The second generation Mercedes-Benz SLK, internally designated model R171, is a two-passenger, front-engine, rear-drive, retractable hardtop roadster, unveiled at the 74th Geneva International Motor Show — and manufactured and marketed for model years 2004-2010.
The R171 features a number of revisions compared to its predecessor, the R170: a 30mm longer wheelbase, increased length (72mm) and width (65mm), 40% increased use of high strength steel, seven-speed automatic transmission, adaptive two-stage airbags, head/thorax sidebags and a revised roof mechanism (marketed as the Vario roof) deployable in 22 seconds (previously 25 seconds) with a rotary-pivoting rear window enabling a more compact folded roof stack and trunk storage increased by 63 litres with the roof retracted. Optional features include remote operation of the retractable hardtop as well as an innovative forced air, neck-level heating system integral to the headrests, marketed as Airscarf.
The fully galvanized bodywork, which features 19 percent improvement in static bending and 46 percent improvement in torsional strength with the roof down, also features a 3% improvement in aerodynamic efficiency, with a Cd value of 0.32. The design has been aerodynamically optimized to minimize interior draughts with the top retracted and includes a fabric windblocker which can be pulled up over the two roll-over bars. Mercedes marketed the R171's tapering front end styling by designer Steve Mattin as "Formula One-inspired".
In 2008, the SLK reached sales of 500,000th. The R171 made Car and Driver's Ten Best list for 2005 and won the Canadian Car of the Year Best New Convertible award.
The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Roadsters have long captured the hearts of sports car enthusiasts. Incorporating around 650 newly developed parts, the SLK models of 2008 are even more dynamic and now offer an even more emotionally charged driving experience. Key visual enhancements include new-look front and rear sections as well as a meticulously modified interior with a new instrument cluster and three-spoke sports steering wheel. A fast-running V6 sports engine developing 224 kW/305 hp and an optionally available direct-steer system truly bring the bold, dynamic character of the two-seater SLK 350 to the fore. Furthermore, all of the engines in the line-up are now far more economical on fuel and, therefore, emit even less CO2, despite a substantial increase in output in many cases.
Since their first appearance in 1996, the compact SLK Roadsters have come to symbolise Mercedes-Benz' dynamic 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 Germany alone – 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.
As trendsetters and technology leaders, the SLK-Class Roadsters have long enjoyed the image of a modern cult car. Even after the extensive modifications, the familiar outstanding qualities remain, for example, the vario-roof that transforms the roadster into a coupé in 22 seconds, not to mention the extensive standard-equipment package, including head/thorax sidebags, adaptive front airbags and two-stage belt-force limiters. Plus the roadster also comes with the option of the unique AIRSCARF neck-level heating system, which allows open-top driving pleasure all year round, even in winter
Models of this SLK include:
SLK 200 Kompressor – 1.8 L 120 kW (163 PS; 161 hp) I4 supercharged engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 7.9 seconds, top speed of 143 mph.
SLK 300 (known as SLK 280 in some markets) – 3.0 L (2996 cc) 170 kW (231 PS; 228 hp) double overhead cam V6 engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 6.3 seconds, top speed 155 mph. (starting in 2006 model year)
SLK 350 – new 3.5 L (3498 cc) 200 kW (272 PS; 268 hp) double overhead cam V6 engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 5.4 seconds, top speed 155 mph ou 250 km/h(electronically limited). From 2008 - 305 PS (224 kW; 301 hp)@6000, 360 N·m (270 lb·ft)@2400-5000
SLK 55 AMG – 5.4 L (5439 cc) 265 kW (360 PS; 355 hp) V8 engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 4.9 seconds, top speed 155 mph (249 km/h). A modified version of this model was used in Formula One as its Safety Car during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. The SLK55 AMG was also the first Mercedes tuned by AMG's Performance Studio to create the new "Black Series".
Model Years Standard Optional
SLK 200 KOMPRESSOR 2004–2008 6-speed manual 5-speed automatic
SLK 280 2005–2009 6-speed manual 7G-TRONIC
SLK 350 2004–2011 6-speed manual 7G-TRONIC