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What Car? says

5 out of 5 stars

For Drives as well as it looks; great folding metal roof

Against Seats could do with more side support

Verdict This SLK is hard to fault thanks to a much sportier drive than the old model

Go for… SLK350

Avoid… SLK280

Mercedes-Benz SLK Open
  • 1. Servicing will be the biggest running cost, as Mercedes dealers’ labour rates are high
  • 2. The engines and gearboxes are proven and should be reliable
  • 3. The roof mechanism is generally reliable, but the electric motors can seize if the roof is left up all the time
  • 4. This second-generation SLK is far better to drive than the first; it's a genuine sports car
  • 5. All are well-equipped, but try to find a car with the optional Airscarf that blows warm air around your neck
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Mercedes-Benz SLK Open full review with expert trade views

Mercedes has judged this generation of SLK to perfection. By making the car sportier to drive, it now has the manners to back up the attitude.

Roof up or down, the body doesn't shake, even on poor surfaces and it rides with a suppleness few rivals can come close to. It also handles beautifully with unshakable grip through the corners and steering that's well weighted, if not quite as full of feel as a Porsche Boxster’s.

The supercharged 1.8-litre engine in the SLK200 has just the right amount of power to be great fun, but not frightening. The 280 and 350 V6s are very strong, but the real powerhouse is the SLK55 AMG that packs a 355bhp 5.4-litre V8.

Best of all, this is a very practical sports car. The comfortable interior has plenty of space for two, as well as everything you need for everyday use, while the boot is a decent size so long as the roof is left up.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Doesn't make the premium prices that the previous model did. AMG version comes close

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

The SLK200 may have the smallest engine in the range but it's more than quick enough. Its slightly less frantic performance also makes it much less intimidating for drivers new to the sports car experience.

For the real deal, though, you can pick from the 280 and 350 V6 models, which are both quick and sound great. The 280 was only introduced in 2006, so there are more 350s out there for used buyers. We’d go for the SLK350 anyway as it will cost little more to buy than a 280 of the same age and offers more performance.

If you want something altogether more hardcore, though, the SLK55 AMG is a real humdinger of a sports car, with a loud exhaust note and firmer ride. If this doesn’t faze you, you’re in for a real treat.

All SLKs are well equipped, but try to find one with the optional Airscarf fitted that wafts warm air around your neck when the roof is down.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Entry level 200K auto, or a SLK 250 with leather best for retail

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The SLK200 may be a sleek two-seater sports car, but it’s not going to break the bank. Its fuel economy of 32.5mpg is respectable, and a fair bit better than the V6 models that dip into the mid-20s and the AMG model, which gulps unleaded at a rate of 23.5mpg.

Service intervals depend on how the car's driven and servicing will be an SLK owner's biggest single cost as franchised Mercedes dealers’ labour rates are at the top end of the scale. However, your car is unlikely to need anything other than routine work. Replacement parts aren't cheap, but it's worth getting original Merc parts to preserve the car’s residual value.

All SLKs attract hefty insurance premiums, with the SLK200 sitting in group 16. The SLK350 is in group 18 and you won’t be surprised to hear the SLK55 is in group 19.

Trade view

Martin Keighley

Doesn't make the premium prices that the previous model did. AMG version comes close

Martin Keighley
Valuations expert,
What Car? Used Car Price Guide

There’s not much to worry about with the SLK as long as the owners stick to its service schedule. This varies with use and there’s an indicator that tells the driver when a service is due, so the smart money goes on an SLK that has just been serviced.

The engines and gearboxes are proven and will be reliable. And, while the roof mechanism is one of the most reliable around, problems can arise if the roof is left up all the time. In particular, the electric motors can seize, which is pricey to sort out. So, before you buy, press every button during the test drive.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Entry level 200K auto, or a SLK 250 with leather best for retail

James Ruppert
Used car guru
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