The formula is simple, and the Mercedes SLK has been milking it – in sales terms, at least – since it brought a folding hard-top to the class. Start with the right image, add a posh cabin and make it easy to live with.

Being fast helps, too, but these days a fashion-led roadster should arguably be leaning towards economy as well as excitement. By these rules, the new SLK should have about as broad an appeal as a compact roadster can muster, so broad is its range.

At the bottom end, the 181bhp SLK 200 forms the entry point for the SLK range, at around £30k in its base trim. The SLK 250 gets a 201bhp version of the same engine but adds over £4000 to the price, while the 3.5 V6 SLK 350 is another £10k again.

There's also the first ever diesel to find its way into the baby Mercedes roadster. The SLK 250 CDI gets the company’s twin-turbocharged diesel four-pot and seven-speed torque converter transmission as standard, plus impressive headline figures of 56.5mpg and 132g/km. A naturally aspirated 5.5-litre V8 SLK 55 AMG arrived early in 2012.

But it's the SLK 200 that has the most to prove. In this sub-£35k arena lies the broadest array of tough competition – some cheaper, some greener and some more powerful – and this will be the biggest-selling model.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Top 5 Convertibles

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Mercedes-Benz range

Driven this week

  • Jaguar E-Pace P300
    First Drive
    19 November 2017
    Jaguar’s second SUV faces up to the Audi Q3, BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA. Tough task, so is the E-Pace up to it?
  • Jaguar E-Pace D180
    First Drive
    19 November 2017
    Not the driver’s car many would hope from any car wearing the Jaguar badge, but the E-Pace is an attractive and interesting addition to the compact premium SUV ranks
  • Subaru Impreza
    First Drive
    17 November 2017
    The fifth-generation Subaru Impreza is much improved from top to bottom, but a poor engine and gearbox keep it trailing in this competitive class
  • Ford Fiesta Vignale
    First Drive
    17 November 2017
    We get a first taste of Ford’s poshest Fiesta in turbocharged diesel form
  • Seat Arona
    Car review
    17 November 2017
    Seat is on a roll but can the Arona, its new junior SUV, cut it in such an ultra-competitive class?