This car has been superseded by a newer model, click here to go to the latest Mercedes-Benz SLK AMG (12-16) review.

Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

With an enormous V8 engine under the bonnet, it would be safe to assume that the 1.5-tonne SLK 55 AMG is pretty quick. Maximum power of 360bhp gives it a 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 155mph. The motor is hand-built by a single AMG engineer (you'll find a name engraved on a plaque on top of the engine) and comes with a seven-speed automatic gearbox with three modes.

The standard mode is comfort, which optimises smooth driving and fuel economy. Sport holds on to gears for longer when accelerating, while manual allows the driver to use the gear lever or the steering column-mounted paddles to change gear. The manual mode is rather slow-witted - you need to select an upchange about 1000rpm before the red line to avoid bouncing off the rev limiter.

However, the sport mode is fine for enthusiastic driving.

The SLK 55 AMG provides a thoroughly enjoyable driving experience, whether you're taking it easy or blowing off the cobwebs. Although the ride is firm - perhaps to be expected in a high-performance sportscar - it is never harsh. While occupants will be aware of poor surfaces or riding over drain covers, these bumps and vibrations don't jar through the cabin and despite lacking a permanent roof, the SLK's interior is squeak and rattle-free.

The AMG-tuned chassis provides huge reserves of grip and feels very safe. The SLK 55 AMG responds instantaneously to steering inputs, and corners flat. However, with the big V8 under the bonnet, it doesn't quite feel as agile as the mid-engined Porsche Boxster.