The sporting talent of the SLK will initially be unleashed by two engine variants: the SLK 200 is powered by a 2-litre four-cylinder engine with a power rating of 100 kW/136 hp. The SLK 230 KOMPRESSOR features a supercharged 2.3 litre engine, also a four-cylinder unit, delivering 142 kW/193 hp onto the road. In early 2000, the two-litre engine was also fitted with a belt-driven supercharger, boosting power to the rear axle to a new level of 120 kW/163 hp. The choice of engines was broadened by the arrival of two six-cylinder models, a 160 kW/218 hp unit for the SLK 320 and the 260 kW/354 hp powerhorse in the SLK 32 AMG.
Moreover, Mercedes-Benz substantially upgraded the level of equipment for its roadster and incorporated innovations such as the Electronic Stability Program (ESP®), a six-speed manual transmission and SPEEDTRONIC in its standard equipment package. In visual terms, a new design of bumper and side skirt gave the car an even more dynamic appearance. All the attachments and door handles were painted to match the vehicle body to enable the whole car to present an image of a unified whole in both colour and form. New tail lights, stainless steel trim on the exhaust tailpipe and a painted radiator grille gave the SLK design an even more commanding identity.
With its SLK-Class, Mercedes-Benz succeeded in developing a car which really exudes an air of freedom, independence and adventure. A car for the emotions. An attractive roadster with a strong character promising untrammelled joie de vivre to its owners. More than 40 international prizes and awards bear testament to the tremendous popularity of this compact roadster, a car recognised in its class as a real trendsetter and one whose technology, design and level of equipment satisfies the most demanding of aspirations:
- In 1996 Italian artists and art critics hailed the SLK as the “most beautiful car in the world”. The British “Car Magazine” praised the Mercedes roadster as the “Best technical concept” and “Bild am Sonntag” awarded it the “Golden Steering Wheel”.
- In 1997 alone, the SLK harvested no less than 20 international awards. These included the title Best of What’s New” from the American magazine “Popular Science” and the title “Import Car of The Year” from the Japanese automotive press.
- In 1998 the “American Marketing Association” declared the SLK to be the “Best New Product” and the readers of the German magazine “Auto, Motor und Sport” voted the Mercedes roadster the “Best Convertible”.
- n 1999, or almost three years since its market launch, the SLK was still winning highly prized titles: “Best Convertible”, “Best Gear 1999” and the German award of “Most Popular Convertible” to name but three.
Even the real optimists at Mercedes-Benz had not anticipated the incredibly high popularity rating of the SLK series. In the early days, the maximum annual production target was assumed to be in the region of 35,000 units, but even in 1997, almost 50,000 SLK models rolled off the assembly line. As a result, virtually one in three of all compact roadsters sold worldwide that year bore the letters SLK on the back. By the end of its time in production, more than 308,000 people had taken ownership of a new SLK Roadster.
The new SLK-Class aims to follow this successful lead, and production commences in early 2004. This new roadster will be even sportier, even more dynamic and will offer even greater levels of motoring pleasure. In doing so, it looks sure to satisfy the continually rising aspirations of drivers to own a car genuinely capable of inspiring the emotions.
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