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New baby for SA SLK range

2013-07-11 12:37

AND THAT MAKES THREE... Mercedes-Benz SA has added its SLK 250 BlueEfficiency to its iconic roadster model line-up. Image: JANINE-LEE GORDON

Author: JANINE-LEE GORDON

 
Mercedes-Benz has added another model to its SLK line-up - the 250 BlueEfficiency. It might not pack the same punch as its 350 sibling but it sure looks pretty in its AMG Sports Line kit.

The SLK baby model might not be the perfect choice to throw around Kyamali racetrack, but it does make a good platform to show off the techology under its hood. Wheels24's JANINE-LEE GORDON got to grips with the model around the famous Gauteng track.

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It’s not the fastest car to complete a 400m sprint and you certainly shouldn’t be revving it up at the robots despite its tempting throaty exhausts. It has no launch control but when trying to jump off the line, it was sluggish. At least there's enough power to overtake on the long road, just make sure you have enough road ahead.

DYNAMITE PACKAGE?

The new 250 model is powered by the 1.8 engine borrowed from its 200 sibling (135kW), now tuned to produce 150kW.

Mated to a seven-speed auto, the roadster consumes 7.3 litres/100km with an emissions rating of 169g/km. The roadster sprints from 0-100 km/h in 6.6 seconds to a top speed of 243km/h.

Mercedes-Benz SA's marketing manager Selvin Govender says: “The four-cylinder engines for the SLK are homogeneous direct injection and turbocharged, leading to advantages such as lower weight and reduced in-engine friction. These engines move the operating range of the characteristic map towards more favourable values, incredible power and torque and lower fuel consumption.

“The four-cylinder roadsters, the 200 and 250 BlueEfficiency models, are also equipped with the AMG Sports Line that expresses their special character acoustically – with an even sportier engine sound.”

The suspension has also been tweaked and it’s now lower with a stiffer springs and dampers. Wheel size is up from 17 to 18” twin-spoke, light alloys while tyres are 225/40 at the front and 245/35 in the rear. The bigger perforated brake discs and callipers also have Mercedes-Benz lettering.

ACQUIRED TASTE

Thing is, it’s a crooner’s car through and through and it’s made for those who want to feel the wind in their hair. No matter what you say about performance, the SLK 200 has great looks. And no, it’s not "just for girls" or “hairdressers”.

The SLK AMG Sport Line standard kit gives the range a new look. It's not assertive as the big daddy SLK 55 AMG or the V12 Biturbo SL 65 AMG. Its design is an acquired taste.

The front end is more muscular with standard LED daytime running lights, the side skirts more protruding and even the bum looks like it now means business. The headlights have new dark surrounds while the rear lights are also tinted with a smokey look.

Overall, while the the front-end is sexy, the short rear makes it appear unsymmetrical.

Contrasting stitching, red seat-belts and perforated leather in the grip area of the steering wheel can often be a tad much, so all of this is available as an option – free of charge.

There’s also a new "chequered flag" design on the instrument cluster, while black floor-mats with red piping and an AMG logo finishes off the interior. Less is more and it works as the dash is uncluttered with the straight-forward facia.

Govender says:  “While further enhancing the sporty appearance of the SLK range with the AMG Sport Line, we have also added a new engine derivative, the SLK 250 BlueEfficiency.

“Buying trends have shown that there are customers looking for the additional power and torque in a four-cylinder engine.”

The Germans are always trying to be innovative with car technology and the SLK has brought world-first niceties since it made its debut in 1996. The first generation SLK saw its roof open and close with a touch of a button in just a few seconds. The second generation saw the Airscarf feature which blows warm air around the passenger and driver’s neck and shoulders.

When the third generation was launched in 2011, Mercedes introduced the transparent vario-roof with "magic sky" control which makes the glass fade from light to dark.

Standard goodies include adaptive brake lights, attention assist, neck-pro head restraints, ‘headbags’ in the doors, electric parking brake (EPB), reversible floor in the boot, tyre pressure warning and sun-reflecting leather for cooler seats.

AND MORE...

Options include a red ambient lighting, analogue clock on the dashboard, illuminated door sill panels, the Comand online with internet access, 18cm colour display and central controller, distronic plus, keyless-go, parktronic with park guidance, airguide draught stoppers, MAG carbon fibre trim and a Harmon Kardon surround sound.

My biggest gripe with this car would be the excessive wind coming into the car while the top is down. Yes, it’s a convertible, but there are other models which are less expensive that don’t leave your hair in a complete fizzle. It was an unusually windy day in Pretoria, so much that my driving partner and I had trouble conversing. The perspex draught stoppers hardly seem adequate when travelling at high speeds.

The airscarf is a nifty treat and does a good job in frigid conditions.

The SLK 250 comes standard with a six-year or 100 000km maintenance plan.

Mercedes-Benz will introduced its "dream cars" campaign to grow sales. Govender says this is a "combined concept that we are rolling out through our customer activities around our coupe, cabriolet and roadster model series."

These include the new E-Class coupe and cabriolet models, the SLK and SL sports cars; CL, CLS and CLS Shooting Brake, SLS AMG Coupe and Roadster models.

PRICES
SLK 200 BlueEfficiency        R579 238
SLK 250 BlueEfficiency        R635 811
SLK 350 BlueEfficiency    R763 673


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