The new-generation SLK: More powerful, more economical, more intense: rediscovering intelligent roadster driving enjoyment

  • Striking new front end and diffuser-style rear end
  • New economical fast-running sports engine
  • Newly developed direct-steer system for agility and comfort
The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Roadsters have long captured the hearts of sports car enthusiasts. Incorporating around 650 newly developed components, the SLK models of 2008 are even more dynamic and now offer an even more emotionally charged driving experience.
Since their first appearance in 1996, the compact SLK Roadsters have come to symbolise the dynamic Mercedes-Benz brand image. Already a familiar sight on our roads, the second-generation two-seater is to be further enhanced with the implementation of a raft of measures in 2008, the aim being to further emphasise the car's sporty character and continue the SLK-Class success story by introducing new, dynamic, powerful elements. Some 310,000 first-generation roadster models were sold between 1996 and 2004. And around 185,000 customers – some 60,000 of them in Germanyalone – have already purchased the second-generation model since its launch in March 2004 (figures at year-end 2007). This means that total unit sales of the SLK Roadster are now approaching the half-million mark.
The new-generation SLK displays new sporty highlights, further enhancing the appeal of the successful two-seater with the trendsetting vario-roof that transforms the car from a roadster into a weatherproof coupé in a matter of seconds.
Distinctive character: even more pronounced arrow shape at the front end and a diffuser-style rear end
The designers have given the already dynamic-looking two-seater cult model an even sportier appearance. Eye-catching features include the new-look front bumper with a modified air-dam arrangement and a more pronounced arrow shape. Plus the area around the Mercedes star has been restyled to render it even more succinct. In addition, the designers have modified the rear end by introducing a diffuser-style lower section that makes the Roadster appear more powerful when viewed from behind – an effect that is enhanced considerably by the trapezoidal exhaust tailpipes and the AMG-inspired darkened tail lights. The now larger exterior mirrors feature LED indicators with a pronounced arrow shape, while the range of light-alloy wheels is also almost entirely new.
High-quality cockpit and new three-spoke sports steering wheel
Many of the interior details have also been redesigned and upgraded following a careful process of material selection. Particular importance was attached to optimising the interior so as to make it even more driver-oriented. Centrepieces include a new three-spoke sports steering wheel with multifunction buttons and a new instrument cluster with captivating dial surrounds.
New "gullwing red" leather appointments will be available – reminiscent of the interior appointments in the legendary 300 SL gullwing model. Further new additions include nappa leather appointments in "natural beige", which complement the new "pale burr walnut" and "black ash grain" wood trims perfectly.
Enhanced audio and telematics systems
Mercedes-Benz is installing the new NTG 2.5 audio and telematics generation in the SLK for the first time. It is easier to operate and offers an even wider range of useful functions. Standard features integrated in every radio include a hands-free system with Bluetooth technology and a new media interface in the glove compartment, allowing the full integration of mobile audio devices such as an iPod, which can then be operated via the audio system's user interface.
Together with the new telematics generation, Mercedes-Benz is also offering the easy-to-use, enhanced LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system as an optional extra in the SLK-Class for the first time.
Voluminous surround sound even when the roof is open
Passengers can enjoy a unique listening experience, regardless of whether the vario-roof is open or closed, thanks to the optionally available harman kardon® Logic7® sound system. Rich and voluminous surround sound makes for crystal-clear listening pleasure, the like of which has never before been associated with
a roadster.
Fast-running sports engine: higher output and much lower fuel consumption
The sporty credentials of the 2008 SLK generation are further enhanced by three modified powerplants that consume less fuel and, therefore, emit less CO2. The four-cylinder powerplant in the SLK 200 KOMPRESSOR and the six-cylinder sports engine in the SLK 350 offer substantially more power and torque. Only the SLK 55 AMG retains its familiar engine – an eight-cylinder unit that has lost none of its mesmerising performance capability and remains a unique selling point in the SLK segment.
The Mercedes-Benz engineers paid special attention to the fast-running V6 engine that makes its debut in the SLK 350. They were looking for much more than minor enhancements, substantially pepping up the six-cylinder unit's credentials by making sweeping changes to the mechanical setup. Three characteristics add a new dimension in driving enjoyment:
  • High-revving flexibility through to high engine speeds,
  • substantial increase in output
  • and a sporty sound that fires emotions.
Up to 7200 revs per minute
The 3.5-litre engine effortlessly laps up engine speeds normally well out of bounds for series-production engines of this displacement class. Its rated output is reached at 6500 rpm – if necessary, it is even capable of peaking briefly at 7200 rpm. This outstanding high-revving flexibility turns the six-cylinder unit into a thoroughbred sports engine.
