Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class (R170)

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Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class (R170)
Mercedes SLK 200 K Facelift 20090919 front.jpg
Manufacturer Daimler-Benz (1996-1998)
DaimlerChrysler (1999-2007)
Production 1996 - 2004
Assembly Bremen, Germany
East London, South Africa
Designer Michael Mauer (1993)
Murat Günak (1993)
Body and chassis
Class Sport compact
Body style 2-door retractable hardtop
Layout FR layout
Related Chrysler Crossfire
Mercedes-Benz W202
Engine M111.946 2.0L L4
M111.943 supercharged 2.0L L4
M111.958 supercharged 2.0L L4
M111.973 supercharged 2.3L L4
M111.983 supercharged 2.3L L4
M112 E32 3.2L V6
M112 C32 supercharged 3.2L V6
Transmission 5-speed manual (Getrag)
6-speed manual (Getrag)
5G-Tronic automatic (Mercedes)
Wheelbase 2400 mm (94.5 in)
Length 3995 mm (157.3 in)
Width 1715 mm (67.5 in)
Height 1289 mm (50.7 in)
Curb weight 1195-1480 kg (2634-3263 lbs)
Successor Mercedes-Benz R171

The Mercedes-Benz R170 SLK-Class was the first generation of compact luxury roadsters produced by Mercedes-Benz between 1996 and 2004. SLK stands for the company’s design mission to create a sportlich (sporty), leicht (light) and kurz (compact) roadster, and is based on a shortened platform of the W202 Mercedes C-Class. It was replaced by the Mercedes R171 SLK in 2005.

Development and Launch[edit]

Mercedes SLK II Concept.

The SLK I Concept was introduced at the Turin Motor Show in Spring of 1994. The SLK I Concept was a near-production two-seater roadster concept car, with design cues inspired by the W196S 300SLR and R129 Mercedes SL-Class. The SLK I Concept was based on a custom platform, and featured a silver exterior and carbon fibre interior, but did not feature a roof.

The SLK II Concept was introduced at the Paris Motor Show a few months after, based off the SLK I Concept, now featuring a folding metal electro-hydraulic roof, dubbed 'vario-roof' by Mercedes, which took 25 seconds to operate. Other changes included a leather interior, roll-bars, and a blue exterior, in tribute to traditional French racing cars.[1]

The R170 Mercedes SLK was designed by Murat Günak and Michael Mauer. The final design was approved, and a German design patent was filed on 30 September 1993. The final production version of the SLK was introduced at the Turin Motor Show on 22 April 1996.


Hardtop roof in operation.

The R170 Mercedes SLK is based off the W202 C-Class platform, sharing many drivetrain and chassis components, as well as using a shortened version of the W202 C-Class’ floor pan. The wheelbase of the R170 Mercedes SLK is identical to the wheelbase of the 190SL and 300SL, at 2400 mm (94.5 in). The platform of the R170 Mercedes SLK is also used by the Chrysler Crossfire, which shares 80% of its components with the car. After the introduction of the next generation R171 Mercedes SLK, the R170 platform was used solely by Chrysler.

Hardtop Roof[edit]

The folding metal hardtop roof of the R170 Mercedes SLK is operated through five slave cylinders operated by a hydraulic pump. It takes 25 seconds to raise or lower, and allows 145 litres (5.1 cu ft) of trunk space with the roof lowered, and 348 litres (12.3 cu ft) with the roof up.

The complexity and compact nature of the folding metal hardtop roof led DaimlerBenz and Porsche to found Car Top Systems Fahrzeugdachsystem GmbH, which develops and manufactures the roof systems found in convertibles and roadsters, including the SLK. The company was sold to Magna International in 2005.

Models and Specifications[edit]

In its lifetime, there were five different R170 Mercedes SLK models. All models were initially available with a Getrag five-speed manual transmission, which was later replaced with a six-speed manual transmission in 2001, or with the optional 5G-Tronic five-speed automatic transmission. The SLK200 came with 15” seven-spoke alloy wheels, whilst supercharged models came with 16” seven spoke alloys.

