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

Driven this week

  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK
  • Volvo V90
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The Volvo V90 is a big estate ploughing its own furrow. We’re about to see if it is refreshing or misguided
  • Kia Stonic
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Handsome entrant into the bulging small crossover market has a strong engine and agile handling, but isn’t as comfortable or complete as rivals