Mercedes defeats the rain of Spain
THE epoch-making SLK moves into its third version this summer with the most evocative shape so far.
The original, 15 years ago, was a wedge-shaped twoseater which revived the fold-away metal roof. The advantage over a fabric roof was in better heat and noise isolation, all-year weather proofing and the fact that it was less likely to be damaged in street crime.
A core model was the SLK 200K in 2001 with a supercharged engine. A more curvaceous replacement came in 2004, along with a super-quick SLK 55 AMG version in 2005.
In June, the Mk3 arrives, a bit bigger, looking hot with its hungry face, and lightened using aluminium for the bonnet and front wings.
The new engines and transmissions, including a seven-speed automatic gearbox, improve performance and reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
The supercharged (compressor) engine is history, replaced by a turbocharger, and diesel comes to the SLK for the first time – already adopted in sports cars from Audi and BMW.
The Mk2 model introduced headrests that had a hot-air vent for those chillier days when it is so enriching to have the roof down. Its successor has flip-out vanes that cover the gap between the rollover bars to reduce wind buffeting – a very small step in automobile history.
Options for the roof are a see-through panel and a panel that has a darker setting to reduce sun glare.
The car was previewed in Tenerife in what could have been perfect spring weather but snow spoilt the show and part of the route into the high peaks had to be abandoned. Rain was prolific and gave a chance to pop the roof up and down when necessary. There was plenty of sun, too, to sample the two-tone roof panel, plus enough wind to cancel a beach-side check-in at the luxuriant Abama hotel.
So, there were lots of hidden and not-so-hidden persuaders to like the new SLK. What’s not to like, you may think, on a car that looks this good.
Other motoring commentators are already dismissing the Mk2 as a car for the girls. I disagree. It has plenty of curves and clout to suit any gender – and the first model still looks excellent, too, a tribute to its styling.
This year’s new SLK is offered as the SLK 200 with 184ps, at £29,970 in standard trim, or as a Sport, at £33,970, with six-speed manual gearboxes. The seven-speed automatic gearbox adds £1,520 and reduced CO2 emissions from 158g/km to 151g/km.
The SLK 250 has a tweaked version of the same 1796cc four-cylinder motor, giving 204ps. Automatic gears are obligatory for the moment (153g/km) and it costs £35,710 or £39,710 for the Sport.
The fifth model at launch is the SLK 350 Sport automatic with a 3498cc V6 giving 306ps (301.7bhp). CO2 is 167g/km and it costs £44,115. All carry the BlueEFFICIENCY (sic) eco-tag. Economy ranges from a best of 43.5mpg for the SLK 200 auto to 39.8mpg for the SLK 350. On the way later this year is a diesel.
The standard SLK comes with 17-inch wheels, LED daytime lights, stop-start, a colour information screen, wiring for the Becker after-
The roads were a real-world test for the handling and suspension comfort of the SLK.
market navigation system, the expected safety devices. Sport adds AMG body styling, 18-inch AMG wheels, sterner suspension, AMG mats and leather seats.
This was my first time on Tenerife. I’d go again for the variety of scenery and take a bicycle for the challenging climbs. The roads were a realworld test for the handling and suspension comfort of the SLK. I can’t say it felt any better than the old model but we all came through unscathed after a deluge of narrow blind curves and some random surfaces.
Our gallant Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson was less fortunate. He had his right arm amputated in the battle to capture the island from the Spanish in July, 1797. He gave a barrel of ale and cheese to the victors in thanks for their civility in victory. They gave him a barrel of the finest wine.
The SLK has some fake aluminium on the steering wheel, a bit of trickery also found on the new C-Class. It looks up-market South Korean, if such a thing exists.
The 180-odd horse power is enough for most of us, giving 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and a max of 150mph, which is
STYLE: Mercedes-Benz’s latest SLK.