The new 2008 facelifted Mercedes Benz SLK has finally arrived in Australia bringing with it more power, improved efficiency and sharper styling.
The SLK has been a success story for Mercedes with some 310,000 first-generation roadster models sold between 1996 and 2004. And around 185,000 customers - some 60,000 of them in Germany alone - have already purchased the second-generation model since its launch in March 2004.
Mercedes designers have further honed the looks of the popular two-seater with the addition of a new-look front bumper with a modified air-dam arrangement and a more pronounced V-shape, while the area around the Mercedes star now stands out more boldly.
The designers have also remodelled the vehicle's tail, with the diffuser-look styling at the bottom, trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes along with AMG-inspired darkened tail lights. The exterior mirrors are larger and feature LED indicators with a pronounced arrow shape, while the range of light-alloy wheels is also almost entirely new.
Under the hood are range of updated and optimised engines, with the four-cylinder and V6 variants boasting more power and increased fuel efficiency.
The output of the four-cylinder supercharged engine has been boosted by 15kW (to 135kW), with torque increasing from 240Nm to 250Nm. Combined fuel consumption has dropped by 1.2 litre to 8.0 L/100 km (manual transmission). This in turn reduces CO2 emissions by 30g/km to 190g/km.
The SLK 350 features more power and torque as well as lower fuel consumption, and therefore CO2 emissions. Power is now 224kW at 6500 rpm - up 24kW. Fuel consumption has dropped by 2.3 litres to 9.5 L/100 km (automatic: -1.9 l to 9.2 L/100 km) and CO2 emissions by 54g to 227g/km (automatic: -48 g to 219g/km)
Under the bonnet of the SLK 55 AMG is the familiar 5.5-litre V8 powerplant delivering 265kW of power and 510Nm of torque.
The new four and six-cylinder models in the SLK range are available with a six-speed manual. The SLK200 can be optioned with a five-speed automatic or the seven-speed 7G-TRONIC automatic. The SLK 350 is available with the 7G-TRONIC Sport that includes shift paddles on the steering wheel while the only gearbox available with the SLK 55 AMG is the 7G-TRONIC Sport.
The Mercedes engineers have also developed a new direct-steer system with variable power assistance that is standard across the SLK range. It is said to combine agility and manoeuvrability on twisting country roads with light steering forces when parking and sure steering characteristics at high speeds. Sort of the best of both worlds really.
Changes are not just limited to the exterior and mechanicals. The interior has also benefited from a mild redesign with attention being paid to quality material selection. The major changes include a new three-spoke sports steering wheel with multifunction buttons as well as a new instrument cluster with unique-looking dial bezels.
A new "gullwing red" leather interior appointments will now be available, reminiscent of the interior appointments in the legendary 300 SL gullwing model. There is also the option of "natural beige" nappa leather appointments, which complement the new "pale burr walnut" and "black ash grain" wood trims that are available.
Mercedes-Benz is installing the new NTG 2.5 generation of audio and telematics componentry in the SLK for the first time. The switch to the new telematics generation means that for the first time, the SLK will be offered with the Mercedes Benz LINGUATRONIC voice control system.
Standard features integrated in every sound system include a hands-free facility using Bluetooth technology, plus a new media interface in the glove compartment, which enables mobile audio devices such as the iPod to be fully integrated into the audio system and operated from its control panel.
Optional on the SLK and standard on the SLK 55 AMG is a Harman Kardon® Logic7® sound system (standard on SLK 55 AMG).
The formidable SLK 55 AMG remains almost unchanged with only slight styling tweaks, including a new front apron with a black-painted transverse fin and side air outlets, as well as darkened headlamps.
The new generation SLK is now available from authorised Mercedes-Benz dealerships.
Key Facts and Pricing - 2008 SLK Range
Model Power Torque 0-100km/h Price* Available
SLK 200 Kompressor 135kW 250Nm 7.6 secs $86,780 Now
SLK 350 224kW 360Nm 5.4 secs $112,380 Now
SLK 55 AMG 265kW 510Nm 4.9 secs $164,900 Now
*Prices do not include dealer delivery and statutory charges