Mercedes-Benz SLK is a small to medium sized convertible sportscar that’s long been a big success on the Australian market since launched two decades back. It has prestige, style and is just lovely in open top driving.
The gen-three SLK reached Australia in September 2011, only two months after its European launch. This time its shape made it look like a smaller version of the outrageous looking Mercedes-AMG SLS. While the SLK doesn’t have an huge bonnet like the SLS’s it still looks pretty good.
Mercedes SLK was one of the first to use a modern day folding hardtop giving it the appearance of a sports coupe when the roof is closed. However, a disadvantage of the hardtop is the amount of space it takes from the boot. Check for yourself if you’re planning long holiday trips.
A clever feature is the Airscarf, this has slots in the headrests that can blow warm air on your ears and neck. This extends the times you can use a Mercedes SLK well into early spring and late autumn.
Suspension of the standard SLK models is set about midway between pure sportscar and comfortable cruiser. It’s firm, though not over-hard and provides high levels of road grip. Large brakes and sophisticated electronic traction controls make the Mercedes sports safe and enjoyable under all conditions.
Mercedes-AMG are hotrods with huge acceleration, a great sound and superb road grip. Many don’t seem to do much more than take part in numerous traffic-light Grands Pix. But some many have spent weekends thundering around racetracks. The suspension may be firmer than you like if you’re only looking for a big engine in a smart cruiser.
Mercedes-Benz has been a major player in Australia for many decades and is backed up by a strong dealer network. Though dealers are concentrated in major metro areas there are quite a few country dealers as well.
Servicing and spare parts aren’t cheap, but not as expensive as you might expect. But don’t over-commit yourself on buying an SLK – then find you can’t keep it in the manner to which it is accustomed.
The SLK was discontinued in 2015, replaced by a new model calls the SLC. That was due to naming conventions. These aren’t being covered in this review, but we will come to them in a year or two.
Don’t attempt anything other than minor repairs unless you are a competent home mechanic. And don’t dream of going anywhere near anything that can compromise safety.
Many Mercedes-Benz SLKs are serviced by authorised dealerships, which adds to the value of the car at resale time. Ask to see the service books as proof. Smart buyers of used SLKs keep up the official service record to maximise the value of their car when they eventually move up to another car.
Insurance is generally moderately priced for a car in this class. Drivers with a poor record may have to pay substantially more. Some companies will charge extra for the AMG variants, especially for younger drivers.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
After doing your own initial checks call in a Mercedes technician, ideally one from a Mercedes dealership. However, some factory trained mechanics may have left the company and set up as private individuals.
A recall in 2016 due to possible steering issues has almost certainly seen all SLKs fixed, but contact Mercedes-Benz head office to check.
Check for signs of crash repairs: ripples in the panels when viewed end on are easy to spot, as are tiny paint spots on unpainted areas such as glass and badges.
Look over the interior for signs of an SLK that’s been caught in the rain with its top down: water damage or stains, particularly in the dash top, instrument panel and seats.
Lift the carpets to check for dampness. It’s probably best to do this in the presence of the seller, better still ask them to do it for you.
Hesitation and/or creaks from the roof as it’s opened / closed may mean it hasn’t been lubricated correctly. Special lubricants are required.
If there are noises from the roof mechanism may we suggest having the work done and then the condition of the complete area checked?
The engine should start easily and idle steadily the moment it fires up. The four-cylinder units aren’t as smooth as the sixes.
Budget on spending from $14,000 to $21,000 for a 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLK 200; $17,000 to $24,000 for a 2012 2012 SLK 200; $23,000 to $31,000 for a 2011 SLK 350; $33,000 to $45,000 for a 2013 SLK 350; $38,000 to $51,000 for a 2014 SLK 350; $48,000 to $65,000 for a 2014 SLK 55 AMG; and $55,000 to $73,000 for a 2015 SLK 55 AMG.
CAR BUYING TIP
Older premium cars can be pretty expensive to service, so allow for these costs when setting your buying budget.
RECALLS: To browse recalls on all vehicles go to the ACCC at: www.productsafety.gov.au/products/transport/cars/