Performance, ride and handling

The entry-level SLK200 CGI is powered by Mercedes’ ubiquitous turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder CGI (Charged Gasoline Injection) engine. It pumps out a maximum power of 184bhp and a very useable 270Nm of torque. The latter peaks at between 1900rpm and 4600rpm.

The four-pot can feel a tad lazy when moving off the line but it certainly has the ability to gain momentum quickly once the SLK is rolling along. It is in the mid-range though, where the motor performs its best as it can feel a tad breathless as the rev counter nears 6000rpm. A free revver, this engine is definitely not. Mercedes quotes a reasonable 0-100km/h time of 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 240km/h for the SLK200, which is six-tenths of a second quicker off the line than the old supercharged SLK200 Kompressor but more than a second slower than the rather sprightly and lightweight Audi TT Roadster 2.0 TFSI.

Whist the motor delivers sufficient mid-range urge, a big bugbear of the four-pot unit is the noise it makes. Mercedes somehow hasn’t managed to tune the acoustics of this commonly used engine properly for a sporty roadster application, which is hugely disappointing to say the least. The turbo lump sounds clattery like a diesel during idling or at low speeds while the motor will whizz and whine uninspiringly as if out of breath at higher speeds and revs. Those who are in need of a more inspiring engine note from their SLKs should go straight for the V6 SLK350 instead, which ought to have a smoother revving engine that should sound sportier.

The motor sends its power to the rear wheels via Mercedes’ 7G-TRONIC torque converter seven-speed automatic transmission. With seven ratios to play with, there is a nice range of gears to maximise performance and improve fuel economy but the gearbox can hardly be described as responsive to requests by the driver to kiskdown to a lower gear. A ‘+/-‘ manual selection mode with steering mounted gearshift paddles is a standard feature of the gearbox.

There is an agile and light-footed feeling in the SLK’s handling. Initial turn-in might be a bit slow, but wind up the speed and the steering responds remarkably well to driver inputs. The chassis has reserves of grip too. The SLK’s nose will run wide if you push too hard in corners. Give the accelerator a hard shove though and it might just wag its tail out a tad before the standard fit ESP cuts in to stop the fun.

The SLK soaks in bumps remarkably well for a topless roadster. A stiff body shell helps too – there is hardly any scuttle shake when going over potholes of bumps at speed. With the roof down, the cabin doesn’t suffer from much wind buffeting and hence, conversations with the passengers can be had at normal volume.

 


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Engine

Engine Capacity 1796cc Supercharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Compression Ratio 9.5:1
Bore x Stroke (82.0 x 85.0)mm
Power 184bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 250Nm @ 2800rpm
Power to Weight 132.4 bhp per ton

Performance

Acceleration 7.9s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 232 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 14.1 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 7 -speed 7G-TRONIC
Drive Type R4

Measurements

Body Type Cabriolet
Dimension
(L x W x H)
(4103 x 1777 x 1296) mm
Wheelbase 2430 mm
Turning Circle 5.25 metres
Kerb Weight 1390 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity 70 L

Brakes

Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs