Sleek, Slick SLK-Class Roadster Still Turns Heads

Mercedes Benz SLK-Class

Mercedes Benz SLK-Class (2003)

Seven years after its first appearance, the enduring appeal of Mercedes Benz's SLK-Class Roadster range remains clear to see. The popular two-seater has now sold over 21,000 units in the UK, and remains the best-selling luxury roadster on sale in Britain, eclipsing much newer competitors. SMMT data shows that 1231 new cars have been registered so far this year (year to date April) – streets ahead of its nearest counterpart.

  • Still the most popular luxury two-seat open car
  • Remarkable roof sparked a new trend in roadsters
  • Performance and looks combined perfectly

The SLK-Class caused a sensation when it was launched, thanks mainly to its remarkable vario-roof. The two-piece electro-hydraulic metal hard top gives coupé levels of comfort and security in everyday motoring, but at the touch of a button, automatically folds away into the boot to give the occupants the full wind-in-the-hair experience.

The whole process takes the five hydraulic cylinder system just 25 seconds, and is as impressive today as it was back in the mid-nineties. The roof was subjected to rigorous testing - some 20,000 operations in all kinds of temperature and humidity. These tests, the equivalent of six roof operations every day for 10 years, were passed without any problems. In fact, the SLK's amazing roof design sparked a wave of pastiches in other modern cars.

The roof, and indeed the lack of it, helps make the SLK-Class one of the most handsome sports cars on the road. ItS-Classic long bonnet, wheel at each corner stance is still an arresting sight today, and helps keep the car at the top of the style tree. It looks great in both coupé mode and when the roof is open, and the driver's view down the bonnet, with its twin bonnet bulges (reminiscent of those on the 300 SL "Gullwing" Coupé) is as alluring as ever.

continues... | Part Two
Published 14 June 2003 Melanie Carter

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