Its sporty pedigree is clearly noticeable behind the wheel. The engine is always responsive, comes across as bigger, more powerful than its predecessor and instantly responds to movements of the accelerator pedal, conjuring up a touch of racing track atmosphere in the cockpit without appearing stressed or agitated. Quite the contrary: the comfortable running characteristics are fully retained whatever the operating conditions.
Output increased by 24 kW/33 hp with around a litre less fuel consumption
The increase in output courtesy of the enhancements adds to the decidedly sporty feel. Although the displacement remains the same at 3498 cc, the V6 now develops 224 kW/305 hp – some 24 kW (33 hp) more than its predecessor. The peak torque has also been boosted, by 10 Nm, and now stands at 360 Nm when the engine is running at 4900 rpm. From as low as 2000 rpm it develops 350 Nm, delivering impressive pulling power and outstanding performance. The SLK 350 accelerates from zero to 100 km/h in 5.4 seconds, reaching a top speed of 250 km/h (electronically limited).
Despite the higher output and high-calibre performance, the SLK 350 sports engine consumes considerably less fuel. With the six-speed manual transmission on board, combined fuel consumption is 9.5 litres per 100 km, a reduction of 1.1 litres per 100 km; if the 7G-TRONIC automatic transmission is fitted, the sports powerplant returns a combined fuel consumption of 9.2 litres per 100 km – an improvement of 0.9 litres compared to its predecessor. Lower fuel consumption means that CO2 emissions are also reduced – by 23 g/km to 219 g/km in the automatic version and by 28 g/km to 227 g/km in the manual version.
The sports engine in the SLK 350 is based on the existing V6 unit but features a range of modified components. Key modifications include:
  • Enhanced, weight-optimised pistons with a curved surface and a higher compression ratio of 1:11.7 (previously 1:10.7) ensure optimised efficiency.
  • Single-stage intake manifold with no flaps ensures a high charge even at high engine speeds.
  • To address the fundamental limitations of the single-stage intake manifold at engine speeds below 4000 rpm, the camshaft position has been advanced by 5 degrees of crank-angle both on the intake and exhaust sides. The high running quality has thus been retained both at idle speed and under partial load.
  • Lightweight valves made out of ultra-high-strength and high-temperature-resistant steel. The sodium-cooled valve stems for the exhaust valves have a 3.4-mm bore.
  • Conical springs with heavily dampened natural vibration characteristics reliably close the valves even at high engine speeds.
  • A tri-oval chain sprocket whose triangular form is barely noticeable effectively counteracts chain-drive vibration that tends to increase at engine speeds above 6300 rpm. The chain sprocket generates inversely phased amplitudes, thus reducing chain vibration and, in turn, the forces acting on the chain.
Thanks to the new engine management system, the sports unit continues to use 95-octane premium petrol despite the higher engine speeds and output.
Emotive sound design underlines high-performance credentials
Further aspects which add to the emotionally charged appeal of the new engine include deliberately powerful sports-engine acoustics with a strikingly emotive sound design when decelerating. In combination with the 7G‑TRONIC automatic transmission, the engine management system also blips the throttle automatically during downshifts. As well as producing an extremely sporty sound, this throttle-blipping function reduces load alteration effects.
Three further engines to choose from
The engine line-up for the second generation of the successful SLK-Class is being augmented by three further variants after the facelift:
· The four-cylinder supercharged engine produces an extra 15 kW/21 hp output (135 kW/184 hp) thanks to the use of a modified engine management system, a more dynamic turbocharger and enhanced pistons. At the same time, maximum torque has been increased from the previous 240 to 250 Nm between 2800 and 5000 rpm. The SLK 200 KOMPRESSOR accelerates from 0‑100 km/h in 7.6 s (7.9 s automatic transmission) and reaches a top speed of 236 km/h (automatic transmission 232 km/h). Combined fuel consumption has been cut by 1.0 litre to 7.7 litres per 100 km (with automatic transmission by 1.0 litre to 8.0 l) whilst CO2 emissions have been reduced by 27 g /km to 182 g/km for vehicles fitted with a six-speed manual transmission (automatic transmission cut by 25 g/km to 190 g/km).
  • The SLK 280 has also been further improved with respect to fuel economy and, therefore, CO2 emissions. It continues to produce 170 kW/231 hp from its 2996 cc displacement, delivering 300 Nm of torque between 2500 and 5000 rpm. 0 to 100 km/h takes 6.3 s (6.2 s automatic transmission), while its top speed stands at 250 km/h. Fuel consumption has been cut by 0.4 l to 9.3 l (automatic transmission by 0.2 l to 9.1 l) whilst CO2 emissions have been reduced by 11 g to 220 g/km (automatic transmission by 6 g to 216 g/km).
