Merc shows its magic
The sky’s the limit for the new Mercedes roadster, writes Paul Gover in Germany
THERE is a special treat on top of the allnew Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster. The two-seater fun-mobile that brought the folding clamshell roof right up to date in 1996 now has a sunroof that leads the world.
Tapping the same technology that provides instant privacy in bathrooms around the world, Benz now has a flick-a-switch glass sunroof that instantly goes from full sun to full shade.
It’s the visual treat in a car that has been reinvented for 2011 and beyond, as well as a likely selling point that will migrate quickly across the Mercedes-Benz range.
‘‘It’s a little bit of magic. It’s an exclusive novelty,’’ says Uwe Zaiser of Daimler, sitting inside the SLK at the press preview in Stuttgart.
Benz says the objective with the thirdgeneration SLK is to provide more driving enjoyment, as well as more emotion.
It got things right with the original SLK but admits it lost a little focus with the car that leaves showrooms later this year.
‘‘We love convertibles. We love open-air driving,’’ says Michael Schumacher, Benz’s newest salesman through the Mercedes F1 team, after pulling the wraps off the SLK.
The new car is obviously bigger, chunkier in the nose but with more strength and character.
There are three engine choices, from a basic four to a V6, and three trim levels.
In Australia, prices are likely to hover close to the current model, which starts at $91,450. There will also be an AMG hotrod. Benz trumpets front guards and a bonnet made from aluminium, seven airbags and safety systems including Attention Assist and Pre-Safe Brake, which automatically applies maximum braking if it detects an imminent crash.
There is a seven-speed automatic gearbox and the maker claims the engines offer 6.1 litres/100km, with stop-start as standard.
But it’s the roof that makes the most impact, providing what Benz describes as a ‘‘wellness atmosphere’’ and cutting heat intensity by up to 80 per cent and lowering dashboard temperatures by as much as 10 per cent.
It uses a special polymer lining inside a laminated two-plate glass roof, which is normally opaque. But apply a small current and the roof is like clear glass with a slight blue tint.
It’s an impressive piece of trickery that will inevitably, bring a herd of imitators.
On top: The Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster has become a market leader with its sunroof.