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|Also called||Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class (from 2016)|
|Body and chassis|
Compact executive car
|Body style||2-door coupe
As one of the first modern retractable hardtop convertibles, the SLK followed the 1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder and preceded other retractable hardtops such as the Peugeot 206cc, Lexus SC, Pontiac G6 and the Chrysler Sebring. The SLK Vario-roof was first shown on the SLK II concept car at the 1994 Paris Motor Show. The car went on sale two years later in Europe, and in 1997 in the US. The SLK is built in Bremen, Germany.
The designation "SLK" derives from the company's design mission to create a roadster that was at once sporty, light and short—in German: sportlich (sport), leicht (light) und kurz (short).
From 2016, with the release of the fourth generation R173 model, the SLK-Class will be renamed to Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class as per the revised nomenclature adopted by the brand. Under this scheme, roadsters use the base name "SL", followed by the model's placement in Mercedes-Benz hierarchy. The "SL" is for sportlich leicht (German for sport light) and alludes the long-running SL-Class. This is followed by the letter "C"—the SLC being the roadster equivalent to the C-Class.
East London, South Africa
|Designer||Murat Gunak, Michael Mauer (1993)|
|Body and chassis|
|Engine||2.0 L I4
2.3 L I4 S/C
2.0 L I4 S/C
3.2 L V6
|Wheelbase||94.5 in (2,400 mm)|
|Length||1996–2000: 157.3 in (3,995 mm)
2001–04: 157.9 in (4,011 mm)
|Width||67.5 in (1,714 mm)|
|Height||1996–2000: 50.7 in (1,288 mm)
2001–04: 50.4 in (1,280 mm)
|Curb weight||3,036 lb (1,377 kg)|
At start of the 1990s, after the introduction of their two-seater grand-tourer R129 SL and the Mazda MX-5, Mercedes-Benz set out to create a new compact roadster, slotted below the SL. By late 1991 under Bruno Sacco, the first design sketches were drawn and 12 1:5 scale models being built in the first half of 1992. By the middle of the year, five of them were proposed again in full-scale. In early 1993, the final design was selected and approved by the board, with the German design patent being filed on September 30, 1993. On April 22, 1996, the new production SLK-Class, based on the R170 platform was introduced at the Turin Motor Show. SLK 230 Kompressor launch model became a competitor to the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z3. It was powered by a 193 hp 2.3 L supercharged straight-4 engine and a choice of automatic transmission or 5-speed manual transmission. The SLK was a modern incarnation of the 1950s Mercedes-Benz 190SL by returning to four cylinders and a 94-inch (2,400 mm) wheelbase. Massively successful in its first year, worldwide sales hit 55,000, over double the entire nine-year production of 190SLs, and between 1996 and 2004, over 311,000 SLKs were sold. The very first U.S.-market R170 Mercedes SLK was completed on November 1, 1996 and went on sale in January 1997 for the 1998 model year. The last was completed on April 7, 2004.
The roof design developed by Mercedes-Benz consists of a folding steel hard top which is divided in half along an axis at right angles to the direction of travel. Both halves are linked by a kinematic mechanism which is locked securely when the roof is closed. At the touch of a button on the centre console, a hydraulic system with five cylinders controls the fully automatic folding process in which the boot lid is also integrated. It opens by tipping to the rear so that the two roof halves have sufficient freedom of movement to pivot backwards as the vario-roof opens; the roof sections then position themselves one on top of the other, and disappear into the boot. If the roof is to be closed, the same sequence of movements is performed in reverse order. The hydraulic system stows the vario-roof in the upper section of the boot. A plastic roller blind separates it from the luggage space below, an area with a capacity of 145 litres in the first-generation SLK. With the vario-roof closed, the load volume increased to a substantial 348 litres (12.3 cu ft). Two fixed roll-over bars behind the seats worked with the particularly strong A-pillars to form an integrated system offering a high degree of roll-over protection.
The steel roof provides added protection, which is normally found in a coupe, but with the enjoyment of a convertible at the same time. The technology was considered advanced as its rivals still had folding cloth tops.
