From £29,170
An all-weather roadster with a particularly impressive and punchy four-cylinder engine

Our Verdict

Evolutionary looks shroud new underpinnings. Is it a good mix?

The Mercedes-Benz SLK has the right image, a posh cabin and it's easy to live with

What is it?

Enthusiast drivers would be forgiven for having mentally docked the Mercedes SLK under ‘humdrum boulevard special’. And it’s true that the first SLK (back in 1996) was known more for its revolutionary folding hard top than for its abilities on winding roads.

This, third generation, model is again more of a tourer than a sports car, but Mercedes is promising a much greater emphasis on agility. Described as being ‘70 per cent all-new’ the SLK uses the same base platform as before, adding slightly increased width and claimed improved rigidity, partly thanks to a fibre-reinforced rear bulkhead.

The more aggressive SL-style exterior gets an aluminium bonnet and aluminium wings. The SLS-style interior is relatively plain, but clear and well screwed together. Although there’s a raft of sophisticated extras available (including a Reactolite-style glass roof panel option, adaptive damping, a variable rate steering rack and Torque Vectoring Brakes), there’s a strong argument that this base model could be the best SLK of the new line-up.

What’s it like?

Most impressive is the new 1.8-litre turbocharged engine. Equipped with a very sophisticated high pressure injection system and twin balancer shafts, it gives a remarkably tractable and diesel-like response, delivering its significant maximum torque from just 1800rpm to 4600rpm. Indeed, this flat torque delivery means that changing up as the engine approaches the redline can result in a most unexpected surge of acceleration as the motor spins back down into the very punchy mid-range.

It’s seems pretty frugal, too. According to the trip computer, this manual SLK200 was about twice as economical as the V6-engined, autobox, SLK350 I drove on the same demanding mountain roads. And, in truth, it didn’t feel significantly slower.

The new SLK now has quicker steering and this model, rolling on standard-issue steel springs and dampers, was decently agile in that typically restrained Mercedes way. The driver needs to put some effort in to extract the best from it, pushing the car hard into bends. But it’s pretty easy to place and resists understeer well.

Should I buy one?

This is a very pleasant machine. It’s an enthusiastic, compact, neat handling and brisk all-weather roadster with a particularly impressive and punchy four-cylinder engine. It’s also well-made and as capable of tackling a mountain road as it is happy to bowl down to the shops. It’s not for serious enthusiasts, but it’s easy to see the attraction.

Hilton Holloway

Mercedes-Benz SLK 200 BlueEfficiency

Price: £29,970; Top speed: 149mph; 0-62mph: 7.3sec; Economy: 44mpg; Co2: 149g/kml; Kerbweight: 1435kg; Engine type: 4cyls turbopetrol, 1796cc; Power: 181bhp; Torque: 200lb ft at 1800-4600rpm; Gearbox: 7-speed manual

Join the debate

Comments
11

24 March 2011

44mpg for a 1.8T ,pretty impressive , well done MB

25 March 2011

And how much if you have a few toys? Heaps more than 30K I'd wager. A bit over styled, but maybe one of the best new Mercs all the same.

25 March 2011

The exterior a little overdone and interior a little over retro but still a great car and im sure a great drive.wouldnt mind one either!!

25 March 2011

In the US you can buy aftermarket stick-on plastic wood for the dashboard, centre console and steering wheel of your big fat pickup - it looks just like the interior shots of this Merc. Yuk.

Otherwise, seems like a fine car.

25 March 2011

7 speed manual, really? That's a lot of cog stirring for a car with that much torque.

25 March 2011

Is it a reflection or are those strip lights on the centre console and door card arm rests?

Aside from that, it looks like a good all rounder.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

25 March 2011

I've just spec'd up the car on the German website. You'll be luck to see any for £30K Needless to say the press pics show the all singing/dancing one. From what I can make out on the German Mercedes site that's a 1st edition option for £10K euros!!!! very nice options right enough but one or two that won't really be required.

25 March 2011

looks like this and the new Z4 are aiming for exactly the same customer nowadays.

25 March 2011

£2,400 for the sky control roof

25 March 2011

David - the SLK200K gets a six-speed manual box.

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