_ _JL _T'~IvrjII~r JTV V ~ *~~~~-- - - - '-- - -
Continued from Page :LOB
SLK. The engine sound of the 2001
model was more of a cool howl com-
pared to the rumble of last year's model.
Pulling onto the street, first gear did-
n't seem too impressive, but I quickly
shut up as I slammed into second gear
and was able to pick up speed. A 0-60
mph time of 6.5 seconds is very
respectable for this V-6 engine. I took it
to about 110 mph, and I just barely
reached fourth gear, out of all the six
gears with a top speed of 140 mph.
One nice feature of the first gear is
that it is electronically governed, so that
you never get past 6000 rpm. Once this
happens, a triangle, with an exclamation
mark in the middle of it, placed in the
middle of the carbon fiber layout of the
tachometer, starts to blink and remind
you to drive carefully. This is part of a
feature called the Electronic Stability
Program (ESP), which comes standard
and can be turned off.
ESP corrects oversteer and understeer
by either decreasing the engine power to
specific wheels, or applying breaks to
individual wheels. Driving straight and
fast for a time, I decided to turn while
still going fast. My goal was to squeal
the tires, but to my amazement, each
time I accelerated into a turn, the wheels
would lose it for a split second, but then
the car would regain quickly. This was
the ESP working with Automatic Slip
Control (ASR). This tr~on control
senses the drive-wheel slip and individ-
ually breaks the slipping tire(s) or cuts
engine power until control is regained.
After all this time of driving, I com-
pletely forgot about the "convertible"
aspect of the car. In the center of the
console, just behind the shift, you will
find the power windows, power side
mirrors and a funny looking red button.
Pulling the button back and holding it
for 25 seconds will drop the hardtop,
and pushing it back will do the opposite.
When the top retracts, it takes about
two-thirds of the trunk space. The hard-
top goes just above the standard roll bars
for added safety incase of a rollover.
For better handling and driver com-
fort, there is a telescoping steering col-
umn that is fitted with a polished wood
trim that also appears on the center con-
sole, doors and shift knob. For added
cabin comfort, climate control is also
standard in the SLKs. Pulling back into
the lot, I parked the car, and got out, but
the console started beeping, reminding
me that I didn't turn my lights off. They
also remind you to release the parking
brake when you start the car.
Unfortunately, most students could
work during their entire undergraduate
career and still not afford the sticker
price of the SLK 320. At a retail price
of $43,900, the SLK 320 fits nicely
along with the Porsche Boxster, Audi
TT, BMW Z3 2.8 and the Lexus SC
READ WEEKEND, ETC.