New Mercedes-Benz SLK
Mercedes has revamped the SLK-Class roadster range, and the new models will be appearing in the UK during April 2008.
All versions are having their looks sharpened up, with new wheels, a more pronounced arrow-like look to the front end and a rear diffuser. There are minor changes to the interior too, including a new three-spoke steering wheel and revised instrument cluster.
Almost every engine in the range has been worked on, with the exception of the 360bhp 5.5-litre V8 in the SLK 55 AMG, which was doing a pretty good job already. The major modifications have been reserved for the SLK 350's 3.5-litre V6 unit; this now produces a maximum of 305bhp - more than 10% up on its predecessor - but it also performs better on the fuel economy/CO2 test cycle, giving 29.7mpg and 227g/km with six-speed manual transmission or 30.7mpg/219g/km with the 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic.
The engines in the SLK 200 Kompressor and SLK 280 have also been tweaked to give better economy and lower CO2 emissions, while the Kompressor has also had its power output increased from 163bhp to 184bhp.
Optional on most versions, but standard on the SLK 55 AMG, is a new Direct Steer system which appears to give varying amounts of steering assistance depending on how far you turn the wheel.
In fact this isn't a question of "assistance" at all - the system is purely mechanical, and what happens is that the steering gear ratio changes as the wheel goes more than five degrees away from centre. Mercedes says that the amount of turns required to get the wheel from lock to lock is reduced by a quarter with this system fitted.
Mercedes is also fitting the SLK with what it describes as "the new NTG 2.5 audio and telematics generation". In plain terms, this means that there's a Bluetooth hands-free phone system and a media interface in the glove compartment for plugging in mobile audio devices. The Linguatronic voice-operated control system is being offered as an option for the first time in the SLK range.
More details about specification and pricing will be revealed in the New Year.