Review: Mercedes-Benz SLK (2004 – 2011)

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Georgeous jewel like looks reminiscent of a miniature McLaren SLR. Electric folding hard top. A much desired and aspired to car.

Apalling ride on 19-inch rear alloys. Not as together to drive as a Nissan 350Z or Porsche Boxster.

Mercedes-Benz SLK (2004 – 2011): At A Glance

In its day, the SLK was probably the most exquisite piece of street jewellery you can buy. It's a ‘must have' ‘want one' kind of car on its looks alone. A bit girly, if you had to get critical, but Clarkson smoked an SLK55 so it must be okay for blokes too.

It has all the bits of the original SLK, most importantly the electric folding hardtop. But it looks vastly better. A bit like a shrunken Mercedes McClaren SLR with better proportions. Come to think of it, personal preferences aside, there probably isn't a better-looking car than the new SLK anywhere on the planet.

Mercedes Benz SLK280 2006 Road Test

Mercedes Benz SLK350 facelift 2008 Road Test

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What does a Mercedes-Benz SLK (2004 – 2011) cost?

Mercedes-Benz SLK (2004 – 2011): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4089–4103 mm
Width 1777 mm
Height 1296 mm
Wheelbase 2430 mm

Full specifications

The roof works brilliantly. You just toggle a button. And even with an inflatable space-saver tyre underneath, there's enough room in the boot for a reasonable amount of luggage. Mercedes maximises the capacity by providing a hard plastic luggage cover between your stuff and the space the roof needs to fold into. You can get 208 litres in there top down, or 300 litres top up.Top on my list would be AIRSCARF that is a very clever neck level heating system, which blows out hot air via the headrests. With the SLK 350 taking just 22 seconds to convert from a hardtop to roadster, no ray of sunshine will be missed.

Second on my list of extras would be Direct Steer giving exquisite response on the twisting country lanes.

Last but by no means least would be the LINGUATRONIC voice control system with either the Audio 50 APS or COMAND packages. Simply speak your destination and the sat nav will obey saving valuable time trying to fathom out how to enter addresses. It will also recognise voice commands for radio stations or names from your phonebook.

Child seats that fit a Mercedes-Benz SLK (2004 – 2011)

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What's the Mercedes-Benz SLK (2004 – 2011) like to drive?

The 7-Gtronic box can be left on its own, or you can start changing your own gears at any time using the rockershifters on the back of the steering wheel. Press the forward end to change down and the end closest to you to change up. But seven gears are a lot of cogs, and to get a blast of speed from ‘Drive' you may have to toggle down two or three ratios rather than one or two.

Like the new SL the SLK280 has a great sportscar exhaust note. Other drivers expect a ‘280' to be a bit limp-wristed compared to an SLK55 AMG or even a 350, but if the occasion arises it rises to the occasion with a 0-60 blast in 5.9 seconds. The 7-Gtronic is actually a tenth of a second quicker than the 6-speed manual.

It grips like Evostick too. On all SLK's the rear tyres are fatter than the fronts so they are very difficult to slide (impossible, in my case as I'm not that leery a driver). However, this comes at an expensive price. With the optional 225/45 R17 fronts and 245/40 R17 rears the ride quality is the most bone-jarring of any car in my recent memory. Speed cushions have to be taken at 5mph if you don't want to smash your coccyx or gnash your teeth.

The shockwaves reverbate thoughout the car. ‘She' will not be amused. Even a section of road near me that hasn't deliberately been turned into an obstacle course was extremely unpleasant to drive along. So, word of warning here. Stick to the standard 55 and 50 profile tyres on 16" wheels.

The SLK is naturally up against sportier cars bought either for their ability or simply as status symbols, like the Porsche Boxster. The SLK doesn't drive as well as a Boxster, but it doesn't look like an upturned bathtub either. At the lower end of its price range you could instead go for a Honda S2000 or a Nissan 350Z or an Audi TT or, of course, a BMW Z4. But any bloke over 40 just looks silly in an S2000. A Nissan 350Z is the most hairy-chested and butch of the bunch. A Z4 offers the widest choice of engines and transmissions, including autos for the ladies and the softies, but doesn't have an electric folding hard top and isn't a Mercedes. And the Audi TT has just been replaced by a new one which I can't tell you about.

So, with the SLK, Mercedes has a niche market completely sewn up. All the status of a Mercedes electric folding hard top roadster. A choice of manual or auto. Stunning, gorgeous looks. And a decent drive as well.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
SLK200 Kompressor 33–36 mpg 7.6–7.9 s 184–209 g/km
SLK200 Kompressor Automatic 35 mpg 7.9 s 192 g/km
SLK280 29–30 mpg 6.3 s 220–231 g/km
SLK300 30 mpg 6.3 s 220 g/km
SLK300 Automatic 32 mpg 6.2 s 207 g/km
SLK350 27–29 mpg 5.4–5.6 s 227–255 g/km
SLK350 Automatic 31 mpg 5.4 s 209 g/km
SLK55 AMG 24 mpg 4.9 s 288 g/km

Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz SLK (2004 – 2011)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

18–38 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Mercedes-Benz SLK (2004 – 2011)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

I'm looking at buying a 10 year old Mercedes-Benz SLK - how can I ensure things like brakes and fluids are okay?

I'm looking at buying a 10 year old Mercedes-Benz SLK with 22,000 on the clock. However, it has only been serviced at 9000 miles (2014) and just recently by the car dealer. What do I need to have done to ensure brakes, fluids, belts etc are up to scratch?
You'll want to treat it as a big service. Engine oil and filter, fuel filter, brake fluid, dust filter, and coolant. But it will be the visual checks - condition of brake pads and discs, making sure there aren't any leaks, looking for chafe marks, checking for wear on the rubber boots etc.
Answered by Keith Moody
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