Everybody likes the new SLK

http://www.carpages.co.uk/mercedes_benz/slk-review-part-1-16-07-05.asp
The new Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Roadster was launched in the UK in the summer of 2004 replacing the successful first-generation model which
enjoyed sales of over 308,000.
The new SLK serves as a symbol for the new, dynamic brand image of Mercedes-Benz. and is even more alluring, more powerful and sportier than ever.
Four models are available the 4-cylinder 200 KOMPRESSOR, 280 V6, 350 V6 and the range topping V8 SLK 55 AMG delivering 360 bhp. Transmissions range from the 6-speed manual standard on the 200 KOMPRESSOR, 280 and 350 (5-speed automatic transmission available as a 1,450 option on the 200 KOMPRESSOR). 7G-Tronic the worlds first 7-speed automatic transmission for passenger cars is available as a 1,770 option on the 280 and 350 models and is standard on the SLK 55 AMG.
Prices start at 28,045 for the SLK 200 KOMPRESSOR and rise to 50,530 for the SLK 55 AMG.
With tough competition in the form of the Audi TT Roadster, BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster we tested the SLK 350 to find out if Mercedes-Benz's new roadster is class leader material.
How It Drove - Performance
The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class 350 is powered by a 3498 cc, V6-cylinder engine which produces 272 hp @ 6000 rpm enabling the SLK 350 to accelerate from 0 - 62.5 mph in just 5.6 seconds and continue onto an electronically controlled top speed of 155 mph.
The SLK 350's V6 engine is a totally new development boasting all the qualities you look for in a powerful, free-revving sports roadster engine. It also sets the pace in terms of fuel consumption returning a realistic 26.7 mpg on a combined cycle.
We drove the SLK 350 from our Devon base to Liverpool for a wedding via our favourite Welsh 'B' and unclassified roads. When pottering along the unclassified roads the SLK was well mannered and as docile as any family saloon car. However, whilst making up time on 'B' roads the SLK transformed into a fully blown sports roadster, far more capable than the safety limits imposed by speed restrictions and common sense. We regularly drive these roads but we were particularly impressed with the aptitude that the SLK had for these demanding roads it is the perfect blend of performance and refinement. In fact we were so impressed with the SLK's performance that we decided to follow the same route home.
On 'A' roads and Motorways it was simply a case of selecting sixth gear and cruising - with so much power on tap overtaking is easy. Overtaking on 'A' roads is effortless you just drop a gear or two should you need to and go but you do have to watch your terminal speed as it can soon run into treble figures.
We drove the SLK around the Lake District and there is nothing more rewarding than switching off the audio system and listening to the powerful hypnotic engine and throaty exhaust note bouncing off the surrounding stone walls as you climb through the gears.
The short-throw shift action 6-speed gearbox can be a bit notchy around town and it did become tiresome in slow moving stop/start traffic, but on the move it is superb offering light and precise gear changes. The 7G-Tronic automatic transmission is available as a 1,770 option on the 280 and 350 models.
The SLK 350 is equipped with a lightweight braking system including perforated front and solid rear discs. The front brakes are four-piston, fixed callipers, internally ventilated brake discs, perforated 330 x 28 mm and on the rear two-piston, fixed callipers, solid brake discs 290 x 10 mm.
Mercedes-Benz has used an electronically controlled solenoid valve for the brake force booster which allows brake pressure to be metered with particularly high precision. Which also helps to improve the dynamics of the brake pulses emitted by the ESP (Electronic Stability Program) and Brake Assist.
The brakes work exceptionally well and make short work of shedding excess speed but in our opinion the brake pedal lacks feel and we can only assume that this is because of the 'brake-by-wire' system which is electronically controlled.
How It Drove - Ride/Handling
The preceding SLK was not the best handling car on the road and unbelievably had recirculating-ball steering, which is rather agricultural by today's standards. The new SLK is a completely different car, sharing little with the outgoing model bar the name.
Mercedes have fitted rack and pinion steering to the new SLK-Class and our test car was equipped with Parameter speed sensitive power steering (200 option) which is variable and dependent on engine speed. At lower urban speeds; the assistance level is high for quick and easy manoeuvres. At Motorway speeds the level of assistance is reduced to enhance straight-line stability.
One of our colleagues commented that ideally they would have liked a little a bit more feedback but there is a fine balance between being too direct and uncomfortable and the SLK is more of a sophisticated roadster than an out and out track car.
Our test car was also equipped with 18" 5-spoke AMG alloy wheels - 225/40 front tyres and 245/35 rear tyres including sports suspension (1,200 option). The sports suspension option offers a firmer suspension setup and damping settings. With the sports suspension fitted, the body is lowered by 10 mm at the front and the rear and total spring travel at both axles is shortened by 10 mm compared to the standard chassis, while the spring rates increase by as much as 10 per cent. The result is minimal body roll and exceptionally high levels of grip.
With the 18" AMG wheels and lowered suspension you certainly feel in tune with the road surface but the ride remains supple. Mercedes-Benz have made an excellent job of filtering out unwanted vibrations including scuttle shake which is indicative of most convertibles, roof up or down.
