Mercedes-Benz SLK

The Essentials

  • Price from £29,985
  • What Car? says: 2 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 56.5mpg
  • What is it? We love the look of this folding hard-topped convertible but we're not won over by the way it drives.

Great

  • Eye-catching looks
  • Generous safety and luxury equipment
  • Affordable running costs and impressive resale value

Gripes

  • Doesn't have the wow factor on the road
  • Some engines sound like 60-a-day smokers
  • Auto gearbox costs extra on basic models
  • Drive

    With its over-firm ride and floppy handling through corners, driving is not the SLK's strong point

  • Inside

    Dashboard looks impressive but too many fiddly buttons make it a nuisance to navigate

  • Safety

    Six airbags and stability control, plus lots of advanced high-tech systems to help keep you safe

  • Reliability

    Previous SLK was rated 'average' by owners

  • Space

    Generous passenger and relatively good boot space, for a sporty convertible

  • Standard and extras

    Air-con, alloys and Bluetooth are standard, climate control and all other luxuries available at a price

  • What's it like to drive?

    The 1.8-litre petrol engines at the cheaper end of the range don't offer the performance to match the car's sporty persona. They are also rather noisy and come with a manual gearbox. The punchy diesel engine does at least have the smooth-shifting automatic as standard, but it's still too noisy. The V6 and V8 engines are great but all are let down by the decidedly average ride and handling. A BMW Z4 is more comfortable, an Audi TT Roadster far more fun to drive.

  • What's it like inside?

    Despite plenty of adjustment, the driver's seat in the SLK still feels high-set for a sporty convertible and the offset pedals are irritating. The dash looks like a smart, high-tech cockpit but the small fiddly buttons and over-complex menus make it awkward to use.
    An optional glass panel lightens the cabin  but it's already roomy enough for two to sit comfortably with plenty of storage spaces for their clutter. The boot is a useful size - bigger than a BMW Z4's - but folding the roof limits both the space and the access.

  • How reliable is it?

    The SLK certainly looks like a premium product; the previous model managed an 'average' rating in the latest JD Power survey.
    As for safety, there's plenty of kit on board to help anticipate a crash and protect you should it happen. If the car suspects you're about to drop off it will alert you, while a pop-up bonnet acts to soften the impact if you hit a pedestrian.

  • Should I buy one?

    For this money there are better convertibles available, but few will be able to hold onto their value as well as an SLK. Running costs should be reasonable too - stop-start technology is fitted on all versions and the diesel claims an impressive 56.5mpg.