Mercedes SLK 200
Latest coupé-cabrio has more all-round appeal than ever
The SLK 200 is likely to be the best-seller in the range, and we can see why. It’s a head-turner thanks to its SLS-inspired nose and sleek tail, and is now more of an all-rounder – the handling is sharp and the cabin stylish, although keen drivers will still be better off with a BMW Z4. The AMG sports suspension is a little unyielding on rough roads too; optional electronic dampers cure this, though.
Summer is here, and with it comes an all-new generation of Mercedes’ ever-popular SLK.
The latest sports car promises to be more stylish, more sporty and more economical than ever before, but can the most basic version – the entry-level SLK 200 model – impress on UK roads?
Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Mercedes SLK
Power comes from a 1.8-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine delivering 181bhp, and our car was equipped with the optional 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic transmission. It’s a combination that is good for 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds and fuel economy of 46.3mpg.
Despite being the cheapest model in the range, the SLK 200 feels punchy and smooth, and it should be sufficient for most people. Those looking for more power can choose the 201bhp SLK 250 or the V6 SLK 350, which gives 302bhp. A diesel-powered SLK fitted with a 201bhp 2.2-litre engine arrives later in the year.
Our 1.8-litre model has the ability to cruise around town quietly or, under heavy throttle loads, delivers a rorty soundtrack into the cabin, allowing drivers to savour the best of both worlds.
With the roof down, the aural appeal is even greater, and the Airguide draught stop device – which swings into place from behind the driver and passenger seats – keeps wind buffeting to a minimum.
The interior is top-notch, with fantastic build quality and features lifted from the SLS AMG supercar – including some of the switchgear and the jet-turbine air vents. These add a real sense of occasion. There’s plenty of space for driver and passenger, too, as the newcomer’s body is 33mm longer and 31mm wider than the model it replaces.
Our only gripe is that the firm ride is at odds with the quiet and luxurious cabin – although this is probably down to the stiffer sports suspension fitted to the car we drove. The upside is tight handling which, combined with a revised ESP system that adds torque vectoring, allows the SLK to resist understeer really well.
The dynamic handling package – a £1,010 extra that includes continuously variable dampers – provides the best mix of comfort and agility. There is always the option of standard springs, but models fitted with these put the emphasis on comfort, and may be too soft for keen drivers.
Overall, it's the steering that lets the SLK down as it lacks feedback. A BMW Z4 is more involving but also manages to be comfortable at the same time, and would still be our choice.