|Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s two other ‘niche’ variants the SLK200 roadster and CLS350 deserve more than short overviews. The next generation Mercedes-Benz roadster and latest 4-door Coupe also come in AMG trims and advance into true aficionados’ desired cars – the SLK 55 AMG (above left) and CLS 63 AMG.|
The 3rd generation SLK has a markedly bolder and striking exterior, and at the same time, delivers adequate performance and an open-air driving experience. This succinct roadster first arrived to the scene in 1996 and immediately got the motoring media abuzz with the vario-roof, which transformed the wide-open roadster into a Coupe with a fixed roof at a touch of a button in just 20 seconds or more (22 secs with the 3rd-gen SLKs). The second generation was stepped up to include the warm AIRSCARF around the neck and shoulders of the occupants, ensuring pleasurable open-top driving. Now the third generation presents further highlights of Mercedes-Benz’s exemplary roadster features, exterior, interior, powertrains and safety equipments.
Design of the SLK roadster has progressed from a classic interface to a modernistic approach. Behind the long bonnet is a compact passenger compartment positioned far back, and a short tail end. At the front, the eye-catching upright grille stands proud as it facilitates the long and well-proportioned bonnet and rearward contours. The clearly defined headlamps complete the look for the new SLK’s face, which resembles that of the legendary 190SL from the ’50s. In the current era, the SLK’s front end creates a close visual link with the SLS AMG gull-wing and the CLS.
The SLK200’s side view is highlighted by ventilation grilles with a chromed fin on the font feeder. Double-chromed exhausts and wide LED rearlights define its rear motif.
Interior-wise, the SLK200 has the most compact dimensions in its class. The interior is characterized by sporty refinement, thoughtful ergonomics and high quality, authentic materials. Brushed aluminium trim provides a luxurious connotation for the center console and four galvanized air outlets integrated in the dashboard, again inheriting some elements from the SLS. The SLK’s generous dial instruments are flanked by a display for the information generated by an online PC. A color display and analog clock are housed in the center to underline the roadster’s interior characteristics. Other items include a multifunction sports steering with flattened lower section and a thick leather trim, plus sun reflecting nappa leather. Another innovation for the SLK is the draught-stop system known as the AIRGUIDE (above right). The Airguides are located at the driver’s and passenger’s headrests and they function to tame turbulent air flow.
The SLK has three engine variations, however MBM plans to distribute the 200 on a frequent basis, whereas the 250 and top-of-the-line 350 are only available upon requests. The SLK200 houses a 4-cyclinder inline engine with a 1,800 displacement, mated to a 7G-TRONIC PLUS seven-speed transmission. The roadster outputs 184 hp and 270 Nm of torque and goes 0 – 100 km/h in 7 seconds. And it could achieve a top speed of 237km/h.
When it comes to handling and driving experience, the SLK200 with the Dynamic Handling package enables almost precise driving dynamics. The dynamic handling package includes an electronically controlled, fully automatic damping system, Torque vectoring brakes and Direct-Steer system. This means that the vehicle has exemplary suspension comfort even on adverse-roads, while torque vectoring gives an even rotational movement of the vehicle about the vertical axis in fractions of seconds through selective brake actuation at the rear wheel on the inside of a bend or corner. In other words, it steers into a corner more precisely and in control. The Direct-steer offers more handling and agility than the standard steering as well as reduces stress of parking the roadster, for certain drivers.
Safety equipments within the SLK200 include a new bodyshell, with the bonnet and wings now made of aluminium, Attention Assist, and optional Pre-Safe protection and Intelligent Light systems.
Mercedes-Benz claims that every CLS is a one-off variant due to the individuality factor. The four-door coupe has sold over 170,000 units worldwide since ’04, with 164 units delivered in Malaysia.
The 2nd-generation CLS Coupé launched globally last year has attracted strong interest thanks to its exciting design and refined sportiness. The innovative front design is reminiscent of the SLS AMG, much like the SLK variant. Visually, the radiator grille is not integrated but formed separately, highlighting its long sporty bonnet. The elegantly long proportions dominate the look of the new model while the effect of the dynamic, athletic form has been enhanced with a new interplay of lines and areas. Novel features include the front edge of the structure above the wings which slopes off towards the rear and lightweight construction making it the first vehicle from Mercedes-Benz to have frameless, all-aluminium doors.
The suspension system is enhanced with a key new component – the electromechanical power steering system that made its debut in the CLS. Fuel consumption is reduced through two significant aspects. The steering system contributes to overall efficiency as it only uses energy when the vehicle is actually being steered while the four engines available offer higher output and torque and lesser fuel consumption of up to 25 percent.
Two variants are available in the Malaysian market – the CLS 350 BlueEFFICIENCY with 306 hp and through special order, the CLS 500 BlueEFFICIENCY, with a V8 engine and 408 hp.
The SLK200 carries a price tag of RM 460,888, while the CLS350 tops out at RM760,888.
View our C180 feature here: http://www.motorsportchannel.com/web/2012/0116/1753.html
For gallery visit : http://www.motorsportchannel.com/web/2012/0116/1751.html