1 March 2004

Anyone interested in importing a new UK-spec Mercedes SLK from Europe is going to be stung by a bigger bill than they may have expected thanks to a hefty hike in the right-hand-drive surcharge.

The alarm bells were rung by an aggrieved Autocar reader who placed an order with a French dealer only to find that his surcharge to buy a right-hooker in Europe was £2593 at today’s exchange rates. A current-model SLK he imported from the same outfit in April 2002 cost £2168 extra. The buyer, who doesn’t want his name disclosed for fear of losing his place in the queue, reports that rhd premiums have risen sharply since he imported his first SLK in 1998, when the surcharge was around £1000. Mercedes, though, is blaming the price rises on increased engineering costs: ‘All the right-hand-drive surcharges we pass on are due to increased costs. Everything has to be justified to the EC according to their rules.’ The right-hand-drive surcharges are steep for anyone wanting to import one of the SLK’s rivals, too. It’s not quite as bad for a BMW Z4, which sets you back around £880, but ordering a right-hand-drive Porsche Boxster (pictured) in Europe adds approximately £2500 to the bill.

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