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Recently I was very lucky to have the new Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 for the whole day as a demonstrator model. I saw the adverts for it on the TV and have been drooling after one ever since. My partner, who already has an E Class Mercedes happened to mention it to one of the account managers at the Mercedes garage - he asked about the possibility of me having one for the day to test drive. Although there is a huge demand for them at the moment - he managed to wangle me one for the day the following week, which just happened to be on my 30th birthday! What a treat!
Although I liked the look of the old style SLK, the new one is really something quite special. At first glance, it just looks more sportier and definitely has a more muscular styling. In short - it looks like a beast. We went down to the car showroom to pick it up in the morning and as we walked upto the door of the reception - there it was. Drool running down my chin, I practically ran up to the front desk hankering after those keys. After signing a few forms, keys were handed over and that muscley baby was mine for the day!
~~~ Design & Specifications ~~~
The car I took out for the day had all the toys and trimmings on it - as you would expect from a demonstrator model. Obviously, Mercedes want to show you all the gadgetry and toys that are available on the model. As is often the way with these things, you purchase the basic model and then have to pay for any 'extras' on top. In fact, what you get for the basic price is quite basic indeed. The standard equipment on the SLK 350 is as follows:
Exterior & Transmission
6-speed manual Sequentronic transmission with cruise control & Speedtronic variable speed limiter
Aerial in rear wing
Alloy wheels (4) - 5 spoke design front: 7.5J x 17 (225/45 tyres) rear: 8.5J x 17 (245/40 tyres)
Door mirrors - electrically operated & heated
Electric-hydraulic vario roof
Exhaust system with chrome tailpipes (2)
Remote boot release
Spare wheel - space saver
Automatic climate control
Door sill plate with "Mercedes-Benz" lettering
Electric windows (2)
Fabric upholstery - Sienna
Interior lighting package
Mercedes-Benz Audio 20 Radio/CD with 9 speakers
Multi function leather-trimmed steering wheel with trip computer
Outside temperature gauge
Power steering with steering column - manually adjustable for height & reach
Airbags - head-thorax sidebags for driver & passenger
Alarm system with immobiliser & interior protection
Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist (BAS)
Automatic child seat recognition sensor
Brake-pad wear indicator
Electronic Stabiity Programme (ESP) with Acceleration Skid Control (ASR)
High-level third brake lamp
Locking wheel bolts
Remote central locking
Seat belt pre-tensioners
above is the standard equipment that you will get on the SLK 350. There is a whole range of added extras you can have also, but these come at a cost. Here is a comprehensive list of all the optional toys and gizmos you can have:
Mercedes-Benz Audio 50 APS radio/single CD player with CD-ROM navigation
Cockpit Management & Navigation Display (COMAND APS) - incorporating radio, single CD/DVD drive in centre console & DVD navigation in luggage compartment
Harmon/kardon LOGIC 7 surround sound system
CD changer in glove compartment
Telephone pre-wiring with hands free facility
Telephone cradle for various Nokia/Siemen
~~~ Technical Data ~~~
(SLK 350 - Petrol 3,498cc, 6 cylinder, 272hp)
SLK 350 6-speed manual:
mpg = 18.2 EUDC mpg = 35.3 Total mpg = 26.5 CO2 emission = 255 g/km 0-62.5mph = 5.6s
SLK 350 7G-Tronic 7-speed automatic:
mpg = 20.2 EUDC mpg = 37.2 Total mpg = 28 CO2 emission = 238 0-62.5mph = 5.5s
Top speed of 155 mph (limited)
~~~ How does it perform and drive? ~~~
The demonstrator model I took out for the day had all the extra toys and gadgets on it, it was also an automatic. As I walked towards the car I was in awe of how muscley and powerful it looked in comparison to its predecessor. It has beefy styling, an arrow shaped body and a highly characteristic tail. The radiator grille is another eyecatcher and the big Merc star on the front in the middle speaks for itself.
As you get into the cockpit you are immediately embraced by its ergonomically designed, ultra comfortable sports seats in leather. The seats can be adjusted to fit your own driving postion perfectly, the controls are on the side of the seat and are simple to use. You can also adjust the steering column to your own tastes to ensure maximum comfort when driving. So assume driving position, key in ignition and now ready to ride the beast!
I drove the SLK around the streets of Bristol all day long, I have to admit. most of the time I didn't have a particular destination in mind - just driving around for the sheer joy of it. It would be rude not to pose in this car! The first impression I had as I drove off the garage forecourt is "god doesn't this car want to GO" !! You can feel the power of the car under you - Its like a growl that wants to turn into a roar. Its such a responsive car, just the slightest touch of the gas and you are on your way like as bullet. I have to admit this took a little getting used to - having been used to driving a MGF, this was somewhat different. I had to watch I didn't get a bad case of 'lead foot' - there were a few occasions where I lurched forward like a rocket on the roundabouts, but I guess this is just because Im not used to the car and is something you would soon adapt to.
