Ten years of the SLK-Class – a cause for celebration at Mercedes-Benz. At the "Mondial de l’automobile" fair in Paris, the company is presenting the "Edition 10" showcar, which has numerous distinguishing design features and gives the roadster a sporty and exclusive aura.
With its matt-grey metallic paint finish, the anniversary showcar is immediately distinguishable from a standard SLK sports car and illustrates a trend in the future colour styling of automobiles. The exterior also features dark-grey painted, high-sheen light-alloy wheels in a ten-spoke design, shod with wide-base tyres in size 225/45 R 17 (front) and 245/40 R 17 (rear). The wheels are also embellished with black-and-silver emblems bearing the Mercedes star. Dark-tinted rear light clusters also contribute to the exclusive appearance of the "Edition 10" showcar.
In the interior the driver and passenger are treated to a selection of fine materials. The seats and the armrest in the centre console are covered with black leather. Silver-coloured underlays beneath the centre panels of the seat cushions and backrests discreetly yet effectively accentuate the perforations in the leather. This sporty and elegant black-silver contrast is heightened further by the silver thread used for the decorative seams of the SLK sports seats. The liner of the vario-roof and the rear window surround are painted in black. Mercedes designers opted for a black trim strip on the driver’s side of the dashboard, and above the glove compartment a woven metallic structure under matt lacquer pleases the eye.
Appointments: top-class technology à la Mercedes-Benz
In the anniversary showcar, Mercedes-Benz also shows what the SLK-Class has to offer in technical terms. The showcar features the absolutely unique head-level heating system AIRSCARF, the luxury automatic climate control system THERMOTRONIC and the COMAND system with Europe-wide navigation. Other appointments from the SLK range include the PARKTRONIC parking aid, electrically adjustable seats with a memory function, a heated steering wheel and an MP3-capable CD-changer.
The long bonnet of the roadster conceals the V6-engine (170 kW/231 hp) of the SLK 280, which already delivers a meaty torque of 300 newton metres from 2400 rpm. The seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-TRONIC ideally accompanies the exemplary output and torque characteristics of the six-cylinder power unit with a rapid succession of downshifts during kick-down.
SLK anniversary: success story and trendsetter for open-top cars
The SLK-Class was first launched exactly ten years ago, and continues to be the most successful model in its market segment. With the steel vario-roof, which combines the advantages of a fixed hardtop and a folding soft top, the 1996 SLK-Class pioneered a trend towards a new generation of open-top cars whose vario-roof represents a significant advance in comfort and day-to-day practicality. Ten years after its world debut in the SLK, numerous automobile manufacturers have adopted this innovative roof technology for their convertibles and roadsters.
At the same time Mercedes-Benz opened a new chapter in convertible safety with the SLK-Class, for with its airbags, sidebags, belt tensioners, belt force limiters and effective rollover protection consisting of tube-reinforced A-pillars and rollover bars of high-strength steel, the two-seater was far superior to other open-top cars.
The new SLK-Class, which was launched in March 2004, is even sportier in nature and once again sets trends with trailblazing technology. In addition to a further development of the vario-roof, which opens even more rapidly and occupies less space in the boot thanks to a pivoting rear window, the innovative neck-level heating system AIRSC ARF celebrated its world debut in the new-generation SLK. This acts as an invisible scarf that warms the head and neck areas of the occupants. In this way the SLK-Class also guarantees open-air driving enjoyment during the colder months of the year. In other words, the patented AIRSCARF system allows SLK-owners to enjoy open-air driving longer and more frequently.
Apart from pioneering technology, design was another trademark of the SLK-Class. The design lines of the roadster launched ten years ago had an immediate emotional appeal and greatly contributed to the enormous success of the model series. The enthusiasm of both male and female drivers was so great that the entire SLK production capacity was sold out shortly after the market launch, making a considerable increase in capacity necessary.
SLK figures: 459,000 Mercedes roadsters in ten years
More than 311,000 units of the first-generation SLK-Class were produced between autumn 1996 and March 2004. More than 40 international prizes and awards demonstrate the great popularity of this compact roadster.
To date Mercedes-Benz has produced around 148 000 examples of the current SLK-Class, and is the world market leader with an average share of 30 percent. In Germany and other western European countries, around one in two newly registered sports cars in this vehicle class bear the SLK emblem. All in all, Mercedes-Benz has produced around 459,000 units of the SLK since 1996.