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2004 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

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2004 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Review

Nice combination of roadster fun and hardtop safety in a classy and stylish ride.

Reviewed by Automotive on

Overview

The 2004 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class cars are two-seat roadsters with varying degrees of engine size and power. It offers a lot in the way of driving thrills and features an easy-to-use power retractable top, nice gear, a roomy cockpit, and the performance one expects from a fine German automaker. It should be noted, however; that just as much or even more performance and driving thrills can be had in class for less money.

The Range

Body Styles: convertible
Engines: 2.3-liter four-cylinder, 3.2-liter V-6
Transmissions: six-speed manual, five-speed automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz SLK230, Mercedes-Benz SLK320, Mercedes-Benz SLK32 AMG

What's New

For 2004, the SLK-Class gets a Special Edition that includes unique 17-inch wheels, Nappa leather trim for the sport seats and roll bar, chrome accents around the windows and a color-keyed front grille and rear spoiler.

Exterior

The 2004 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class roadsters are available in three trims: SLK230, SLK320, and the serious performance-based SLK32 AMG. The SLK320 starts off with 16-inch wheels, a push-button activated retractable hardtop, and mirror-integrated turn signal flashers. Moving up to the SLK320 trim gets the buyer a bigger and more powerful engine. The SLK32 AMG offers yet an even more powerful engine, upgraded performance suspension, and 17-inch wheels.

When it comes to cars of the sporting variety, styling counts, and the SLK cars will catch attention with its aerodynamic, wedge-shaped bodies and sleek lines. The stylization of these roadsters is rather nice and keeps up with other stylish and sporty looking rivals in this segment.

Interior

The cabin of the SLK230 starts off with standard gear like dual-zone air-conditioning, leather seats, an interior air filter, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated seats, keyless entry, and a Bose cassette stereo with six speakers, including two subwoofers. The SLK320 adds real wood trim, eight-way power seats, and a telescoping steering wheel. Stepping up to the SLK23 AMG adds sport seats upholstered in Nappa leather that features integrated headrests, and what Mercedes-Benz calls ""substantial"" side bolsters. Leather trim and dark bird’s-eye maple are also included.

While the word ?spacious? seems odd to use when describing the cockpit of a roadster, the SLK-Class cars do offer the two occupants a nice amount of room. The cabin has all of the requisite features and is rather comfortable with seats that brace well for the roadster driving fun experience. The ergonomics are solid, and the dash layout is easy to read.

Performance & Handling

The SLK230 Kompressor roadster starts off with a supercharged, 2.3-liter, four-cylinder engine producing 192 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. The SLK320 upgrades to a 215-horsepower, 3.2-liter V-6 that makes 229 lb-ft of torque. Both engines can be mated to either a six-speed-manual gearbox or an optional five-speed automatic that incorporates TouchShift manual gear selection. The SLK32 AMG packs a supercharged, 3.2-liter V-6 that kicks out 349 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the AMG SpeedShift five-speed-automatic transmission used on the SLK32 AMG produces shifts that are up to 35 percent faster than those of a conventional automatic. In Mercedes-Benz own testing, the SLK32 AMG ran the zero-to-60-mph sprint in just 4.8 seconds. Suffice it to say that serious performance is available in the SLK-Class cars for driving enthusiasts willing to pay the cost for such fun.

The SLK-Class cars offer the handling one expects from a roadster. These two-seat cars offer no practicality or utility, there are solely for driving pleasure, cruising and fun. The SLK-Class cars fit the bill nicely with confident, road-chewing handling, and fun-to-drive operation. It may not be quite as solid or smooth as the larger Mercedes-Benz sedans, but quite enough for pure driving fun.

Safety

The SLK-Class offers standard safety equipment like all-disc anti-lock brakes, side-impact airbags, traction control, emergency braking assist, and an Electronic Stability Program. Also standard is a BabySmart child seat-recognition system that prevents the front-passenger airbag from deploying when a known child-safety seat is installed. Neither the NHTSA nor the IIHS have performed crash safety tests on the SLK-Class vehicle, so the list of safety gear will have to suffice as far as convincing prospective buyers of the inherent safety value of these cars.

EPA Fuel Economy

Mercedes-Benz SLK230: 19/26 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz SLK320: 17/24 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz SLK23 AMG: 15/21 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Retractable hardtop
  • Handling
  • Highway ride that is quiet and well-mannered

You Won't Like

  • Pricey for class
  • Visibility issues with top up
  • No standard CD player
  • No steering feedback

Sum Up

Nice combination of roadster fun and hardtop safety in a classy and stylish ride.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Lexus SC 430
  • Honda S2000
  • Porsche Boxster
  • Nissan 350Z
  • BMW Z4

See the New 2015 SLK-Class.

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