  • The SLK 55 AMG is equipped with the familiar 5.5-litre V8 powerplant developing 265 kW/360 hp and a peak torque of 510 Nm. 0 to 100 km/h takes 4.9 s before going on to reach a top speed of 250 km/h (electronically limited). The SLK 55 AMG has a combined fuel consumption of 12.0 l per 100 km with CO2 emission of 289 g/km.
Sporty six-speed manual transmission or seven-speed automatic transmission
Standard equipment for the three new SLK models includes a six-speed manual transmission, which provides fast, sporty gear changes coupled with supreme ease of shifting. The AMG Speedshift 7G-TRONIC, which has been specifically tuned to AMG, comes with aluminium shift paddles on the steering wheel in the SLK 55 AMG. As a replacement for the manual transmission, the SLK 200 KOMPRESSOR comes with an option of a five-speed automatic transmission, while the SLK 280, and SLK 350 sports engine can be combined with the 7G‑TRONIC automatic transmission with seven speeds or alternatively the 7G‑TRONIC Sport with shift paddles on the steering wheel and shorter shift times.
New direct-steer system for outstanding agility and tangible driving pleasure
A newly developed direct-steer system with variable steering assistance, available as an optional extra (standard for the SLK 55 AMG), further highlights the qualities of the sporty chassis, combining agility and manoeuvrability when driving on twisting rural roads with steering comfort when parking and assured steering characteristics when travelling at high speed.
The direct-steer system is based on the previously installed speed-sensitive power steering system and operates by purely mechanical means, meaning that there is no need for elaborate actuators and complex sensors, which would otherwise impair the direct flow of forces between the wheels and hands, thereby compromising steering precision. At its heart is a new rack with slick gearing, which ensures that the steering gear ratio changes in tune with the steering angle. The ratio is indirect when the steering is in or around the central position so as to ensure excellent straight-line stability and, therefore, a high degree of assuredness when travelling at high speed. At a steering angle of just 5 degrees, the ratio starts to increase extremely rapidly and the steering feels much more direct. As a result, the number of steering wheel revolutions from lock to lock is reduced by around 25 percent if the new direct-steer system is fitted. This means that, even in city traffic, relatively little steering wheel movement is required to correct the car's path. The effect of the direct-steer system is all the more impressive on bends on rural roads. Small steering movements are all that is needed to steer the vehicle, virtually eliminating the need to reposition the hands on the steering wheel on tight bends; fast sequences of bends on rural roads can be negotiated almost intuitively with relatively small steering movements – with assurance, precision and a healthy dose of driving enjoyment. All of which translates into far more agile handling.
SLK 55 AMG with direct-steer system and even more striking appearance
The SLK 55 AMG is now even more dynamic. The appearance of the sporty roadster now reinforces the car’s claim to special status even more emphatically. The redesigned front apron with a more pronounced arrow-shape, the modified Mercedes star, enlarged air dams and a black-painted transverse fin on the lower section ensure a distinctly masculine aura. Large, round foglamps with chrome surrounds are now positioned further outwards, enhancing the impression of width. The hot air from the integral engine oil cooler is vented via side outlets in the front apron. The specific SLK 55 AMG bodystyling also includes AMG side skirts, the muscular AMG rear apron with a black insert and the AMG spoiler lip.
New features also include the projection-beam headlamps with dark surrounds and the exterior mirrors. The mirrors are larger to provide better rearward visibility whilst LED indicator repeaters in an arrow design also ensure more safety. The 18‑inch AMG light-alloy wheels in a multi-spoke design are more striking: painted in titanium grey and with a high-sheen star, these provide interesting contrasts when viewed from the side. With a width of 7.5 and 8.5 inches respectively, the AMG light-alloy wheels are fitted with size 225/40 (front) and 245/35 (rear) tyres. New, high-sheen 18-inch AMG light-alloy wheels in a twin-spoke design are also available in the same sizes on request for the SLK 55 AMG. Outstanding deceleration values are ensured by the AMG high-performance braking system with internally ventilated and perforated brake discs, size 345x30 mm, at the front. The newly developed direct-steer system is also part of the standard specification.
Functional interior with new AMG instrument cluster
In the functional and sporty interior of the SLK 55 AMG, the new AMG ergonomic sports steering wheel with its three-spoke design gives a visual hint of the direct steering feature. The grip area is specially shaped and lined with perforated leather, while the vertical spoke is embellished by a silver-coloured insert. Two aluminium AMG shift paddles allow manual gear selection.
The AMG instrument cluster with a 320 km/h speedometer scale, silver/red needles and AMG lettering also has a new look, and the new graphics ensure that vehicle speed and rpm are even more easily legible.
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