With the low ride height, sports suspension and AMG bodystyling (2,550 option), you have to be careful driving the SLK over speed bumps which isn't always to the amusement of tailing traffic. We did bottom out the car once or twice at speed on an undulating 'B' road which was little unnerving but only to be expected.
Rarely during our drive on Wales' demanding 'B' roads did the ESP - Electronic Stability Program impede the SLK's progess. Only when pulling out of a road junction in the wet with a bit too much enthusiasm did the ESP system cut in and bring the car back into line quicker than we could. Obviously the ESP isn't there to correct bad driving and nor should it be used as a substitute for common sense, but it is reassuring to know that the SLK is equipped with this safety system as standard. Ease of Use
The Mercedes-Benz SLK is a very easy car to drive and manoeuvre. Visibility is very good with the rood down although it is a little more difficult to reverse park with the roof up.
The cabin is simple, ergonomically laid out and brimming with innovative features to reduce the strain of modern driving.
The SLK is fitted with the new electro-hydraulic vario-roof which at the push of a button retracts into the boot space, leaving a flush rear deck. It takes around 22 seconds for the roof to lower, changing from a hard-top coupe to an open-top roadster and vice versa. For safety reasons you cannot operate the roof on the move and your finger is required to stay on the button throughout the process. It can be remotely operated from the key fob, if you have chosen this option (90) and again you have to keep your finger on the button. The roof is a work of engineering origami, pioneered in 1996 and first seen on the previous model - it set new trends in automotive convertible design.
The new SLK offers greater boot space than the previous model (when the roof is lowered) but if you are planning on going away for a long weekend and intend putting the` roof down you will have to travel light. We attended a wedding away from home and found that we could fit our entire luggage in, but not in suit cases as they were too bulky. Using the standard VDA method for measuring boot space, with the hood down you can cram in 208 litres of luggage (with optional TIREFIT), which increases to 300 litres with the roof closed. The boot is equipped with a light.
Other handy storage areas within the car include a folding armrest with compartment and a large lockable storage box on rear bulkhead between the two seats both lock as does the glovebox via the the central door locking. Further storage includes a compartment (with power socket) in place of an ashtray, a net in the passenger footwell and 2 door bins.
Our car was fitted with optional Bi-Xenon headlamps with cornering function and headlamp wash (710). The Xenon headlamps are superb offering increased vision in all driving conditions on both dipped and main beam.
The cornering function activates when the headlamps are switched on, and work up to a maximum speed of 25 mph. The cornering light function cuts in automatically in response to the driver using the turn signal indicator or turning the steering wheel by a corresponding angle. At which point the appropriate cornering light (utilising the fog lights) illuminates the area to one side of the vehicle through an angle of up to 65 degrees and a distance of up to 30 metres, thereby lighting up areas of the road which would normally not be visible with conventional headlamp technology.
Headlamp Assist is standard throughout the model range and ensures that the headlamps are automatically activated in low level light conditions such as tunnels and underground car parks. Our test car was equipped with rain sensing wipers (90 option) and automatically dimming rear-view mirror and driver's exterior mirror (250 option) preventing tailing traffic dazzling you at night. The passenger mirror can be programmed to drop when reverse gear is selected enabling you to view the kerb when reversing.
Speedtronic variable speed cruise control comes as standard and enables you to select the speed you wish to maintain. You can also store a maximum speed at which you would like to travel which is ideal for those 50mph contra flows or for those with more points on their licence than they would like.
Safety and Security
The following safety & security equipment is standard on the Mercedes-Benz SLK 350:
Driver and front passenger airbags, head/thorax sidebags for driver and passenger, alarm system with immobiliser and interior protection, ABS (anti-lock braking system) with BAS (brake assist), automatic child seat recognition sensor (works in conjunction with Mercedes-Benz child seats fitted with transponder), brake-pad wear indicator, ESP (electronic stability program) with ASR (acceleration skid control), fog lights, high-level third brake light, locking wheel bolts, remote central locking, roll-over protection, passenger safety cell and seatbelt pre-tensioners.
The SLK also benefits from drive away locking, where the doors are automatically locked as you drive off.
Mercedes-Benz have not fitted deadlocks for safety reasons.
Comfort and Refinement
The new car is slightly larger than the outgoing model, the body is 72 mm longer and 65 mm wider, providing the SLK's occupants with more interior space.
Leg room is very good as is lateral space. Head room with the roof up is very good and with the roof down infinite - taller occupants depending on their seating position will find their hair ruffled with the roof down even with the standard wind deflector in place which does an excellent job keeping the wind at bay. Getting in and out of the SLK is an easy affair, the doors open wide and the sills are low to step over.
The wind deflector is a net which is suspended between the rear head restraints, acting as a windbreak by breaking up the airflow around back of your neck. The net can prove awkward at night as it can be difficult to see through when reversing, especially with the roof up - it can be easily removed.
