With 265 kW on tap and a speedometer marked to a menacing 320 km/h, the striking SLK55 AMG tops the ever-popular Mercedes-Benz roadster line-up.With 265 kW on tap and a speedometer marked to a menacing 320 km/h, the striking SLK55 AMG tops the ever-popular Mercedes-Benz roadster line-up. Packed with accessories from the AMG tuning division, this blitzer has racy looks to match its performance.

Riding on AMG sports suspension, the two-seater uses a 5,5-litre normally aspirated V8 engine with peak power of 265 kW at 5 750 r/min and 510 N.m of torque at 4 000 r/min. Mercedes claims the SLK55 will bolt from zero to 100 km/h in 4,9 seconds, to 200 km/h in 17,5 seconds and achieve an (electronically-limited) top speed of 250 km/h.

The eight-cylinder AMG engine has lightweight pistons made from cast aluminium, composite camshafts and a new twin-tract intake system. It is mated with the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel mounted controls and a manual transmission mode. The gearbox's direct downshift function allows the car to change down by as many as four ratios, depending on the situation, while "only opening and closing one valve in each case".

In addition, the transmission adapts itself to the driving style of the owner, and gear changes - either in touchshift mode, or using the steering wheel-mounted controls - are about 35 per cent faster.

The AMG sports suspension and composite brakes give the car its distinctive sports-car feel on the road. AMG struts, gas shock absorbers and anti-roll bars are all included to complement the lower ride height and stiffer suspension on the road or track.

The SLK flagship's aggressive front end-styling clearly resembles that of the Mercedes SLR McLaren supercar. The 55 is characterised by 18-inch light-alloy wheels, AMG rear apron and two sets of dual tailpipes that are said to emit an acoustically-tuned throaty V8 burble. Besides its aesthetic appeal, the boot lid spoiler is claimed to reduce lift by up to 36 per cent.

Inside, the SLK55 is trimmed in nappa leather and fitted with heated AMG sports seats, Thermotronic automatic climate control, multistage driver and passenger head and thorax airbags, bi-xenon headlamps, programmable remote central locking, a memory function for the steering, seat and exterior mirror settings, variable cruise control, tyre pressure monitor, a Harman/Kardon sound system with a six-CD changer and Comand APS with a DVD-based navigation system as standard.