Why every gearhead should drive the Mercedes SLK
In general, the 1990s were a glorious decade. It all started with German reunification, which ended the Cold War. An immense hope for the Old Continent continued with incredible discoveries and the development of advanced technologies, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the DVD player and the World Wide Web.
Naturally, there were also a few quirks that came to define the age, and these include the first space funeral (April 1997), fanny packs, and chain wallets. However, as for the German automobile industry, in 1995-1996 it created two of the most iconic German automobiles of the 1990s, the BMW Z3 and the Mercedes SLK. Equally beautiful and capable roadsters that reiterated the idea of German superiority in the automotive industry.
The Mercedes SLK, with its “characteristic retractable roof, paved the way for a whole market segment focused on the pleasure of driving in the open all year round”, says mercedes Inheritance. Indeed, the retractable roof was a unique feature, but the SLK was much more than a beautiful roadster as it encompassed various innovations and set new trends. So these are the reasons why every gearhead should drive the Mercedes SLK.
The Mercedes SLK has a high-end design geared towards the new “HENRY” class and female drivers
The HENRYs are the so-called “High Earners Not Rich Yet”. Basically, these are the consumers sought after by all luxury brands, primarily because companies understand that the secret to their continued success is in these young shoppers. Making a connection with the HENRY class means building loyalty, so Mercedes can then come back and sell them the most expensive premium cars.
Back when it was released, everything about the SLK screamed “young money.” In fact, even eMercedes-Benz said that “the Stuttgart brand’s SLK has been very successful in appealing to a new class of lifestyle-oriented customers.” But it wasn’t just the HENRYs who liked this sexy, light and “short” car. In fact, women were also crazy about this roadster which scored top marks in its crash tests and proved that convertibles can be just as safe as non-convertible vehicles.
As for the design cues, consumers went crazy for the wedge shape, the dual “power domes” on the hood, and the premium materials used in both the cabin and exterior. Other extravagant features like power windows, air conditioning and custom sound system only added to the appeal of this sophisticated car.
The Mercedes SLK has a turbocharged engine
The sporty soul of Mercedes was evident in the SLK. The Germans initially launched the roadster in two separate options: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine which generated 136 hp and the supercharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine which generated 193 hp. Later the 2.0 liter engine was upgraded to 163 bhp and later other engines were added to the lineup.
The new six-cylinder models could generate 218 hp for the SLK 320 model and an impressive 354 hp for the SLK 32 AMG. In 2004 Mercedes-Benz released the supercharged SLK 200K, SLK 350 with the V6 engine and SLK 55 AMG with the V8 engine which generated 360 hp. After a major redesign in 2008, the SLK 350 came out with a powerful sports V6 engine that generated 305 hp.
You will love the Vario roof of the Mercedes SLK
There was a time when convertibles dominated Western markets. They were fun to ride, sexy, and something like instant status symbols. But they were out of fashion, as consumers saw them as expensive and impractical toys, only suitable for sunny places like Florida and California.
If you lived in a state that had all four seasons, you needed at least one extra car for rainy, cold days, so the convertible market continued to shrink. Data from Edmunds.com shows that between 2011 and 2015, annual sales of convertibles in the United States decreased by 7%. Meanwhile, the SUV market continued to grow. But before the era of heavy and bulky sport utility vehicles, convertibles had their heyday and the SLK dominated Western markets.
Consumers were particularly attracted to this Mercedes model due to the Vario roof. The sheet metal folding roof was quite revolutionary when it came out because it offered an increase in safety and reliability compared to the models present on the market, and it was as strong as those used for hardtops.
“The innovative solution was one of the highlights that allowed the SLK to pave the way for a whole market segment focused on year-round open-air driving with a sporty touch,” says eMercedes Benz.
The Mercedes SLK has an amazing range of innovative features for its age and time
If you think the SLK was just a nice car, you’re wrong. It was truly a German masterpiece, with various advanced features and interesting technical innovations that were unique for that time and era. For example, in 2004 Mercedes added the AIRSCARF as an option, which was a fully adjustable neck warmer built into the backrests.
Undoubtedly, this feature that provided warm air while driving made driving more comfortable. SLK fans found another cool feature on the R 170, which was the new ellipsoidal bulkhead. In addition, the Vario roof continued to be refitted over the years. In 2000, Mercedes added electronic stability program and SPEEDTRONIC as standard.