The optional leather sports seats are comfortable and supportive - featuring integral head restraints. Both the driver's and passenger's seats are electrically adjustable; the driver's seat has a three position memory function, which also remembers the steering wheel position and mirror settings. This can be tied into the remote control, which will alter the settings to match the driver's individual key (i.e. his and hers). The steering wheel can also be programmed to move away when the key is removed to aid exit and return to it's set position when the key is inserted. A multi-function leather trimmed steering wheel with trip computer and gearshift buttons (for automatic transmissions) is standard throughout the SLK model range.
Although we tested the SLK during June it was cold enough in the evenings to make use of the optional AIRSCARF (340 option) and the three-stage heated seats (310 option) which worked well. AIRSCARF works by emitting warm air from special vents in the head restraints at the touch of a button acting as an invisible scarf flowing around the head and neck of both the driver and passenger. This option is perfect for topless night driving or those cold winter days unfortunately it doesn't work with the air-conditioning on hot summer days.
Our test car was equipped with luxury automatic climate control (425 option) which does an excellent job of regulating the individual temperature of both the driver and passenger.
The interior lighting package is standard on all SLK models and includes centre-console lighting, illuminated sunvisors, footwell and exit lighting as a well as a reading light fitted in the interior mirror. Further features include electric windows, electrically operated and heated door mirrors - our test car featured folding mirrors (190 option which was helpful when parking the SLK on the street), cupholders, tinted glass and an outside temperature gauge.
How It Looks - Exterior
One word of caution - we wouldn't recommend that you buy a Mercedes-Benz SLK if you are a shrinking violet. It might have been the gorgeous designo Mauritius Blue metallic paint work (600 option) or maybe the 2,550 worth of AMG body styling, topped off with the 1,200 AMG 18" wheels - but one thing is for sure you are going to be noticed. We attended a wedding with the car and the bride took second place to the car which attracted a lot of attention.
Roof up or down the SLK is a work of automotive art with great road presence - add the body kit and wheels into the equation and you would put a huge grin on the Mona Lisa.
The new roadster has been given more masculine lines which not only show that it is more powerful but also that it has grown up. The front symbolises the car's sporty attributes enthusing power and performance by means of a long bonnet with a wide, slightly raised central axis, which tapers towards the striking front section and gives the roadster a new but familiar face. In this way the SLK echoes a stylistic feature of the successful Mercedes Silver Arrows from Formula 1, while demonstrating unmistakably that it possesses the genes of the legendary Mercedes racing sports cars.
Other styling features of the SLK include two chrome oval exhaust tailpipes and striking LED tail and brake lights.
We prefer the SLK's exterior proportions to that of its bigger brother the SL - a passing SL owner in a petrol station in Liverpool, said that he preferred the SLK with an AMG body kit to his own car and who are we to disagree.
How It Looks - Interior
The interior design reflects the SLK's exterior elegance with a beautifully crafted cabin. The new instrument cluster features black-faced dials surrounded by silver-painted trim rings. Silver-painted magnesium trim also features on the door handles and parts of the armrest.
Fabric upholstery is standard on the SLK 350 but our test car was equipped with a number of options from the designo programme which allows you to individualise your Mercedes-Benz.
The sumptuous interior of our test car included designo two tone Mauritius blue Nappa leather upholstery (2,140 option), designo Anthracite Alcantara roof lining (950 option), designo two tone leather steering wheel and gearshift (350 option), designo leather covered trim parts (290 option) and roll-over bars covered in designo leather (480 option). These options came to a combined total of 4,210 and in our opinion are worth every penny because they turn an off the peg car into a haute couture experience.
In Car Entertainment and Satellite Navigation
Mercedes-Benz SLK 350
Our test car was fitted with Mercedes Benz - Cockpit Management System and Navigation Display (COMMAND APS) incorporating an RDS radio, single slot CD/DVD drive in the centre console, with DVD Navigation in the luggage compartment (1950 option).
You can watch DVD's (region 2) whilst stationery, and when you move off you still retain the sound. We enjoyed the odd episode of 'Hectors House' as you can see above. Even when a DVD is in operation you retain European DVD navigation, with a moving colour map as there is another DVD drive in the boot.
The navigation system is very useful and makes map reading arguments a thing of the past . We attended a wedding in Liverpool, with separate venues all over the city and not once did we need to consult a map. The navigation 'commands' are both visible on the colour TFT moving map and optionally on the driver's LCD panel between the speedo and rev counter, there are also voice prompts giving you guidance ahead of turnings.
Our test car was also equipped with a six disc CD autochanger which is mounted in the glove box (350 option) and the Harman/Kardon Logic7 surround sound system (500 option) which includes eleven speakers with 380-watt output.
In our opinion the audio option not only sounds fantastic but enhances the driving experience.
The COMMAND APS system can control the hands-free telephone system (420 option) which will work with a number of compatible mobile phones.
The audio and cockpit management system controls are located on the steering wheel for ease of use and safety.
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Who needs an SLR when you can have a similar-looking SLK for a tiny fraction of the price?
DAS
For direct contact replace nospam with schmetterling
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Similar is not the same!
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Two hundred thousand+ quids worth of "not the same"?
DAS
For direct contact replace nospam with schmetterling
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Exactly!
There has to be a qualitative difference.
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