It’s as smooth as SLK
The latest Mercedes sports car is out to impress, writes Neil Dowling
ARACE-face look and a hot bi-turbo AMG version are key ingredients of Mercedes’ third-generation SLK range. The more affordable sports models from Mercedes now copy the SLS Gullwing face to take on BMW and Porsche in Australia by June.
Not only does the Mercedes-Benz SLK — a junior member in price only in the SL line — have an aggressive look, it also gets a new attitude.
Mercedes says petrol engines form the initial line-up, with diesel under consideration and — the good news— an AMG version that has been confirmed for domestic release.
Spokesman David McCarthy says the range starts with two 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbos and a 3.5-litre petrol V6.
Pricing of the SLK range is pending but McCarthy says it will be ‘‘very competitive’’ with the focus on features and fittings rather than price.
‘‘The new grille with the inset three-pointed star is reserved for all our sports-oriented models, including the CLS,’’ he says.
‘‘But it won’t, for example, flow into the S-Class, where people prefer the status of the more upright grille.’’
While the face is new, the stylish profile remains.
The third-generation SLK retains the familiar long bonnet and brief tail, placing the engine just behind the front axle line and the two occupants behind the centre of the wheelbase.
The simplicity of the shape has been interrupted with vents in the aluminium front flanks. Mercedes says these are reminiscent of its postwar roadsters, but the model also accepts the 21st century with LED headlights and tail lights.
It also keeps the folding metal hard-top roof with an optional light-sensitive, Magic Sky Control translucent-opaque glass roof panel.
The SLK also has the optional Airscarf, which
The SLK also has the optional Airscarf, which blows warm air through seat head vents on to occupants’ necks
blows warm air through seat head vents on to occupants’ necks, and the Airguide, which sits above the windscreen top bar and diverts wind away from the cabin.
Mercedes has promised to improve the quality of its vehicles — it still has nightmares about the 1990s.
The focus in this range is on impressive cabin design and construction.
All engines have direct petrol injection and stop-start technology.
Mercedes say the combination can reduce fuel consumption by up to 25 per cent.
The diesel is an easy pick, likely the 2.2-litre turbo-diesel from the C and E-Class, but the AMG unit may be an all-new engine.
AMG has been working on a bi-turbo V6 in 3.2-litre and 3.5-litre guises — the latter for the next CLS — so either may be used in the AMG SLK. Look for about 225kW.
There will be three suspension versions: normal (standard steel suspension); sports (firmer springs and dampers); dynamic handling, which includes electronically-adaptive dampers, and direct steer variable ratio steering.
Race face: the new SLK exterior (below) and interior (right).