R170 facelift (2000)
In 1997, development on updates to the R170 began and by early 1998, design work on an updated SLK was completed and patented on February 2, 1998. In February 2000, the SLK received a facelift which included new front and rear bumper designs, body-coloured side skirts and the introduction of new wing mirrors incorporating indicators. The range was expanded to include a new entry-level model SLK 200 Kompressor and a new V6 in the SLK 320. Technical improvements included the addition of Electronic Stability Program (ESP) and a new 6-speed manual transmission. A stabilizer bar was added to the rear and the front one was reinforced. A 3.46:1 axle was added for the manual shift SLK, and the fuel tank grew from 12 to 14 gallons.[clarification needed]
In 2001 a new AMG model was added, with a 349 hp (260 kW) supercharged version of the 3.2 L V6. This SLK 32 AMG was the most powerful R170 SLK, and was a direct rival of the BMW M Roadster and Porsche Boxster S. It was only offered with the newly engineered five-gear "SpeedShift" and boasted 35% quicker automatic shifts. All engines were hand built by AMG by an individual engineer. The SLK32 AMG's engine has two spark plugs per cylinder for maximum combustion and was fitted with an intercooled Lysholm-type twin-screw supercharger. Brakes became 13.15" diameter from 11.8" standard. AMG production ran between Aug 2000 and March 2004. Only 4,333 were built in total, of which 979 were retained for Germany, 2,056 exported to the USA and 263 to the UK.
In July 2004 a Special Edition was launched prior to the replacement with the new R171 SLK in 2005. The R170 lived on as the Chrysler Crossfire until 2008, sharing substantial elements of the SLK including engines and interiors.
R170 range summary
Not all models were exported to all markets.
- SLK 200 (1996–2000) – 2.0 L (1998 cc) 136 bhp (101 kW; 138 PS) I4
- SLK 200 Kompressor (1996–2000) – 2.0 L (1998 cc) 192 bhp (143 kW; 195 PS) I4 supercharged engine, 0–60 mph in 6.9 seconds, top speed of 240 km/h (148 mph).
- SLK 200 Kompressor (2000–2004) – 2.0 L (1998 cc) 163 bhp (122 kW; 165 PS) I4 supercharged engine, 0–60 mph in 7.4 seconds, top speed of 223 km/h (138 mph).
- SLK 230 Kompressor (1996–2000) – 2.3 L (2295 cc) 193 bhp (144 kW; 196 PS) I4 supercharged engine
- SLK 230 Kompressor (2000–2004) – 2.3 L (2295 cc) 197 bhp (147 kW; 200 PS) I4 supercharged engine, 0–60 mph in 6.9 seconds, top speed of 240 km/h (148 mph).
- SLK 320 (2000–2004) – 3.2 L (3199 cc) 218 bhp (163 kW; 221 PS) V6 engine, 0–60 mph in 6.5 seconds, top speed of 245 km/h (152 mph).
- SLK 32 AMG (2001–2004) – 3.2 L (3199 cc) 349 bhp (260 kW; 354 PS) V6 engine, 0–62 mph in 5.2 seconds.
The SLK in the USA
The SLK was announced to the USA market on Sept. 7, 1997 as a 1998 model. The SLK was on Car and Driver 's Ten Best list for 1997 and was named “North American Car of the Year” by CAR & DRIVER magazine for 1998. Only in the USA sale of the SL320 (6 cylinder) was ended when the SLK arrived to distance it from the senior SL.
|Body and chassis|
|Engine||1.8 L I4
3.0 L V6
3.5 L V6
5.4 L V8
5-speed (SLK 200) 7-speed automatic
|Wheelbase||95.7 in (2,431 mm)|
|Length||4,087 mm (160.9 in)
AMG: 4,093 mm (161.1 in)
2009–2011: 161.5 in (4,102 mm)
2009–present AMG: 161.4 in (4,100 mm)
|Width||1,788 mm (70.4 in)
1,793 mm (70.6 in)
|Height||1,298 mm (51.1 in)
2004–08 AMG: 1,270 mm (50.0 in)
2009–2011 AMG: 50.7 in (1,288 mm)
|Curb weight||1,495 kg (3,296 lb)|
In 1998, development on the next SLK began and by 2000 the final design was selected drawing inspiration from the Vision SLR concepts and the concurrently in-development production variant due in 2003. The second generation SLK vehicle was unveiled in 74th Geneva Motor Show in March 2004 with a new sleeker body, new engines and new interior. Known by its code name R171, the exterior featured a new Formula One-inspired front design, and also took design cues from the Mercedes-Benz Vision SLA concept car from 2000.
