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OverviewDesign - Love at first sightEngines and transmissions - Geared up for powerModel range and equipment - The allure of the roadster summed up in three lettersSafety - Safety takes a front seatSLK 55 AMG - Top of its classTechnical data SLK-ClassThe bodywork and vario-roof - Expertise and skillThe chassis - Leading the packThe interior - An experience for twoThe new Mercedes-Benz sports Roadster - The SLK-Class: More power, more safety, more driving pleasure
Mar 15, 2004
The second generation of one of the most exciting and successful sports cars on the market is ready to hit the streets: Mercedes-Benz presents the new SLK-Class.
Even more alluring, more powerful and sportier than ever, the beguiling two-seater is due to celebrate its European market premiere in March 2004. Three dif-ferent engine variants are available for the new car, developing from 120 kW/163 hp to 265 kW/360 hp. The range includes – for the first time in this vehicle class – an eight-cylinder power unit from Mercedes-AMG. The V6 engine in the SLK 350, meanwhile, develops 200 kW/272 hp and delivers impressively dynamic driving pleasure.
The second generation of the Mercedes compact two-seater also boasts an exquisite overall design, several details of which take their cue from Formula 1. The SLK thus remains true to its reputation as a trendsetter and technological leader in this category of sports cars. The further developed varioroof, which transforms the roadster into a coupé in just 22 seconds, is joined on the list of standard equipment by head/thorax sidebags, adaptive front airbags and two-stage belt force limiters. The car’s chassis, steering and manual transmission have been given an even sportier edge.
Plus, Mercedes-Benz is presenting a world first, in the shape of the innovative AIRSCARF neck-level heating system. At the touch of a button AIRSCARF generates warm air, which flows out from the head restraints. This allows the SLK passengers to keep the roof down even when the outside temperatures drop and to enjoy the open-top roadster experience the whole year round. Automatic climate control, bi-xenon headlamps with cornering light function, COMAND APS and the unique seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC are among the other technical innovations offered as options for the first time in the SLK-Class. Ex-factory prices for the SLK-Class range from 33,524 to 63,974 euros.
The new Mercedes Roadster replaces a successful first-generation model enjoyed by over 308,000 delighted owners since autumn 1996. The global number one in its market segment, it serves as a symbol for the new, dynamic brand image of Mercedes-Benz.
The second generation of the SLK-Class has an even sportier edge in terms of both its design and engineering and, with its powerful engines, newly developed chassis, direct steering and precise six-speed manual transmission, delivers an even more agile driving experience. The body is 72 millimetres longer and 65 millimetres wider than the outgoing model, providing the SLK's passengers with more space and even greater comfort.
Design: sporty dynamism, with styling elements inspired by motorsport
The design of the car reflects the sporty and powerful character of the new SLK-Class. A long bonnet, flat windscreen, wide doors and a short rear represent typical roadster characteristics given extra emphasis by the new SLK. This extra forcefulness is underpinned by a 30-millimetre longer wheelbase, clear tapering of the front and rear ends and a wedge-shape silhouette.
A range of captivating details inspired by racing cars – such as the arrow-shaped nose, wing profiles in the radiator grille and the twin-tailpipe system – underline the origins of the SLK in a company which can point to an illustrious sports-car tradition.
The interior has also been completely redesigned and upgraded through the use of carefully selected materials. The design concept is distinguished by switches, buttons and trim elements with silver-coloured surfaces, which form a striking contrast to the dark tones of the dashboard. Plus, customers can choose from a range of six shades for the leather trim, or any one of twelve designo appointment colours.
The beautifully sculptured bodywork is also an achievement in terms of its technical prowess. The Cd value (0.32) is a good example, as are the rigidity of the body and the fuel tank capacity (70 litres). The Sindelfingen engineers have further optimised and perfected the technology behind the innovative varioroof, which marked the SLK out as a trendsetter on its arrival in 1996. The roof now opens and closes even more quickly and takes up even less space in the boot – thanks to the pivoting rear window. With the varioroof open, boot capacity stands at 208 litres according to the VDA method - 63 litres more than in the outgoing model. A further new feature now makes it possible to operate the varioroof by a remote control function in the car key (optional).
Safety: newly developed protection system with adaptive airbags
State-of-the-art construction processes, the increasingly large proportion of high-strength steel alloys (40 percent) and a host of other measures besides allow the new SLK-Class to leave the outgoing model in its slipstream. The occupant protection systems adjust their reactions according to the situation in hand. For example, adaptive airbags – which inflate in two stages in response to the severity of the accident – are making their debut in this model series.
The standard-fitted belt force limiters also work through two stages and adapt to the severity of the accident. In the event of a side impact, newly developed head/thorax airbags inflate to protect the head and upper body of the passengers. A special sensor also triggers the side airbags and both belt tensioners if the car rolls over. Robust steel tubes in the A-pillars and solid roll-over bars behind the seats offer additional protection in this type of accident.
