The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is a two-door sports coupe convertible. It is a front-engine, rear-wheel drive vehicle. Mercedes-Benz classifies the SLK-Class as a roadster and it features a retractable hardtop. The car is noted for its speed and handling. It is available as the base line SLK300 or the upgraded SLK350. The SLK-Class seats two and has a very limited cargo capacity, making this a car most appropriate for individuals without children.
The SLK-Class has two available engine models. The SLK300 features a 3.0-liter, V6 engine that can generate 228 horsepower and the SLK350 has a 3.5-liter, V6 that produces 300 horsepower. The baseline SLK300 can go from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. The SLK300 is available as a seven-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission, while the SLK350 is available only as a seven-speed automatic. Both feature anti-lock brakes with brake assist and speed-sensitive steering. An electronic stability system and multilink suspension add to the SLK-Class' appeal, as does automatic collision notification. It has 9.6 cubic feet of trunk space, though this already small area decreases to 6.5 cubic feet when the top is down. The SLK-Class demonstrates above-average fuel economy with a rating of 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
Mercedes-Benz debuted the SLK-Class as a concept car at the Turin Motor Show in 1994. A second concept car, which debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 1995, further refined the SLK-Class' sleek lines and performance specifications. Production began in 1996. Four years later, the car introduced new front and rear bumper designs. Another redesign, presented at the Detroit Motor Show in 2008, included upgraded engines and better fuel economy. As of 2011, it continues to be sold by Mercedes-Benz.
The SLK-Class is available with leather seats, chrome door handle inserts and dual-zone climate control. Burl walnut wood trim adds to the luxury, as does the convertible hardtop that can be raised or lowered in just 22 seconds. A trip computer calculates average speed and fuel economy and displays it for the driver. Front, side and knee airbags, combined with a fixed hoop convertible rollover protection, add to the car's safety. The steering wheel features mounted audio controls and the sound system includes MP3 compatibility with nine speakers. The SLK-Class also includes cruise control and rear window windshield wipers.
Car and Driver named the SLK-Class to its Ten Best List in 1997. The magazine also named it North American Car of the Year in 1998. It won the 2004 Red Dot Award for product design and the 2012 production model features Mercedes-Benz' award-winning PRESAFE® crash protection system
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