Page 1: Introduction
IRVINE, CA - Another roadster in a long line of sporting machines from Mercedes-Benz is set to debut in Europe this spring and arrives in the U.S. for the 2005 model year. The 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class builds on the proportions and philosophies of today's model, refining them in a completely redesigned car that takes its styling cues from modern concept and production vehicles wearing the three-pointed star.
In Europe, three models will be available. At the bottom of the lineup is the 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK 200 Kompressor, which is powered by a supercharged inline four-cylinder engine making 163 horsepower. Like all SLK models, the SLK 200 Kompressor is rear-wheel-drive. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, and a five-speed automatic is optional. Mercedes-Benz is not expecting to sell this car in North America.
Here in the U.S., the volume version will be the 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK 350, which makes 272 horsepower from its stout V6 engine. This more powerful motor features variable camshaft control and other technological enhancements to make it more fuel-efficient yet more powerful than the previous 3.2-liter V6 engine. Furthermore, its maximum torque output is reached at a low 2,400 rpm and remains strong through 5,000 rpm. Mercedes claims that the 2005 SLK 350 will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in about 5.5 seconds, with little variance between the standard six-speed manual or optional seven-speed automatic. Drivers wishing for more involvement in gear selection on this latter transmission can choose to equip the Mercedes SLK 350 with buttons on the steering wheel for more convenient manual shifting. Seventeen-inch wheels are likely to be standard, with 18-inch wheels possibly bundled with a sport suspension option.
Page 2: Power
Styling modifications for the 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG include special AMG multi-spoke wheels, a body kit, longitudinal gills on the hood, twin exhaust outlets and smoked taillight lenses. Other modifications include chrome-ringed front fog lights, black painted grille elements and a subtle lip spoiler on the trunk lid that reduces lift by as much as 36 percent. Inside, the SLK 55 AMG receives Nappa leather appointments, AMG sports seats and an AMG steering wheel.
Page 3: Features
Safety issues have been addressed with the inclusion of a head-and-thorax side airbags system, dual-stage front airbags, two-stage seatbelt force limiters, and rollover bars that deploy from behind the seats. In the event of a rollover accident, a sensor also tightens the seatbelt pretensioners to remove all slack and hold occupants in tightly. As in the previous car, four-wheel-disc ABS with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist, as well as Electronic Stability Program (ESP), keep the SLK on the intended path.
Page 4: Interior
Today's Mercedes-Benz SLK was never taken seriously as a sports car, even in supercharged AMG format. Perhaps this new Benz roadster, with its stout V6 and V8 engines, revised hardware and sleeker look, will provide the goods to go head-to-head with the BMW Z4, Honda S2000 and Porsche Boxster.
Photos courtesy of DaimlerChrysler