Mercedes SLK 200
Run-out Grand Edition gives coupé-cabrio a last hurrah
When it launched in early 2008, the latest SLK improved on the original’s reputation for stylish, sophisticated motoring. But two years later, the car looks dated. The Grand Edition compensates with its enhanced spec, and will appeal if performance isn’t a priority. Yet it’s not cheap once you add the desirable auto box, metallic paint and Direct Steering.
The SLK is getting a Grand send-off. With a new model due next year, Mercedes has introduced this Grand Edition of the entry SLK 200. And Auto Express was first behind the wheel of the folding hard-top pioneer.
As well as unique badges on the wings, the newcomer gets dark headlight surrounds, attractive 18-inch alloys and six silver bonnet fins, similar to those on the larger SL.
Inside, the supportive sports seats are upholstered as standard in grey Nappa leather, with contrasting red stitching. They are heated, and incorporate Mercedes’ novel Airscarf system, which blows warm air from a vent below the headrests – this is particularly welcome when driving on the motorway with the top down.
The cabin design is starting to show its age, but visibility remains good with the top up, despite the low-slung driving position. Plus, our car was easily manoeuvrable around town due to its £205 optional speed-dependent Direct Steering, which gives you more lock at lower speeds.
The SLK’s party piece is still its electro-hydraulic folding metal roof. We just wish it didn’t compromise practicality so much – with it down, load space drops from 300 litres to 208 litres, and the boot opening is narrow.
Grand Edition models are available only with the entry-level 1.8-litre supercharged four-cylinder unit. This delivers 181bhp, and is mated to a six-speed manual gearbox as standard – although our car had Mercedes’ five-ratio auto.
The unit offers good low-down response, while the ride is firm if forgiving – so the SLK is great in town. Yet the 1,390kg kerbweight and auto box conspire against it on twisting roads, where the engine is vocal. And tyre noise is an issue on the motorway.
Fold the top, and body rigidity is compromised, too – so this Mercedes is more of a cruiser than a performance car.
Rival: BMW Z4 Baby BMW also has a smooth-folding hard-top. Plus, it offers a great chassis and generous kit. And we think basic variant – the 2.5-litre xDrive 25i – is the best.