Mercedes SLK 250

19 Oct, 2010 6:11pm Carsten Paulun

Early version of new cabrio on road


On the basis of this early drive, Mercedes has really moved the SLK on. It keeps the current car’s best attributes – a neat roof, compact dimensions and great comfort – but adds a healthy dose of fun that was missing before. New engines promise to be punchy yet efficient, too. We’ll have to reserve judgement until we try the showroom-ready model in the coming weeks, but this new drop-top clearly has a great deal of potential.

The lid is slowly being lifted on Mercedes’ new SLK – and Auto Express got exclusive access to a pre-production version to see how it’s shaping up.

Set to arrive in dealers next spring, the model has an array of updates to boost driver appeal, as well as increase luxury and make it cheaper to run.

Although this development prototype wears some disguise, its proportions are clearly very similar to the current model’s. Hiding underneath that cladding is Mercedes’ new grille at the front, with LED running lights in the lower splitter.

As well as a new body, there are widened front and rear tracks for greater stability, plus optional adaptive dampers. On the move, the changes have clearly been successful. There’s more grip, and it rides comfortably, too – although we’ll have to drive the finished car on UK roads to see if it’s better than the BMW Z4.

Our SLK 250 benefited from a new 1.8-litre supercharged unit with 204bhp and 310Nm of torque, hooked up to a seven-speed auto gearbox. It sounds fantastic, and with 20bhp and 60Nm more than the previous model, it’s faster, too.

What’s more, thanks to regenerative brakes and other BlueEfficiency eco tweaks, Mercedes claims the SLK emits less than 150g/km of CO2.

Also available is a 204bhp diesel, in the SLK 250 CDI. The car’s roof also boasts Magic Sky Control glass, which changes between blacked out and see-through at the touch of a button.

Rival: BMW Z4
Folding hard-top roadster blends distinctive looks with strong performance and great handling. Image is peerless, too.

Key specs

* Price: £32,000 (est)
* Engine: 1.8-litre 4cyl supercharged, 204bhp
* Transmission: Seven-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
* Top speed: 150mph (est)
* 0-62mph: 7.5 seconds (est)
* Economy: 38mpg (est)
* CO2: 150g/km (est)
* Equipment: Electric folding roof with Magic Sky Control glass, electric windows, leather upholstery, alloy wheels, iPod compatible stereo
* On sale: March