The SLK may not have the reputation for precision and interaction of its main rivals, the Porsche Boxster
and BMW Z4
, but theres one thing Mercedes can offer that its foes cannot – a diesel engine.
A clattering diesel could seem incongruous in a sports car like the SLK, so the distinct lack of noise when you start up and drive off certainly makes its case stronger.
As does the performance on offer. The 2.1-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel develops 204 horsepower, and 368 lb ft of torque from only 1,600 rpm. With Mercedes ubiquitous seven-speed automatic transmission, that performance is particularly easy to access, and the 0-62 mph sprint can be covered inn as little as 6.7 seconds.
It certainly feels strong out on the road, with hearty overtaking urge a mere flex of the right foot away. Noise is kept to a minimum and the SLS-inspired cabin feels snug and expensive. Sporty too, with leather and brushed metal finishes in all the right places.
The supercar touches continue on the outside, with a pugnacious grille virtually identical to that on the SLS, and the same illusion of a glassy cabin perched atop a strong, impregnable body. At the same time, its proportions are distinctly SLK. It looks good, though some details are a little busy – the side vents and the stretched-back headlights being two such examples.
But with a diesel engine and automatic transmission, does it feel like a sports car to drive?
Not particularly. That isn’t to say its without appeal, however. It feels much more like a relaxed GT, with strong performance, capable (if not particularly involving) handling, oodles of grip and a composed ride.
And show it heavy traffic, long motorway journeys or the daily commute, and its strengths would quickly surface – its 56.5 mpg average economy, for example, and low 120 per year road tax. The list price of our car was a little steep, with options such as two grands worth of panoramic, variable transparency sunroof, for example, but the 250 AMG Sport starts at a more reasonable £36,255.
Price as tested: £48,600
CO2: 132 g/km
The SLK 250 CDI isnt the car youd pick for your favourite back-road blast. Its diesel engine and safe handling cant match the drama of a Boxster, but it’ll appeal to a different sort of customer as a result.
Its quick, relaxing, exudes quality and of course, you can drop that hard top at the press of a button. Not a traditional sports car then, but one whose talents make as much sense on a rainy commute as they do cruising through the Alps.
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For more information, check out our full summary of the Mercedes SLK alongside reviews, stats, photos and videos!