What is it? This is the 3rd generation Mercedes-Benz SLK; first launched in 1996 this two seater roadster has come full circle from its humble beginnings. With a shot of testosterone to its flanks this beefed up model is now available with a 2.1 diesel twin turbo engine.
Who is it aimed at? This is the option for those looking for frugal fun. The Mercedes-Benz SLK CDI AMG is the first rear wheel drive, diesel front engined, two seater sports car.
Styling? One of the best looking two seaters on the market, Mercedes has made a major effort to appeal to the wider audience, and not just the stereotypes it has been associated with previous models. The badge proudly sits in the middle of the grill making it unmistakable; the long bonnet hides a multitude of engines. The SLK has been on a bulk gaining mission and it really suits it, the stance is now aggressive without looking bloated, this AMG version has lowered suspension and 18″ alloys which look appealing without completely ruining the ride comfort.
Under the Bonnet? This test car came complete with a 2.1 twin turbo diesel. You may be a little confused by the engine choice but you can’t complain with the figures, this engine has 204bhp and can propel you to 60 mph in just 6.7 seconds. The top speed is a sports car rivaling 151 mph and yet according to Mercedes it returns an average of 56.5 mpg. On paper this is a highly irresistible combination of sports car performance and fuel sipping engine, paired with a 7 speed auto it becomes a very desirable option when deciding between petrol and diesel.
The stop start technology takes a bit of getting used to but it can be turned off, the diesel engine is exceptional on motorways and has power on tap, the oomph and pulling power available at low speeds is comforting when overtaking. There is a manual mode with paddle shift changes and this gives the driver the option of changing up or down when they require.
What About Inside? As soon as you enter the cabin you are greeted with sumptuous leather sports seats that hold you in but don’t hinder the driver, the whole cabin has been set out with the drivers needs at the forefront. There is plenty of room for even the tallest of adults and throughout there is brushed aluminium in abundance and everything you touch feels of high quality.
The Satellite Navigation and Audio controls are easy to scroll through, the design of the interior has been as well thought out as the outside, plenty of buttons to press but not too many that you are reading the owner’s manual for days. For a hard top convertible the boot area is fairly generous at 335 litres, or 225 litres with the roof down.
On the Road? Once on the road it’s immediately evident that this 3rd generation SLK has come on in leaps and bounds. The steering is far more direct. Our test car came with sports suspension which some may find too unforgiving, especially when teamed with the low profile wheels and the dreadful British roads. On the motorway this is a very capable car, allowing the driver to simply cruise along without bother, when pushed on twisty country roads the handling is good and oozes confidence, the diesel engine can become a little noisy and the gearbox can be slow selecting a lower gear at times. But the overall grunt from this diesel engine is very impressive.
Safety As expected of a Mercedes Benz the SLK is awash with safety features, from Attention assist that detects fatigue in the driver, Intelligent light system that differentiates between changing roads and conditions, Active lane keeping, Blind spot assist to a braking system that can anticipate certain dangers.
Mercedes-Benz has also included restraint systems for the passengers that protect the neck in case of a collision. Options include an Emergency call system that detects if the vehicle is in a collision and will contact the Mercedes-Benz call centre with the position of the vehicle and communicate with the vehicles occupants if possible.
Options The 2.1 diesel engine is the only one on offer, there are however 3 petrol ones to choose from; the SLK 200 is a 1.8 petrol producing 184bhp, the SLK 250 has the same 1.8 petrol engine but the output is slightly higher at 204bhp. The pick of the bunch has to be the SLK 350 which houses a petrol V6 3.5 litre and 306bhp. If you are feeling really brave or crave raw speed then the SLK 55 AMG has a 5.5 litre V8 and a whopping 421 bhp.
Verdict This is a step in the dark slightly for Mercedes-Benz by producing a diesel two seater, you will love it for its stunning looks, well made interior and on the road presence but the diesel engine takes a bit more convincing. While it makes a lot of sense to have such a frugal yet fast engine as part of the options available the disappointment you feel when turning the key and hearing the diesel lump into life is hard to diminish.
For people looking for a superb quality roadster that won’t cost the earth to run yet provides supreme luxury then the Mercedes-Benz SLK CDI AMG is the one for you.
Why you’ll buy one? Exterior and interior styling; Economy; Quality of the finishes
Why you won’t? Sport suspension is too unforgiving; Diesel engine doesn’t fit the sports; image; Price
BMW Z4 – prices from £27,735
Mercedes-Benz SLK250 CDI AMG Sport
Engine: 2143cc, In Line 4 cylinder, twin turbo diesel
Max Speed: 151 mph
0- 60mph: 6.7 seconds
Emissions: 132 g/km
Model price Range: – £36,620
No of doors: 2
Fuel Type: Diesel
Fuel Economy combined: 56.5mpg
Boot capacity: roof Up: 335 litres Roof down: 225 litres
*Our test car was kindly provided by the Mercedes-Benz retail group who are one of the largest and well respected luxury car retailers in the UK. The group prides themselves on helpful, courteous and happy employees who provide a personal and informative and in the short time I spend in their showroom all of this was very obvious. The waiting lounge is relaxed yet classy and the walls adorned with screens showing Mercededs-Benz latest offerings. There was even a cabinet that contained nail polishes! For a list of Mercedes-Benz retail group showrooms visit www.mercedes-benzretailgroup.co.uk to find your nearest branch and see for yourself how buying a car can be the best experience you can have.
9th May, 2014