Mercedes-Benz is putting the finishing touches to a new SLK following a production sign-off for the folding hard-top roadster by members of the German car maker’s board of directors.
The new two-seater, caught here covered in only the mildest of disguise, is set to go on sale in the UK shortly after a planned unveiling at next year’s Geneva motor show.
The new SLK looks similar to its predecessor at first glance - but look beyond the strategically placed black tape adorning the latest pre-production prototypes and it is clear the overall styling has been completely overhauled.
In keeping with recent Mercedes models, the new SLK receives a more aggressive front end dominated by a large oval shaped grille. The overall surfacing is also much tauter, giving it a more confident appearance all round. The rear end is also significantly less rounded.
Dimensionally, the new roadster has grown, but not by much. Length is up by 31mm at 4131mm, width extends by 33mm to 1808mm and height is up by a scant 9mm at 1304mm – all of which has served to liberate greater interior accommodation and boot space.
It’s underneath the aluminium and steel body, though, where Mercedes-Benz concentrated much of its development work. “We wanted to give the SLK a more sporting flavor without compromising its inherent comfort,” said project leader Jürgen Weissinger.
Among the chassis developments are wider tracks and variable damping control that will be offered as part of an optional agility package.
Other changes include the adoption of an electro-mechanical steering system and Mercedes-Benz’s electronically operated torque-vectoring brake.
Power for the new SLK comes in the form of three petrol engines and, for the first time, a single diesel. Kicking off proceedings is a base SLK200 CGI model running a turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder direct-injection unit with 184bhp and 199lb ft of torque.
It will be joined by the car we rode in (see panel), the mid-range SLK250 CGI using the same basic engine as its more affordable sibling but tuned to deliver a sturdier 204bhp and and 229lb ft. Positioned above it will be the SLK350 CGI, which adopts the company’s new 3.5-litre V6 direct-injection engine, as recently unveiled in the S-class.
For the first time there will also be a diesel in the form of the SLK250 CDI, although it is unclear whether it will be sold from the outset. It uses Mercedes’ 2.2-litre four-cylinder common-rail diesel engine delivering 204bhp and 369lb ft.