She’s got the look!
Some cars, like people, are attractive. Others, you like to listen to. Still others have that unique je ne sais quoi that whips peoples’ heads around and generally causes a little flutter of silent appreciation and the odd stare as you pass. I got to experience the latter first hand this week after taking delivery of a sleek Mercedes-Benz SLK250 to put through its paces.
I definitely expected a lot more.
I have to admit, I was initially a tad underwhelmed – on a cold start, the engine makes an unappealing and deceptive cough into life and the black on black interior felt claustrophobic. I definitely expected a lot more. Sadly, my first drive was not in weather conducive to putting the roof down – why does it always rain when we get a convertible to test? But this didn’t deter the odd look, sideways glance and more that this little roadster demands.
With sleek lines accenting a slightly more aggressively styled bonnet and tapering to flared wheel arches in the rear, this gorgeous car is definitely deserving of the second glance she tends to get. The added (standard) AMG Sport Line kit adds just that extra bit of street cred and gives a sexy, racy edge to the SLK with a front apron, big exhaust outlets and a sporty chequered flag instrument cluster. With plenty of aluminium and chromed highlights in the interior, as well as an intuitive multimedia display, I found the cabin to be clean and classy in its design. Minimal buttons and gadgets mean that you can concentrate on the drivability of this car without distraction.
…the engine delivers a suitable growl…
After warming up, the engine delivers a suitable growl and satisfactory popping exhaust as you change through the gears. Switching over to Sports mode is particularly rewarding from a delicious, noisy, lovin’ life point of view. You’ll want to do as we did and take the Vario roof down despite the chilly winter weather to take full advantage of the kerb appeal of the SLK250. Heated seats and air scarves kept us toasty during our winter morning drives and we raised more than a few motoring eyebrows as we missioned around oblivious to the chill.
Mercedes-Benz have also improved fuel efficiency while reducing carbon emissions; the SLK250 boasts a surprisingly small 1.8l 4 cylinder turbo charged engine. This BlueEFFICIENCY model marries better fuel economy and emission with power and performance to provide a perfect middle option between the entry-level SLK200 and the much more powerful and pricier SLK350. Using the same engine as the SLK200 but with added vooma, the SLK250 pushes out 150kW at 5,500rpm – plenty of poke for such a small vehicle.
…plenty of poke for such a small vehicle.
SLK250 is only available with a 7-speed automatic gearbox. I found the first two gears to be a tad short and the changes jerky when driving in traffic. However, put your foot down on the open road and with an appropriate howl of joy, she’ll leap forward and climb through all the gears smoothly and efficiently. The great feeling this gives you cannot be described.
The SLK250, like any attractive woman, handles beautifully. You’ll appreciate the superior road holding ability as well as the absolute finesse that corners and turns are completed at. Sitting so far towards the rear axle, the car virtually pivots around corners – a fact that never ceased to delight me. The SLK’s panache extended to its behaviour on our road tests – braking was sharp and excellent and the electronic stability programme ensured that all emergency stops were perfect, without skids, wheel locks or slides – even on different road surfaces. The AMG Sport Line kit has also resulted in a lowered suspension as well as a harder, sportier ride.
So if its looks you’re after both in appearance and reaction, but you’re not willing to forego useful things like performance and fuel efficiency, then the SLK250 is a fabulous car. Those in search of boot space and people carriers need not apply. The SLK250 retails from N$640 838 inclusive.
0-100m: 7.1s / 84.5km/h
0-200m: 9.7s / 126.1km/h
0-300m: 12.1s / 140.6km/h
0-400m: 14.4 / 152.5km/h
1/4mile: 14.5s @ 94.9mph (152.8km/h)
Climate Sunny, cool
Road Dry tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 1/3