SLK200 (1996-2000)[edit]

The SLK200 was one of the initially available models and is powered by Mercedes’ M111.946. The SLK200 was replaced by the SLK200 Kompressor in 2000.

SLK200 Kompressor (1996-2004)[edit]

The SLK200 Kompressor was initially exported and sold to Italy, The Netherlands, Portugal, Turkey, and Greece only (between 1996-2000), and was only available with the Getrag five-speed manual transmission however in some countries it was also sold with automatic gearbox. After the 2000 facelift, the SLK200 Kompressor was introduced to the worldwide market, replacing the SLK200.

SLK230 Kompressor (1996-2004)[edit]

The SLK230 Kompressor was available from launch, and is powered by a 2.3L supercharged straight-four engine. During development, the SLK230 Kompressor was initially going to be powered by a 2.8L straight-six engine from the Mercedes C280 (M104.94X). However, due to concerns that the heavier engine would disrupt handling, the straight-four engine was supercharged, producing an identical 141 kW (190 hp). In the 2000 facelift, the SLK230 received a modest power bump, producing 144 kW (194 hp).

SLK320 (2000-2004)[edit]

The SLK320 was introduced in the 2000 facelift, addressing earlier complaints that the SLK lineup was too slow. The SLK320 featured Mercedes’ M112 E32 3.2L V6 engine producing 162 kW (218 hp), and had larger front brakes, as well as a stainless steel exhaust system.[2]

SLK32 AMG (2001-2004)[edit]

The SLK32 AMG was introduced in 2001, designed to rival the BMW M Roadster and Porsche Boxster S. The car featured the same M112 engine as in the SLK320, but has a helical twin-screw supercharger and water-to-air intercooler. Each M112 C32 engine in the SLK32 AMG is handbuilt by an individual AMG engineer.

The SLK32 AMG also introduced Mercedes’ new ‘SpeedShift’ feature in its 5G-Tronic (automatic) transmission. ‘SpeedShift’ transmissions allow for manual shifting of the gears, automatic downshifts before overtaking, and 35% faster automatic shifts. No manual transmission option was available for the SLK32 AMG.

The SLK32 AMG features a more angular steering wheel, AMG instrument dials, an updated front and rear bumper with larger air intakes, and larger brakes; from 11.8 in (300 mm), uprated to 13.15 in (334 mm) in diameter. SLK32 production started from January 2001, to March 2004. A total of 4,333 were produced; 979 were sent to Germany, 2,056 were imported to the US, and 263 to the UK.


Model Years Engine Power Torque
SLK200 1996-2000 M111.946 2.0L L4 100 kW (134hp) @5000rpm 190Nm (140 ft·lb) @3700-4500rpm
SLK200 Kompressor 1996-2000 M111.943 supercharged 2.0L L4 141 kW (189 hp) @5300rpm 270 Nm (199 ft·lb) @2500-4800rpm
2000-2004 M111.958 supercharged 2.0L L4 120 kW (161 hp) @5300rpm 230 Nm (180ft·lb) @2500-4800rpm
SLK230 Kompressor 1996-2000 M111.973 supercharged 2.3L L4 142 kW (190 hp) @5300rpm 280 Nm (206 ft·lb) @2500-4800rpm
2000-2004 M111.983 supercharged 2.3L L4 145 kW (194 hp) @5500rpm 280 Nm (206 ft·lb) @2500rpm
SLK320 2000-2004 M112 E32 3.2L V6 160 kW (215 hp) @5700rpm 310 Nm (229 ft·lb) @3000-4600rpm
SLK32 AMG 2001-2004 M112 C32 supercharged 3.2L V6 260 kW (349 hp) 450 Nm (332 lb·ft)

Pre-facelift SLK200 Kompressor models were only sold in Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Greece.


