A brand new convertible two-door Mercedes is quite a sparse event. The new SLK is promoting the radiator grille and the inside environment of the SLS, it is more masculine, but also more economical. Test with SLK 250.
Mercedes has a rich history in the roadsters range. Back in 1996, the first SLK generation came out (SL Kurz – a shorter SL), the first Mercedes roadster carrying a detachable rigid rooftop. In 2004, the second generation followed and, in 2011, there came the third one. The first SLK had a harmonious design, while the second one desired to emphasize the success of the motorsport, taking in the idea of the Formula 1 car “nose”, which was quite ill-considered for the elegant nature of the car.
The third SLK marks a strategy change for Mercedes: it is more dynamic, more masculine, more aggressive, the radiator grille which points outside the headlamps line is inspired by the SLS and so is the refined and remarkably trimmed interior. Farewell to the classic line of the first generation, farewell to the feminine line carrying a Formula 1 “nose” of the second generation. The new SLK seems to be, in many aspects, a smaller SLS and it dazzles with its extraordinary profile, not only a really pretty sight, but also with an upgraded Cx: 0,30 up against the 0,32 of the former generation.
The new SLK takes in elements from the SLS design on the inside and on outside and promotes a more masculine profile
The new generation is preserving the 2,43 meter (95.7 in) wheelbase of the former generation, but it is a bit wider (33 mm or 1.3 inch extra) and a bit longer (31 mm or 1.22 inch extra). The dashboard brings back the layout of the SLS and keeps the polished aluminium insertion on the center console, despite the smaller price. The standard SLK comes with a cloth upholstery, but two types of leather upholstery are also offered. The black leather from the test car (optional, also including a sunlight reflection function) perfectly suits the aluminium on the dashboard.
The interior is spacious for a two-seats roadster and the seats are comfortable and offer a good lateral support. A superior particularity apart from the SL, the driver only has the sky above his head when the car is converted. Up to 100 km/h, there are no significant turbulences, but above this speed, the driver’s hair is disheveled by wind, so opting for a wind deflector is rather necessary. The transparent one, the Airguide, following the shape of the two headrests and available together with the anodized aluminium roll-over protection bars, is not too expensive, is sexy, but does not bring a real advantage in therms of efficiency in comparison with classic wind deflector from fabric. Instead of that, the Airscarf System patented by the Mercedes, is extremely effective. At 5-6 degrees Celsius mountain temperatures on the day of the drive test, using the third heating level, you can feel your neck as if you are inside the sauna.
The Airscarf System invented by the Mercedes allows cabrio driving even when the temperature is only 5-6 degrees Celsius.
The inventor of the rigid detachable rooftop in the premium range comes up with another innovation. Apart from the standard and the polycarbonate transparent one, Mercedes also offers the glass Magic Sky Control, with a transparency that can be adjusted by pushing a button. When the roof is mounted, the volume of the boot reaches 335 litres (11.8 cu ft.) (Z4 – 310 litre or 10.9 cu ft), but with the roof down, the volume is reduced by 110 litres (3.88 cu ft.) down to 225 litres (7.95 cu ft) (including the 51 litres (1.8 cu ft.) reserved for the spare wheel, if one chooses the Tirefit system). Beyond numbers, we must appreciate that the loading entry is big enough, even if the rooftop is down.
- A more masculine design
- The perfect cabrio sensation
- Luxurious interior ambient
- Clear better dynamics
MAX vs MIN
- Higher price
- Expensive options
We drove the SLK 250 version, completed with a 7-speed automatic transmission. By 100 kg lighter than the V6 version and with a lower weight on the front axle, the SLK 250 is very agile in driving. Subjectively speaking, the new SLK seems sharper than the former model, and the rear wheel drive produces more delight. The blower-fed engine, now having a turbine instead of a mechanical compressor, has a distortionless transmission and the pulling force is surprisingly vigorous, considering the low displacement.SLK is available with three petrol engines, all with direct injection: two of them are 4-cylinder, 1,8 litres, 184 and 204 HP turbocharged engines and a naturally aspired V6 engine of 3,5 litres and 306 HP. Both basic engines has standard a 6 speed manual gearbox, the 7G-Tronic being available as option. At the bottom and top end of the range, Mercedes offers the 250 CDI 2.1 bi-turbodiesel with 204 HP (for Europe) and SLK 55 AMG powered by the normal aspirated V8 with 5.461 cc and 421 HP. All engines, including the automatic transmission ones, standardly include a start/stop system.
The new 1,8 litre turbocharged engine is very dynamic for its displacement
Mercedes proclaims an even more reduced fuel consumption than for the manual transmission version: 6,1 l/100 km (23 mpg/33 mpg), up against 6,4 l/100 km (22mpg/32 mpg). The truth is that the SLK 250 is really economical for this class. We covered over 600 km with one full tank (the average was under 10 l/100 km in light sporty driving), which has now a reduced capacity from 70 to 60 litres, exactly because of the obvious lower consumption of the new generation. The 7-speed G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission (one can also choose shift paddles placed behind the steering wheel) is according to the Mercedes spirit: delightful when changing, but a bit slow but, subjectively speaking, somewhat faster than, let’s say, the E-Class.
Mercedes provides three types of suspension for the SLK: standard, sport or adaptive. The former one is part of the Dynamic Handling Package, that also includes parametric steering. The options list is extremely sophisticated and it contains various top technologies: the multimedia unit with a navigation system and the Comand online with in-built internet access, intelligent headlamps and an AMG sports package.
Photo: Răzvan Loghin
VerdictThe VerdictMore of an aristocrat, more luxurious, more economical and more dynamical, the new SLK is quite expensive in comparison with the Audi TT Roadster or the BMW Z4. The brand and the heritage are precious.
Technical data SLK 250 EU version
|Engine type||L4, turbo|
|Max. torque/revs (Nm/rpm)||310/2000-4300|
|Transmission||aut. 7 gears|
|Maximum speed (km/h)||243|
|Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)||6.6|
|Combined fuel consumption (l/100 km)||6.2|
|Emission CO2 (g/km)||144|
|Pret (euro with VAT GER)||44.740|
Technical data SLK 250 USA version
|Max. torque/revs (lb-ft/rpm)||229/2,000-4,300|
|Transmission||automatic, 7 gears|
|Curb weight (lbs)||3,296|
|Trunk capacity (cu. ft)||6.4/10.1|
|Acceleration 0-60 mph (s)||6.5|
|City fuel consumption (mpg)||23|
|Highway fuel consumption (mpg)||33|