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Mercedes-Benz SLK

Mercedes-Benz SLK Published: 6th Feb 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

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A baby SL providing similar sports car looks and thrills, but with saloon car running costs, it’s become a classic in its own right

Twenty five years after it was unveiled as concept car, this shrunken SL has made its mark as a modern classic that’s tailored to those yearning for the satisfaction of owning a Mercedes that can also be used daily with impunity thanks to their overall economy, appointments, conveniences, resistance to rust and 24/7 usability all at prices you can’t buy a decent MGB for!

What makes them so special

As you’d half expect, SLKs drive pretty much like the C Class saloons they are based upon although the shorter wheelbase endows the models with a more agile feel. Real performance only manifests itself with the 193bhp 230K variant, although the base 200K is fine if you’re not looking for road burning. It’s true that SLKs have been criticised for their rather meek and mild nature and are better at cruising and posing than cross country fun, even though there’s little wrong with their handling. The AMG 3.2 flagship with its 349bhp fed via a special gearbox is different matter altogether! That novel metal roof is brilliant and easy to use.

Right choice

V6s provide creamy power where as the ‘fours’ can feel coarse. Manuals are a matter of taste, as are special editions, such as the AMG 3.2 flagship; only 263 official RHD UK cars were offered and it’s the model that has future collectible stamped all over it. Others include the 2002 Limited Editions (7.5x17inch sports alloys, Black nappa leather interior etc) and the Special Edition, launched to mop up models. The replacement R171 is a nicer car with more rounded looks but there’s something ‘very SL’ about original SLKs.


Shabby SLKs for around a grand are commonplace and usually a liability so up the ante to £2000 minimum. Apart from AMGs, engine sizes don’t affect values much so pay £6000 for a good last-of-the-line R170 or between £8000-£12,000 for a superb AMG. R171s start from £5500 on the forecourts, maybe under £4000 elsewhere. There’s plenty around so you can be choosy.

Significant dates

SLK goes into production in 1996, UK buyers can have only the rangetopping SLK230K auto. In 2000 a facelift sees a new entry-level model, the SLK200K alongside the new range-topping SLK320, offering 163bhp and 218bhp respectively. The facelift ushers in reprofiled front and rear bumpers, body-coloured side skirts and redesigned door mirrors. At the same time, ESP control becomes standard across the range. SLK32 AMG is unleashed in 2001, while a year later the Limited Edition appears, in SLK230K and SLK320 trims with the Special Edition following two years later.

Don’t get caught out…

  • Avoid customised examples. You can spend plenty on all sorts of upgrades for your SLK, but few (if any) of them are necessary.
  • Check the roof as certain repairs can sometimes exceed a car’s real worth.
  • Rust is a major issue as the SLK was produced at a time when Mercedes’ legendary build quality was slipping. Inspect the suspension arms, etc.
  • The four-pots can become clattery and weep oil via the head gasket. Check that their superchargers are not worn out. V6 seem durable.
  • Autos aren’t as robust as earlier units; usually it’s the electronics. Other electrical glitches are brake light switches plus circuit boards can melt.

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