Model Years 0-60* Top Speed Weight
SLK200 1996-2000 8.9s (9.3) 206 km/h (128 mph) 1195 kg (2634 lbs)
SLK200 Kompressor 1996-2000 7.4s (N/A) 231 km/h (144 mph) 1250 kg (2756 lbs)
2000-2004 7.9s (7.9s) 222 km/h (138 mph) 1290 kg (2844 lbs)
SLK230 Kompressor 1996-2000 7.1s (7.0s) 231 km/h (144 mph) 1250 kg (2756 lbs)
2000-2004 6.9s (7.0s) 240 km/h (149 mph) 1310 kg (2932 lbs)
SLK320 2000-2004 6.6s (6.6s) 245 km/h (152 mph) 1330 kg (2932 lbs)
SLK 32 AMG 2001-2004 N/A (4.8s) 280 km/h (174 mph) 1480 kg (3263 lbs)

*Figures in brackets are for automatic transmission models.
Pre-facelift SLK200 Kompressor models were only sold in Italy, Portugal, Turkey, and Greece.

Special Edition Models[edit]

SLK230 Kompressor Mille Miglia Edition 1997[edit]

A limited production run of 40 ‘brilliant silver metallic’ SLK230 Kompressor models (of which, 15 were for Germany). Differences include a red ‘1000 Miglia’ logo on the front fender and trunk, and red ‘1000 Miglia’ floor mats.

SLK230 Limited Edition[edit]

Introduced in December 1999, it was only available with a ‘Obsidian Black’ exterior, and Oyster or Charcoal (black) interior. Differences include polished stainless steel exhaust tips, limited edition floor mats, and badge. Includes a CD Changer and Digital Cellular Telephone as standard, as well as unique 17” six-spoke wheels.

SLK230 Designo Copper[edit]

Introduced and only for the 2000 model year, only 26 were imported to the US with a handful remaining in Europe. Two variations were available during the year. The first, pre-facelift, saw the standard front and rear bumper and no side-skirt with a black "strip" around the entire lower portion of the car (as with previous R170s). Approximately, midway through the production year, the R170 received a "facelift" introducing sport front and rear bumpers along with AMG-style rocker panels, matching the body color. The Designo Coppers came with orange and black leather seats embossed with "designo", orange and black leather-wrapped steering wheel, orange leather-wrapped console trim parts and orange leather-wrapped rollbars.

SLK320 Mille Miglia Edition 2002[edit]

A limited production run of 12 facelift SLK320 models, produced between April and May 2002. Differences include a chrome plated grill, ‘1000 Miglia’ logo on the front fender, trunk, and floor mats, and a wooden trim steering wheel.

2004 SLK Final Edition[edit]

Available in several unique models; the SLK230 Kompressor Final Edition model featured brushed aluminium trim, while the SLK320 Final Edition had a calyptus trim interior. Differences include nappa leather seats and roll bars, a rear spoiler, exterior chrome accents, and a silver painted grill.

Model Changes[edit]

Yearly Changes[edit]

Year Changes
1997 Models built after 1 August 1997 feature a fixed mast antenna, instead of the original hidden bumper antenna, due to customer complaints of poor radio reception.
1998 Mercedes 'BabySmart' technology is introduced- where the passenger airbag will automatically deactivate when it detects a Mercedes-branded child seat in the passenger seat.
The SLK200 is introduced to the Australian market.
1999 Storage net, automatic-dimming rear view mirrors, and anti-tow away feature (where the car’s alarm will go off when it detects motion whilst parked), added.
Manual transmission now available in the US, alongside an optional AMG bodykit.
2000 Facelift (see below).
2001 A standard six-speed manual transmission was introduced, replacing the Getrag five-speed manual transmission.

2000 Facelift[edit]

Development on the facelift started in 1997, and the design for the facelifted R170 Mercedes SLK was patented on 2 February 1998.[3] R170 Mercedes SLK models produced after February 2000 were facelift models.

