impact; CCA! So everyone can understand; Copper Coated Aluminium. Without going into detail resembling a NASA afternoon tea break; high grade wire cable is oxygen free copper. With good quality CCA, the majority of the strands compiled to make a power cable are aluminium & the remainder copper at a ratio of around 70% aluminium to 30% copper. Is this better; nope! But, it is definitely a cheaper relief that can do nearly exactly the same job except for extreme necessities. For all of us in the practical world of cash versus value; this does bring a smile to our face when the time comes to pay, because this brings the price down by nearly 50%!!

Next up is one of the most needed tools for the car enthusiast because as is commonly known, most fanatics use their car less rather than more! Why? Because their cars are normally tucked away in a garage just sitting pretty. Curious? A car battery conditioner. This really should be in use for all the time the car is parked in it’s tomb. Occasional drives, oh & the pathetic distances of these so called “cruises”, do no help to the battery condition whatsoever.

This brings us back to the battery conditioner which is imperative for the health of our car’s electrical system. The heart of that electrical energy is the storage system known as the Battery. It is vital we keep the battery fully topped for it to give us that cranking power when needed. When left hibernating for extended periods, the battery loses voltage & although it has enormous cranking capacity, it will burst the car into life but, every time it does so after being dormant, it does permanent damage to its storage capacity. Slowly killing the battery, so to speak! A conditioner will keep the battery in a healthy fully charged state by trickle charging; it also recognises it is not needed & simply shuts down charging until needed again.

HID – High Intensity Discharge

CIMG6250 (1024x768)I did mention in my last article LED lighting, which may compliment your ride. Cool, funky, attractive or even spooky are just few descriptions for this method of illumination. But, the priority is to be seen! Hence, the definition of Daytime Running Lights (DRL) With safety in the minds of those boffins who created DRLs, these have now become compulsory on new cars in Europe. HID lighting on the other hand also extends the safety of your headlamp lighting; by assisting further vision, much further.

The massive leap from Halogen yellow fever to the pure white spread out in front of your car, is exactly like watching your favourite cartoon the next morning, after a dark horror movie the previous evening. It’s just like having your own personal segment of daylight right in front of your car in the middle of the night! Such is the beauty of HID headlamp lighting. Road signs light up as if painted with fluorescent & paint on tarmac becomes clearer to navigate. A definite improvement. Your companion will ask why you’re taking the long route home after a night on the town!

Most manufacturers may provide daylight from the front headlamps for a smallCIMG6253 (1024x768) fortune. But as a HID aftermarket option, this is much, much cheaper. In most cases, they are not even detected that they have been installed, giving the impression they are OEM.

Price wise, this will bring you up to speed; OEM HID lighting will easily set you back close to a tear jerking € 1000. Aftermarket HIDs start from € 150.00 fitted!

The most important factor, they must be properly installed. Experience installation is key here! Poorly aligned headlamps & unprotected bulbs are a huge No No for the men in blue. For these reasons, VRT stations will gladly supply an immediate failure on normal halogen lamps let alone HIDs. These should be to the accordance of the manufacturers specifications to begin with.

The majority of headlamps have a bulb cover in some form or other; this is very important. As the HID lamp is bare, it cannot be exposed as the light produced will blind anything in its path & be totally unsafe. Keep this in mind.

Projector lights, the ones with a lens in the headlamp, are the best candidates. They are in front of the bulb & so the bulb cannot be seen. With the aid of this lens, they manage to throw a perfect beam ahead plus a perfect cut off of light so not to distract oncoming traffic. Many cars are equipped with such, from Fiat Puntos to Porsche Boxsters.

CIMG6255 (1024x768)Scrambling through internet web sites is definitely not the best place to source HIDs. If you are on a quest; then good luck! Promises are made that they will work but the reality is, there is no 100% guarantee. Not because of any fault. It is just the necessity to apply the correct HID kit, being that not all cars have the same electronic brains. A well equipped professional installer will have variations of HID kits & even additional electronics to support the install. Each car will be different & this is the only real way that you will get smooth & reliable equipment fitted to light your way forward.