The latest generation of the Mercedes-Benz SLK blazes a trail of new sporty highlights, and bestows yet greater appeal on this thriving two-seater sports car with the trend-setting vario-roof that transforms it from roadster to weatherproof coupe in a matter of seconds.
The designers have honed the looks of the cult two-seater for added sportiness. Especially eye-catching is the restyled front bumper featuring modified segmentation of the air intakes and a more pronounced V-shape, while the area around the Mercedes star now stands out more boldly. The designers have also remodeled the vehicle’s tail, with the diffuser-look styling at the bottom giving the Roadster an even more powerful appearance from the rear too.
Many of the interior’s details have also undergone remodeling, and the interior has been refined as a whole by meticulous material selection. Particular care was taken to optimize the interior in such a way as to make it that much more driver-focused again. The focal point in this respect is formed by a new three-spoke sports steering wheel with multifunction controls, as well as a new instrument cluster with intriguing-looking bezels.
For the first time, Mercedes-Benz is equipping the SLK with the new NTG 2.5 generation of audio and telematics components. This boasts improved user friendliness together with even more handy functions. All audio systems come complete with a built-in hands-free facility with Bluetooth technology, plus a new media interface in the glove compartment, which enables mobile audio devices such as the iPod to be fully integrated into the audio system and operated from its control panel. The switch to the new telematics generation now sees Mercedes-Benz offering the optimized LINGUATRONIC voice control system, renowned for its outstanding operation, as an option for the SLK-Class for the first time.
Customers who wish to enjoy the ultimate acoustic experience, whether driving with the vario-roof up or down, can opt for the harman kardon® Logic7® sound system. Here, the passenger compartment is filled by a rich surround sound, delivering crystal-clear listening pleasure of unprecedented quality for a roadster.
Making a mighty contribution to the sporty billing of the 2008 generation of the SLK are three re-engineered drive units which all stand out by virtue of their lower fuel consumption, resulting in reduced CO2 emissions. Both the four-cylinder engine in the SLK 200 Kompressor and the six-cylinder sports engine in the SLK 350 benefit from a substantial increase in output and torque. Only the familiar eight-cylinder powerplant in the SLK 55 AMG remains unchanged, despite which it has lost absolutely none of its thrill and continues to be a unique selling point in the SLK segment.
The Mercedes-Benz engineers devoted particular attention to the V6 sports engine with high-revving concept, which is making its debut in the new-generation SLK. By performing a major overhaul of the engine’s mechanics, the engineers succeeded in giving the V6 unit a completely new lease of life. From an unaltered displacement of 3498 cubic centimetres it now musters 224 kW/305 hp at 6500 rpm, a whole 24 kW (33 hp) more than in the engine it replaces. Torque has been upped too (+ 10 Nm) and now peaks at 360 Nm at 4900 rpm.
This has been achieved by raising the rev speed limit to 7200 rpm, at the same time as increasing the compression ratio, fitting a new intake manifold and making extensive modifications to the valve gear.
The new engine also strikes a far more emotive-sounding note after being deliberately tuned to deliver resonant sports engine acoustics, with overrun mode producing a particularly emotion-stirring sound. When partnered by the 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission, the engine management furthermore blips the throttle automatically during downshifts – not only does this create a very sporty soundtrack, it helps to limit load-alteration effects too.
Yet despite its higher power output and such high-calibre performance, fuel consumption in the SLK 350 has been cut by a sizeable margin. In conjunction with the six-speed manual transmission, it now burns just 9.5 litres of fuel per 100 km on the combined cycle, meaning that consumption has been reduced by a remarkable 1.1 litres per 100 km. When coupled to the 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission, the sports engine limits itself to a mere 9.2 litres for every 100 km on the combined cycle, 0.9 litres less than previously. The cut in fuel consumption lowers CO2 emissions by 23 g/km to 219 g/km on the automatic model (manual transmission: 227 g/km, a reduction of 28 g/km).
Following the facelift, the engine line-up for the second generation of the successful SLK-Class will comprise three further variants:
– The four-cylinder supercharged engine delivers an extra 15 kW/21 hp of output (135 kW/184 hp), with torque increasing from 240 to 250 Newton metres. Combined fuel consumption has dropped by 1.0 litre to 7.7 l/100 km. This in turn reduces CO2 emissions by 27 g /km to 182 g/km.
-The SLK 280 has likewise been optimized for lower fuel consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions. Fuel consumption has dropped by 0.4 litres to 9.3 l/100 km (automatic: -0.2 l to 9.1 l/100 km) and CO2 emissions by 11 g to 220 g/km (automatic: -6 g to 216 g/km)
-At work under the hood of the SLK 55 AMG is the familiar 5.5-litre V8 powerplant delivering 265 kW/360 hp and 510 Nm of torque.
The three new models in the SLK range all come with a precision six-speed manual gearshift. The SLK 55 AMG retains the 7G-TRONIC Sport seven-speed automatic transmission. The SLK 200 can be specified with an optional five-speed automatic, while the two V6 models – the SLK 280 and SLK 350 sports engine – offer the option of the 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission, or alternatively the 7G-TRONIC Sport with shift paddles on the steering wheel.
A newly developed direct-steer system with variable power assistance that elicits the very best from the suspension’s sporty capabilities is optionally available (standard on SLK AMG 55). It combines agility and maneuverability on twisting country roads with low steering forces when parking and sure steering characteristics at high speeds.
The direct-steer system is derived from the previous speed-sensitive power steering and operates purely mechanically. This dispenses with the need for sophisticated actuator units and complex sensors, which interfere with the direct flow of power between wheel and hand and therefore have a detrimental effect on steering precision. At the heart of the system is a new rack with ingeniously devised toothing, that is designed to alter the steering gear ratio as the steering angle changes. Around the central position, the steering has an indirect ratio for good straight-line stability, resulting in excellent safety at high speeds. As soon as the steering wheel is turned to an angle of 5 degrees, the ratio increases rapidly and the steering feels far more direct. In this way, the number of steering wheel turns from lock to lock is reduced by around 25 per cent with the new direct-steer system. Consequently, relatively small turns of the steering wheel are sufficient for changing course when driving in city traffic. Meanwhile, high-speed twisty sections of country roads can be negotiated safely, precisely and with enormous pleasure using relatively small steering movements, all in almost intuitive fashion.