Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Half-a-million $$$ baby

Half-a-million $$$ baby
The new SLK 200 comes with 650 improvements to give it plenty of oomph and class
Y.S. Khong

The SLK 200 – for the person with everything.
THE Mercedes-Benz SLK 200 comes with a refreshed front and rear, and a total of 650 improvements, some of which are internal and mechanical.

Its main appeal is, of course, the electrically-actuated hardtop roof that takes less than half a minute to disappear into the rear boot at the touch of a button – always a sight to behold.

The front-end has taken some design hints from the flagship SLR, in the form of a new bumper that carries a larger air-dam and a more pronounced V-look.

A large three-pointed star sits in the middle of the front grille to make sure no one mistakes it for anything else but a Mercedes-Benz.

At the rear, there are now twin exhaust pipes and a diffuser, plus darkened tail lights. Exterior mirrors are larger to give a better rear view, and LED indicators are built into them.

Changes to the interior include a three-spoke steering wheel with multi-function buttons, and a new instrument cluster. Meters are analogue, and round with bezel surrounds to maintain the ‘sports car’ look.

Drivers now get a set of F1-type paddle shifters. Wood trim is available in two colours, and the interior colours now include ‘gull wing red’, inspired by the legendary SL300 gull wing model.

An iPod jack is standard, and a Linguatronic system allows voice control over the audio. A GPS navigation system is standard equipment.

Mechanical improvements to the 1.8-litre engine, which comes with a supercharger, give the SLK 200 an additional 21 horses to 184hp and 250Nm of torque, while fuel consumption has been reduced to 9.11 litre per 100km.

Drive is to the rear wheels, through 18-inch alloys.

Although mechanically the SLK 200 is much the same as the C200, a lighter body of some 1.3+ tons and different weight distribution means that driving dynamics is quite different.

There are three modes of driving – Manual, Sport or Comfort.

On the road, we find the SLK easy to drive, cruising around effortlessly without that ‘thoroughbred’ feeling, but responding to an exuberant driving style the moment foot is pressed to the pedal.

Response is instantaneous, and although its zero-to-100kph time is about 8.2 seconds (not the fastest kid on the block), it still gives a good account of itself if pushed. Driven in anger, it remains sure-footed and agile, and the ride is on the firm side of comfortable.

The four-wheel independent suspension has many aluminium parts that help to reduce unsprung weight and improve driving dynamics. Also built-in is ESP (electronic stability programme), ABS, EBD and BA.

The SLK 200 is designed as a roadster, and this version is the entry level model for its range. Other engine options include a 3.0-litre, 3.5-litre and the top-of-the-range AMG at a humongous 5.0-litre.

The SLK 200 is not an out-and-out racer, being designed more as an elegant roadster for weekend drives with the top down and the wind in one’s hair.

But then, there is nothing to stop you from using it daily, mindful of the fact that it is a strict two-seater.

At RM483,888, the SLK 200 is a good RM120,000+ more expensive than the E200, and over RM200k more than the C200, but well-worth the price for the person with everything.


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