After driving around the city for a bit and getting used to the car, I decided to take it on the motorway for a short stretch to see what this beast really could do. On a straight clear road, put your foot down and be prepared for the WOW factor. This car REALLY shifts. I thought my MGF was fairly nippy but the SLK makes it look like a Micra. It shifts up the gears effortlessly and makes for a really smooth ride. The beauty of the 7G-Tronic auto gearbox is that you have the option of overiding the automatic gears and going into manual mode. This can be actioned by either using the gearstick or the paddles on the steering wheel. Both perform the same functions, its just a matter of preference as to which you use. Tapping the gearstick to either the left or right will change the gears up or down for you. The paddles on either side of the steering wheel performs the same function, I preferred to use the gearstick myself - but using the paddles makes you feel like a Formula One racing driver!!
The automatic transmission is great for pottering around town in the traffic as it saves all that annoying gear changing. It makes for effortless driving. On the other hand, if you were at the traffic lights and some spotty oik was next to you revving up his supercharged Nova - it would certainly be a good opportunity to shift into manual mode and show him the dust on your heels, haha! On a more serious note, the manual mode is very useful when overtaking on a country lane etc, that sort of scenario. It gives you the extra shift when needed. There are also various modes on the car, such as winter mode and sports mode. Im not exactly sure what the difference between them is - but I had it in sports mode all the way of course!!
The general handling of the car is excellent. I found it a superb drive - the steering is ultra responsive which I liked. My partner drove it and wasn't so keen on the steering, he found it too responsive - but perhaps that is because he has become so used to another car and this is somewhat different. I found it excellent.
Having only had the car for one day, I wasn't able to try all the toys and functions - but I gave it a damn good go! The sat nav system on the centre console is brilliant, a large clear display. The sound system is awesome - I mean, good grief how can a 2 seater sports car have 9 speakers??? Where are they all hidden?! Needless to say the sound quality is second to none. I liked the idea of the Parktronic system - this gives you an audible and visible warning if you are nearing
Pictures of Mercedes SLK 350
Mercedes-Benz SLK 350
an obstacle to either the front or rear of the car. Very handy when reverse parking. Especially with my parking skills ;-)I also like the memory functions on the seats and mirrors. When you take the key out of the ignition,the seats go back to their factory default. As soon as you put the key back in and turn the ignition, it has 'remembered' your last setting and adjusts the seats for you automatically. The same goes for the mirrors. When I was reversing into a parking space, I adjusted the wing mirrors down so I could see the pavement - as soon as you put the car back into drive to move forward, the mirrors automatically go back to their previous setting. Then when you put the car back into reverse, the mirrors will automatically move to the position you left them in when you last reversed. This is a really clever touch and is very useful.
And now - the biggest selling point of the car, I think - the vario roof. The SLK class is the only model in its class capable of converting from a hartop coupe into an open-top roadster. Press a button and in just 22 seconds the electro-hydraulic vario-roof moves backwards in a single elegant motion and disappears out of view into the rear of the car. The capacity of the boot is 208 litres with the roof down (300 litres with roof up) so it is still quite spacious with the roof down - actually I was quite suprised at how large the boot is for a 2 seater roadster. Bigger than my MGF! Driving around in this car topless (!!!!) is awesome. If you get a bit chilly you can turn the 'Airscarf' on which blows hot air out the headrest in order to warm your neck, shoulders and head - this is a brilliant idea. You can have a remote control for the roof on the key fob. Imagine how cool that is, as you walk towards your car - just press the button and down comes the roof ready for when you reach your vehicle. The model I took out for the day didn't have this function unfortunately - but still, the whole process of the roof coming off is fantastic and is quite a spectacle. The weather wasn't brilliant on the day I took the car out - it was quite drizzly - but at one point in the afternnoon the rain stopped and I thought right, time to take my top off. I parked up by a school, pressed the button and waited the prescribed 22 seconds for the lid to come down. Groups of schoolboys were walking past, eyes goggling at the sight, couldn't tear their eyes away from my beast!!
~~~ In summary ~~~
This car is awesome, I absolutely loved driving it. At an on the road price of £34,270 it doesn't come cheap! And remember this is the price for the standard build - all the extras and toys mentioned earlier are at an extra cost. The demo car I took out would cost in excess of £40K. The demo car was in Iridium Silver with Dusky Red leather but there is a whole load of combinations of paint and interior colours you can choose from.
After having this car for the day - I didn't want to take it back, I could have cried really I could have! It was too painful to send it back so my partner drove it back - doing a huge wheelspin as he left the house may I hasten to add! When I saw my poor old faithful MGF parked back on the drive - I felt guilty, as if I had been unfaithful with another behind its back. I would liken it to having tasted fillet steak after Spam, mmmmm now which would you prefer??
On the way back from dropping the car off, my partner phoned me. He said he had done something which he may live to regret. Oh no, I thought he's crashed the SLK and its all a total disaster.
He then announced he had ordered me one, to be delivered in the next 10-12 months. His feeling of regret - was the thought that I would be "a speeding ticket waiting to happen", which yes I probably shall be!
Definitely the best birthday present I have EVER had!!!! Thanks for reading,