Models of the new SLK include:
- SLK 200 Kompressor – 1.8 L 120 kW (163 PS; 161 hp) I4 supercharged engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 7.9 seconds, top speed of 143 mph. (not available in Canada and the United States)
- SLK 300 (known as SLK 280 in some markets) – 3.0 L (2996 cc) 170 kW (231 PS; 228 hp) double overhead cam V6 engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 6.3 seconds, top speed 155 mph. (starting in 2006 model year)
- SLK 350 – new 3.5 L (3498 cc) 200 kW (272 PS; 268 hp) double overhead cam V6 engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 5.4 seconds, top speed 155 mph (electronically limited).
- SLK 55 AMG – 5.4 L (5439 cc) 265 kW (360 PS; 355 hp) V8 engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 4.9 seconds, top speed 155 mph (249 km/h). A modified version of this model was used in Formula One as its Safety Car during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. The SLK55 AMG was also the first Mercedes tuned by AMG's Performance Studio to create the new "Black Series".
R171 facelift (2007)
In January 2008 at the Detroit Motor Show, the SLK-Class facelift was launched, following pre-show announcements in December 2007. The R171 facelift included new engines, with a particular improvement to the SLK 200 and 350 with more power and better fuel efficiency. The exterior changes were subtle, with alterations limited to the front bumper design and new wing mirrors.
- SLK 200 Kompressor – 1.8 L 135 kW (184 PS; 181 hp) I4 supercharged engine
- SLK 350 – 3.5 L (3498 cc) 224 kW (305 PS; 300 hp) DOHC V6 engine
- SLK 300 and 55 AMG retained their existing engines
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Sports car, Roadster|
|Body style||2-door retractable hardtop|
|Engine||1.8 L I4
2.1 L I4 diesel
3.5 L V6
5.5 L V8
|Wheelbase||95.7 in (2,431 mm)|
|Length||4,134 mm (162.8 in)
AMG: 4,146 mm (163.2 in)
|Width||1,810 mm (71.3 in)
1,817 mm (71.5 in)
|Height||1,301 mm (51.2 in)AMG: 1,300 mm (51.2 in)|
|Curb weight||1,435 kg (3,164 lb)|
Development on the R172 began in 2005, with the final design being selected in 2008. Mercedes-Benz announced the new SLK in the autumn of 2010, allowing car magazines to drive disguised test cars several months prior to official announcement in January 2011 and formal public launch at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2011. The company took the unusual step of issuing several press releases in October and November 2010 announcing new features such as "Magic Sky Control".
- SLK 200 BlueEFFICIENCY – 1.8 L 135 kW (184 PS; 181 hp) I4 turbocharged engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 7.3 seconds, top speed of 149 mph. (not available in Canada and the United States)
- SLK 250 – 1.8 L 150 kW (204 PS; 201 hp) I4 turbocharged engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 6.5 seconds, top speed of 152 mph.
- SLK 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY – 2.1 L 150 kW (204 PS; 201 hp) I4 turbocharged diesel engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 6.7 seconds, top speed of 152 mph. (not available in Canada and the United States)
- SLK 350 – 3.5 L 225 kW (306 PS; 302 hp) V6 engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 5.6 seconds, top speed of 155 mph (electronically limited).
- SLK 55 AMG – 5.5 L 310 kW (421 PS; 415 hp) V8 engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 4.1 seconds, top speed of 155 mph (electronically limited). In the SLK55 AMG R172 Mercedes-AMG introduced the all-new naturally aspirated 5.5 L V8 engine. This engine is based on a naturally aspirated variant of the twin-turbocharged M157 V8 engine, the M152.
In popular culture
American entrepreneur Jim Rogers and his wife, Paige Parker, drove a highly modified SLK through 116 countries between January 1, 1999 and January 5, 2002, covering 245,000 kilometers and setting a Guinness World Record. The journey is documented in his book Adventure Capitalist.
|Calendar year||US sales||European sales|
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