Mercedes-Benz first launched its compact SLK roadster in 1996, in an effort to give buyers a more affordable alternative to the more luxurious (and better equipped) Mercedes-Benz SL Class. The car was also supposed to combat sales lost to the Porsche Boxster and the BMW Z3, even though both were more narrowly focused than the jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none SLK.
Through two generations of SLK models, our biggest complaint was that the car lacked focus; in trying to appeal to as many buyers as possible, Mercedes-Benz managed to build a car without an audience. All that changed when Mercedes-Benz introduced the third-generation SLK for the 2012 model year, and for 2013 the power-retractable hardtop roadster remains one of our favorite personal luxury cars. Sure, the Porsche Boxster is more nimble and the BMW Z4 is a better grand tourer, but the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLK carries itself with a certain grace (and increased performance) that earlier versions simply lacked.