Windows Makes A Comeback!

So, finally, Windows7 has come out. It’s been a long, arduous process but well worth the wait.

I bought two prerelease copies, the price was too good to pass up – $50 a piece – one for me and one for the wife. I’ve ported all my stuff over to the newer computer and am using it to write this post. I really dig Windows7 and can’t wait to get more familiar with it and the many new features it promises.

The install process went really smoothly and I had no problems doing a “clean” install with the upgrade discs I bought. The real issues started with the second computer…I had to switch the CD and DVD drives around and have had a couple problems – one with the computer seemingly frozen while copying data form the archive and another when it rebooted and didn’t find one of the hard drives, which caused it to error out…at least no BSOD’s yet!!

Now we have two fully functional, works better than ever PC’s in the house. Next step it to show the wife some of the new features that should make her world a little easier place to live.

I’ll keep you updated as living with Windows7 becomes more normalized.

And now, today’s Retro Review:

2002 Mercedes-Benz SLK

Yes, I know a little German

by James E. Bryson

I always like going home to Detroit. I get to see my favorite friends, close family and other special people in my life.

Back in early May, I was chatting with my friend Steve and told him I’d be coming for a visit before Memorial Day and he said, “Great, I should have THE car by then!”

Let me give you a little background. Steve, who is well over 6-feet tall, has been looking for an exciting, well-handling car for over a year with little consideration to budget. He had ordered a Honda S2000 and decided that it was too small. He then looked at the BMW Z3 (too small again) the Porsche Boxster (you guessed right if you said it was too small), and the Mercedes-Benz SLK.

As a former automotive journalist-turned-regular-laborer, I though it would be interesting to get an owner’s side of things. So I asked him to send a message with some of his thoughts and they will be peppered throughout this review.

“I’ve always wanted to own a convertible,” he said is his message. “I’ve planned and saved for it for years. I didn’t plan on owning an Mercedes-Benz, it just worked out that way.”

After a lot of time hemming and hawing over this monumental decision, Steve took and chance and settled for what he thought was the best car for him.

“I finally settled on the Mercedes-Benz SLK320, V6 power, touchshift semi-manual transmission and just enough room for my big ass,” Steve said. “As a journalist I absolutely loved this car calling it the ‘perfect car for a weekend getaway.’ Today, my opinion remains the same but the car has been improved.”

“My time as a journalist taught me that happiness was a very important factor in my purchase. I looked at everything on the market eliminating them all for one reason or another,” Steve said in an e-mail afterward.

Fortunately for you and me, Steve is the generous type and we went out on a clear, warm Friday afternoon for a little bit of what we in the industry call “ride & drive”.

The SLK is quite the comfortable car. With the top down and the wind in our hair, we had a chance to really get a look at the interior: Nice leather seats and leather wrapped steering wheel and shift lever. The seats were more of a European-style (read: firm) with myriad adjustments and the recently restyled dash is now more user friendly and looks better than on previous models.

But the best part of the SLK’s design has to be the ever-so-clever retractable hardtop, which balances coupe-like silence, security and rigidity with open-aired driving in half-a-minute.

Though the two-tone interior treatment has been kept, it is more toned down than previous models and is actually quite nice.

The center stack of controls, HVAC and radio dominate, has been upgraded to allow for more ease of use and looks much better than previous SLKs. We applaud MB for modernizing their interiors over the last few years.

Power from the normally aspirated V6 comes on soon and strong for this heavy little car. With 215 horsepower on tap, we had some fun trying to stay out of trouble with the local law enforcement agencies.

Yours truly was quite impressed with the neutral handling of the V6 SLK. We were able to take tight corners with ease and just a hint of understeer towards the tire’s adhesion limits.

The suspension, while on the sporty side, didn’t treat us as harshly as we would have thought on Michigan’s weather-beaten roads.

“It doesn’t bottom out on every pothole like it would if I got the sport suspension,” Steve said at a local eatery before our drive.

Dislikes for the car were few, to say the least, but they were fairly major to the owner.

“It does have flaws,” Steve said. “Right knee room could be more plentiful; my knee is sandwiched tightly between the steering wheel and center console tunnel. The steering wheel only telescopes, no tilt! And the trunk is too small limiting luggage to a couple of small bags at best.”

Our only other real complaint was the lack of any lumbar support in the seats.

“The seats themselves are stiff, but are slowly breaking in,” Steve mused. “You sit very low in the SLK which means elbows on the windowsill is not comfortable.”

The sticker price for our tester was $48,345.00, which included a base price of $44,800.00; the automatic transmission with/touch shift ($1300); K4 Value Added Package which included xenon headlamps, headlamp washers and heated seats ($1580); and destination charges ($665). The only other option, which was dealer installed to boot, was a trunk-mounted CD changer (no in-dash unit is available) that cost more trunk space but was a worthwhile entertainment-oriented investment.

With these specific options and no sport package, which Steve opted not to get because he thought it diminished the ride, the SLK320 turns out to be a fine grand touring car for those weekend getaways and for cruising main street on a warm summer night.

The Car of the Day is:

The Volvo 3CC concept from the 2005 North American International Auto Show.

2005 NAIAS-059 

If you look closely, you can see the resemblance to the C30 coupe that went on sale a couple years ago. Obviously, Volvo didn’t keep all the styling of this show car, but it’s easy to see the development.

2005 NAIAS-057

Too bad they put normal doors on the C30!

2005 NAIAS-056

Again, thanks for stopping by!!!