The original Mercedes-Benz SLK was introduced for the 1998 model year as the company’s entry into the premium small roadster segment. Its distinguishing feature then was its power-retractable hardtop, which offered more security and a quieter ride than the ragtop roofs typical of the segment. The first-generation SLK-Class sold from 1998 through 2004, and the 2005 model is completely redesigned, kicking off the SLK’s second generation.
Body Styles: roadster
Engines: 3.5-liter V-6, 5.4-liter V-8
Transmissions: six-speed manual, seven-speed shiftable automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz SLK350, Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG
The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is completely redesigned for 2005, which its eighth year on the market.
The redesigned two-seat convertible has new styling features and two new engine offerings. It’s slightly larger and heavier than its 1998-2004 predecessors, but the extra weight is matched by heftier engine performance. The base model, the SLK350, has a 3.5-liter V-6 that generates 53 more horsepower than the previous model. The high-performance SLK55 AMG has a 355-horsepower 5.4-liter V-8. An option on both models is a brand new feature that Mercedes calls the Airscarf. It places a heater and fan in each seatback to deliver heated air through neck-level vents, making top-down driving comfortable even in cooler weather.
The first thing a buyer will notice about the SLK-Class is that the 2005 model features a different front end than its predecessors. A large, three-pointed star logo with small grilles on each side is designed to resemble Mercedes’ knew SLR McLaren supercar, which in turn is inspired by the Silver Arrow Formula One racecars. The SLK’s new fascia features an arrow-shaped nose and a long hood. Nearly three inches longer and wider than previous models, the new SLK-Class features a steeply sloped windshield and a new dual-exhaust layout at the rear. The retractable hardtop goes up or down at the push of a button in around 22 seconds and has been modified to take up less trunk space when down. Built on a 95.7-inch wheelbase, the SLK-Class roadster measures 160.7 inches long overall and stands 51.1 inches tall.
The entry-level SLK350 features 17-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, speed-sensitive wipers, a rear defogger, multilink front and rear suspension, daytime running lights, front foglights, remote power door locks and window operation, power heated mirrors with reverse-tilt and turn signal repeaters, and auto-delay-off, dusk-sensing headlamps. The SLK55 AMG includes all the exterior features of the base model and rides on 18-inch polished alloy wheels.
The 2005 SLK-Class’ redesigned interior features silver-colored switches and trim. A sculpted dashboard blends into the door panels on each side and contains large, chronometer-style gauges. With the top up, the trunk can hold 9.8 cubic feet of cargo. This is reduced somewhat with the top down, but there are still 6.5 cubic feet of space for luggage. The SLK350 features leather upholstery, height-adjustable sport front seats, dual-zone climate control with air filtration, alloy trim on the center console and dash, alloy and leather trim on the doors, a leather-trimmed shift knob, and a leather-wrapped, tilt/telescopic steering wheel. A nine-speaker AM/FM in-dash CD player stereo and TeleAid communications system are also standard. The SLK55 AMG adds eight-way power front seats with multilevel heating, one-touch operation of all four windows, an electrochromatic rearview mirror, and memorized settings, including climate control and steering wheel adjustments for three drivers.
Performance & Handling
The 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLK350 has a new, 3.5-liter V-6 that powers the rear-drive systems. With variable valve timing for both intake and exhaust valves, the V-6 generates 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed automatic transmission with Touch Shift operation may be installed. The optional SLK350 Sport Package adds a firmer suspension, high-performance tires on different-style 17-inch wheels, lower-body aero trim, and steering-wheel shift buttons for the automatic transmission. The SLK55 AMG runs on a 5.4-liter V-8 capable of 355 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. This engine comes only with the seven-speed shiftable automatic transmission and rear drive.
Standard safety features on the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class include four wheel anti-lock disc brakes with emergency brake assist, dual side-mounted front airbags with head protection chambers, passenger airbag occupant-sensing deactivation, front seatbelt pretensioners, child seat anchors, stability control, and traction control.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz SLK350, manual: 16/23 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz SLK350, automatic: 17/23 mpg city/highway
Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG: 14/20 mpg city/highway
- Handles like a sports car
- Convenient retractable hardtop
- Upscale interior design
- Powerful V-6
You Won't Like
- Impeded visibility with top up
- Two-passenger limit
- Limited cargo space
A fun-to-drive luxury roadster.
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