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Mercedes-Benz SLK

Mercedes-Benz SLK Published: 14th Oct 2015 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Mercedes-Benz SLK
Mercedes-Benz SLK
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Mercedes-Benz SLK


Baby SL is based upon the C Class saloon offering sports car looks and image but saloon running costs. The SLK has been around for almost 20 years catering for an increasing number of enthusiasts who are after modern collectibles thanks to their better appointments and conveniences, resistance to rust and 24/7 dependability. An SLK gives you this and for the price of a half respectable MGB! Plenty are around but many haven’t aged well and cheap buys usually aren’t bargains. Sheer numbers make the SLK debatable as a ‘real’ classic and instead a good classical daily driver although M-B owners’ club now hosts a dedicated SLK day event so who knows?


1996 SLK arrives in UK. Based upon fourcylinder C230K (supercharged) saloon and automatic transmission with one trim level.

2000 Entry model SLK200 and SLK320 expands range; former uses 163bhp engine but latter employs 3.2-litre V6 for 218bhp. ESP traction control and six-speed autobox feature across all ranges. Facelift also sees tidied up looks with new bumper and bodycoloured side skirting.

2001 AMG 3.2 becomes range flagship. Twin spark-plug engine delivers 349bhp fed via a special gearbox; only 263 official RHD UK cars were offered.

2002 Limited Edition reaches showrooms sporting 7.5x17inch sports alloys, black nappa leather interior highlighted by brushed alloy trim detailing.

2004 Special Edition launched to mop up models with 16inch wheels, grey or red nappa trim and the previous brushed aluminium detailing. That summer, the new (R171) SLK replaces original R170 with new look, longer wheelbase, seven-speed transmissions and added safety features.

2007 Facelift sees refreshed look and new engine line up.


The SLK drives pretty much like a C Class saloon that it’s based upon although the shorter wheelbase gives it a more agile feel. The foot operated handbrake means that manual transmission is awkward to deal with; most are autos anyway and it’s a good responsive unit. Real performance only begins with the 193bhp 230K variant although the base 200K is fine if you’re not looking for sports car pace. Original SLKs were criticised for their rather meek and mild nature and it’s true that they are better at cruising and posing than cross country fun, although there’s little wrong with their handling. That novel roof is brilliant and provides all year round open top motoring at the touch of a button.


If you can, opt for the V6 because the ‘fours’ can feel coarse when revved hard although they are easier on the fuel. Manuals are a matter of taste, as are the special editions. The R171 is a nicer car with more rounded looks but there’s something ‘very SL’ about the original SLK.


You can pick up a shabby SLK for around a grand although it’s wiser to up the ante and spend at least £2000 for something remotely half decent. Apart from AMGs, engine sizes don’t affect values greatly so pay £5000 for a good last-of-the-line R170 or say £6500-7000 for an AMG on sale at an M-B specialist. R171s start from £6000 on the forecourts, maybe £4200 at general auctions. There’s plenty around so you can be choosy.


The SLK came at a time when Mercedes legendary build quality was slipping and, along with C and E Class ranges, can display serious signs of rusting – some which may lead to an MoT failure. Wheelarches, sills and boot lids are more cosmetic. The four-cylinder engines are robust but can become clattery and weep oil via the head gasket. Check that the superchargers are not worn and the cats haven’t started to rattle and fall apart. The electronic autoboxes aren’t as robust as earlier Merc units; usually it’s the electronics which play up. It goes without saying that you need to check the roof for its action as certain repairs can sometimes exceed a car’s worth.

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