Facelift models featured a redesigned front and rear bumper with rounded fog lights, a silver painted grill (instead of black), body-colour painted side-skirts and door handles, indicators now integrated into the wing mirrors, a restyled steering wheel, and the position for the trunk latch release was moved from the right side of the trunk, to above the license plate. Newly designed sport seats with better support were added in facelift models, after initial customer complaints that the original seats were too uncomfortable.

The size of the fuel tank was also increased from 45 litres (12 gallons) to 53 litres (14 gallons), and models now featured Electronic Stability Control. The SLK200 Kompressor was introduced to the worldwide market, replacing the SLK200; the SLK230 Kompressor was given a slight power increase, and the SLK320 was introduced to address initial power complaints.


In its first year, worldwide sales reached 55,000. US sales began in March 1997, with the first R170 Mercedes SLK produced on 1 November 1996. The last R170 Mercedes SLK was completed on 7 April 2004. The SLK was built in Bremen, Germany, however SLK320 models were built in East London, South Africa.

Production Units[4][edit]

Model Production Date Production Units*
SLK200 7/1996 - 1/2000 30,918 (13,928)
SLK200 Kompressor* 8/1996 - 1/2000 12,353 (N/A)
SLK200 Kompressor (Facelift) 2/2000 - 4/2004 28,199 (85,321)
SLK230 Kompressor 7/1996 - 1/2000 21,878 (33,571)
SLK 230 Kompressor (Facelift) 2/2000 - 4/2004 10,318 (36,987)
SLK320 2/2000 - 4/2004 4,562 (28,854)
SLK32 AMG 1/2001 - 3/2004 N/A (4,333)
Total 119,921 (191,301)
Grand Total 383,222

*Figures in brackets are for automatic transmission models.


The R170 Mercedes SLK was on Car and Driver’s Ten Best list for 1997.
Named ‘North American Car of the Year’ by Car and Driver Magazfine for 1998.

Around the world in 1101 days[edit]

American businessman Jim Rogers and his wife, drove through 116 countries in a highly modified yellow Mercedes SLK230, between 1 January 1999 (starting in Iceland) through to 5 January 2002 (ending in New York City), covering 245,000 kilometers (152,236 miles), and setting a Guinness World Record. The journey is documented in his book Adventure Capitalist.[5]


On 15 July 2002, 27,863 vehicles were affected by campaign ID number: 02V152000[6]. Certain passenger vehicles failed to comply with the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 108. "Lamps, Reflective Devices, and Associated Equipment."

On 12 September 2006, Mercedes-Benz recalled 69,278 Mercedes-Benz SLK320 campaign recall number: 05V505000[7]. On certain passenger vehicles, failure of one of the side brake lights can occur. the base of the socket can be subject to thermal deformation over time.


  1. ^ "SLK Concept Cars - a new vision for the modern roadster". Retrieved 18 July 2017. 
  2. ^ "Mercedes Benz SLK Class Design and Technical Evolution Through the Years 1997 – 2011 with Market Value Analysis". Retrieved 18 July 2017. 
  3. ^ "Design number: m9800873-0001". Retrieved 18 July 2017. 
  4. ^ "Production Numbers R170". Retrieved 18 July 2017. 
  5. ^ "Around the world in 1,101 days". Retrieved 18 July 2017. 
  6. ^ "2001 Mercedes Benz SLK Class Recalls". Retrieved 6 September 2017. 
  7. ^ "Recall 05V505000". Retrieved 6 September 2017. 
  • Long, Brian (2014). Mercedes-Benz SLK R170 Series 1996–2004. Dorchester, Dorset, UK: Veloce Publishing. ISBN 9781845846510. 
  • Larimer, Fred (2004). Mercedes-Benz Buyer's Guide. Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA: Motorbooks International. ISBN 0-7603-1811-5.