Price £31,500-£39,000 (est)
On sale June
Mercedes-Benz will launch the next SLK roadster in June, just in time for what everyone hopes will be that rare thing, a half-decent British summer.
The third-generation SLK is based on a revised version of the current model's platform and chassis, and will offer a new version of its folding metal roof, up to 25% better fuel economy, a sportier drive, advances in safety and improved quality, Mercedes claims.
The first SLK of 1996 introduced fresh-air fiends to the concept of the folding metal roof, although the idea had initially been pioneered by Peugeot in the 1930s before being dropped after only a handful of cars were produced. Mercedes' timing in reviving it was spot-on. The clamour to be one of the first to own an SLK showed the public were ready for a roadster that could be as secure as a coupe when parked and as snug when being used in bad weather.
The new SLK continues the 'vario-roof' theme, but with an additional twist. Besides the standard body-colour top and a dark-tinted panoramic option there's a new version which Mercedes calls Magic Sky Control. This allows owners, at the touch of a button, to vary the amount of light coming in to help keep the cabin cool in high temperatures or make it brighter when the weather is dull.
The new roof is the crowning glory of a slightly larger SLK that exhibits the classic sportscar proportions of a long bonnet and a short tail.
The styling pays homage to Mercedes' flagship sports car, the SLS, as well as the classic 190 SL from the 1950s, most noticeably in the more upright grille with a three-pointed star flanked by two chrome bars, and the gills in the front wings.
Despite the more upright frontage the new SLK is sleeker than the model it replaces, helping to save a bit of fuel at speed, while an aluminium bonnet and wings help to keep down weight.