The Mercedes Benz SLK-Class 350 is powered by a 3498 cc, V6-cylinder engine which produces 272 hp @ 6000 rpm enabling the SLK 350 to accelerate from 0 - 62.5 mph in just 5.6 seconds and continue onto an electronically controlled top speed of 155 mph.
The SLK 350's V6 engine is a totally new development boasting all the qualities you look for in a powerful, free-revving sports roadster engine. It also sets the pace in terms of fuel consumption returning a realistic 26.7 mpg on a combined cycle.
We drove the SLK 350 from our Devon base to Liverpool for a wedding via our favourite Welsh ‘B’ and unclassified roads. When pottering along the unclassified roads the SLK was well mannered and as docile as any family saloon car. However, whilst making up time on ‘B’ roads the SLK transformed into a fully blown sports roadster, far more capable than the safety limits imposed by speed restrictions and common sense. We regularly drive these roads but we were particularly impressed with the aptitude that the SLK had for these demanding roads it is the perfect blend of performance and refinement. In fact we were so impressed with the SLK's performance that we decided to follow the same route home.
On 'A’ roads and Motorways it was simply a case of selecting sixth gear and cruising - with so much power on tap overtaking is easy. Overtaking on ‘A’ roads is effortless you just drop a gear or two should you need to and go but you do have to watch your terminal speed as it can soon run into treble figures.
We drove the SLK around the Lake District and there is nothing more rewarding than switching off the audio system and listening to the powerful hypnotic engine and throaty exhaust note bouncing off the surrounding stone walls as you climb through the gears.
The short-throw shift action 6-speed gearbox can be a bit notchy around town and it did become tiresome in slow moving stop/start traffic, but on the move it is superb offering light and precise gear changes. The 7G-Tronic automatic transmission is available as a £1,770 option on the 280 and 350 models.
The SLK 350 is equipped with a lightweight braking system including perforated front and solid rear discs. The front brakes are four-piston, fixed callipers, internally ventilated brake discs, perforated 330 x 28 mm and on the rear two-piston, fixed callipers, solid brake discs 290 x 10 mm.
Mercedes Benz has used an electronically controlled solenoid valve for the brake force booster which allows brake pressure to be metered with particularly high precision. Which also helps to improve the dynamics of the brake pulses emitted by the ESP (Electronic Stability Program) and Brake Assist.
The brakes work exceptionally well and make short work of shedding excess speed but in our opinion the brake pedal lacks feel and we can only assume that this is because of the 'brake-by-wire' system which is electronically controlled.How It Drove - Ride and Handling
The preceding SLK was not the best handling car on the road and unbelievably had recirculating-ball steering, which is rather agricultural by today’s standards. The new SLK is a completely different car, sharing little with the outgoing model bar the name.
Mercedes have fitted rack and pinion steering to the new SLK-Class and our test car was equipped with Parameter speed sensitive power steering (£200 option) which is variable and dependent on engine speed. At lower urban speeds; the assistance level is high for quick and easy manoeuvres. At Motorway speeds the level of assistance is reduced to enhance straight-line stability.
One of our colleagues commented that ideally they would have liked a little a bit more feedback but there is a fine balance between being too direct and uncomfortable and the SLK is more of a sophisticated roadster than an out and out track car.
Our test car was also equipped with 18" 5-spoke AMG alloy wheels - 225/40 front tyres and 245/35 rear tyres including sports suspension (£1,200 option). The sports suspension option offers a firmer suspension setup and damping settings. With the sports suspension fitted, the body is lowered by 10 mm at the front and the rear and total spring travel at both axles is shortened by 10 mm compared to the standard chassis, while the spring rates increase by as much as 10 per cent. The result is minimal body roll and exceptionally high levels of grip.
With the 18" AMG wheels and lowered suspension you certainly feel in tune with the road surface but the ride remains supple. Mercedes Benz have made an excellent job of filtering out unwanted vibrations including scuttle shake which is indicative of most convertibles, roof up or down.
This is a 17-year+ news article, from our Mercedes Benz archive, which dates back to the year 2000.
If in doubt check with your local Mercedes Benz dealer as car prices and technical data will have changed since 2005.
Although our car news is published in good faith, we cannot guarantee it to be error free or complete or up-to-date.
Mercedes Benz SLK-Class Images may not be UK specification cars. Colours and exterior and/or interior elements may differ from actual models.
The car news and images remain the copyright of the rights holder and may not be used without their consent.