Does your car have a summer/winter switch?
If it does switch it to summer for first gear starts and winter for second gear starts. I don't know if your model has this switch.
Anyhow, Your car should have first gear start already.
Your car is fine. Your year has second gear start unless you floor it off the line or bring the gear selector all the way back before take off.
You engine is not working harder than the Ford it is just geared differently.
2002 SLK 32 AMG