Engines: up to 25 percent more power coupled with reduced fuel consumption
The range of engines available for the SLK-Class is also quite unique in this market segment. Here, Mercedes-Benz is the first manufacturer to respond to the desires of drivers with more sporting ambitions by adding an eight-cylinder powerplant to the mix. The V8 unit gives the SLK 55 AMG class-leading output (265 kW/360 hp), torque (510 Newton metres) and acceleration (0-100 km/h: 4.9 seconds) figures. The top-of-the-line engine is linked up as standard with the newly developed seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC, which the driver can choose to operate using steering-wheel gearshift buttons.
For the SLK 350, meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz has developed a new six-cylinder engine with around 25 percent more power (200 kW/272 hp) and 13 percent extra torque (350 Newton metres ). The four-valve unit is one of the most powerful V6 engines in its displacement class and reinforces its sporting credentials with a pleasing, full-throated sound.
Peak torque is available as low down as 2400 rpm and remains constant up to 5000 rpm. This provides the key to powerful acceleration and impressive mid-range sprints. The SLK 350 reaches 100 km/h from a standstill in just 5.6 seconds (with 7G-TRONIC: 5.5 seconds) and accelerates from 60 to 120 km/h in 8.7 seconds (with 7G-TRONIC: 5.1 seconds).
For the first time, Mercedes-Benz is using variable intake and exhaust camshaft adjustment in the V6 engine. This boosts output and torque, whilst also helping to save fuel. A second intake manifold, tumble flaps in the intake ducts and intelligent heat management are further technical highlights of the new six-cylinder unit. When fitted with the seven-speed automatic transmission, the new SLK 350 burns 10.1 litres of premium unleaded petrol per 100 km (NEDC combined), making it some three percent more economical than the outgoing SLK six-cylinder variant with five-speed automatic transmission, despite its significantly deeper power reserves.
The 120-kW/163-hp engine under the bonnet of the SLK 200 KOMPRESSOR is also celebrating its premiere in this Mercedes model family. The new arrival is a member of the unique TWINPULSE generation of four-cylinder engines from Mercedes-Benz, which offer further advances in terms of output, torque, smoothness and fuel consumption. The TWINPULSE system brings together various technologies, such as a supercharger, balancer shafts, an intercooler, variably adjustable camshafts and four-valve technology. This high-tech package allows the SLK 200 KOMPRESSOR to burn eight percent less fuel than the outgoing engine with the same output. NEDC combined consumption stands at 8.7 litres per 100 kilometres.
The SLK 200 KOMPRESSOR and SLK 350 are fitted as standard with a six-speed manual transmission which stands out with its short and fast shift travel and impressive precision. The proven five-speed automatic transmission is available as an option for the four-cylinder engine, whilst customers can order the new V6 model with the seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC. In keeping with the dynamic and agile character of the SLK-Class, the driver can also operate either automatic transmission using buttons on the steering wheel (optional) and select the gears manually.
The chassis for the new SLK has a sporty set-up and differs from the outgoing model with its newly developed three-link front suspension, rack-and-pinion steering and an even more effective braking system. Mercedes engineers have carried out detailed modifications to the multi-link independent rear suspension and adapted it to the larger track width. The new SLK-Class comes as standard with 16, 17 or 18-inch light-alloy wheels, depending on the model. Sports suspension with a lowered body is available as an option.
Comfort: new AIRSCARF system ensures even greater open-air driving pleasure
The new Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is an open-top motoring enthusiast's ticket to enjoying themselves more frequently, more of the time. Making its global debut, the AIRSCARF system allows you to open the varioroof in cooler weather and thus enjoy the roadster experience more often. AIRSCARF is an innovative heating system located in the seat backrests. At the touch of a button, heated air is directed out of special vents in the head restraints and acts like an invisible scarf to warm up the head and neck of the SLK passengers when out on the road.
Available as an option, this new development is unique to the new SLK. It works in three stages and is fitted with an electronic control unit which adjusts the neck-level heating according to the speed of the car and the outside temperature and regulates the blower speed in order to achieve optimum warm-air distribution in any situation.
The optional air conditioning system THERMATIC (standard in the SLK 350 and SLK 55 AMG) is another innovation designed to ensure the perfect on-board climate. For even more discerning customers, Mercedes-Benz has developed the luxury automatic climate control system THERMOTRONIC with built–in sun and pollutant sensors.
Entertainment and information are delivered to SLK passengers through the Audio 20 CD stereo system, Audio 50 APS with integrated colour display and navigation system or COMAND APS, which includes a DVD/CD player, colour screen and separate DVD drive for the navigation function. A surround-sound system with eleven speakers and 380-watt output is also available as an option in order to further optimise the in-car audio experience.