Mercedes-Benz SLK Roadster 1996 - 2004

Mercedes-Benz SLK Roadster 1996 - 2004

Review by it
Monday, May 16, 2016


  • Fabulous foldable metallic roof
  • Has good looks and a strong image


  • Boot space shrinks when the roof is down
  • Ride is firm


The Mercedes Benz SLK is a beautiful two seater convertible coupe that is well built with an improved interior and an ingenious folding metal roof that retracts in less than 30 seconds. It is extremely comfortable with the ride being firm, but not uncomfortably so and there is minimum wind buffeting when the roof is down. However, it doesn't handle as well as rivals and boot space is limited with the roof down.

Exterior and Interior

The SLK was a first for Mercedes with its folding metallic roof which transforms the SLK from a coupe to a roadster in less than 30 seconds. The interior is snug with limited head and legroom for taller drivers and passengers. The seats have been taken out of the saloon giving the driver a feeling of comfort rather than sportiness. A face-lift in 2000 introduced new and improved bumpers, better looking interiors and added indicators in the mirrors at the door. The boot is the smallest compared to its rivals at just 145litres which is even less with the roof down.

Performance and Economy

The 200 or 230 Kompressor engines are the better engines to go for offering good fuel economy with enough pace to keep up with the majority of other small hatchbacks. The 230 is lightly faster going from 0-60mph in just 7.0 as opposed to the 200's 7.9 seconds, but they both come in with the same fuel efficiency of 28mpg. The more powerful 320 V6 gets you from 0-60 in just 6.8 seconds with the 320 AMG managing it in just 5 seconds. The fuel economy is obviously less though with both of them coming in the low twenties, which drops even lower if you drive them hard. The automatic gearbox is by far the better option and makes driving around town easier as the manual is un-sporty and feels clunky.

Like to Drive

The folding metallic roof of the SLK is by far the highlight with its clever scissor action drawing people towards it. The SLK is designed more for cruising than twisty country lanes or for twisty alpine passes with its typically laid back Mercedes handling. Despite this there is loads of grip from the tyres with good balance and stability even with the roof down. There is also minimal wind buffeting with the roof down and when the roof is up it's as quiet as any other Mercedes coupe.

Faults and Repairs

The SLK has proven to be very reliable with few drivers reporting any problems. The roof however should be checked just to make sue it goes down smoothly as should the rest of the electrics as that where most of the problems are other Mercedes. The service and repair costs are hideously expensive so it might be a wise idea to find a good specialist garage rather than a main dealer.