Mercedes Benz SLK 250 CD1 – Review
By Liam Bird
Petrol or diesel? It’s a question most of us have been asking ourselves recently, especially when the time comes to change the car. Petrol engines promise more power, less rattle and more refinement, whereas diesels deliver more torque and better mpg; providing of course you can cope with the noise.
Pass by your local filling station and the decision becomes ever harder. Diesel is more expensive, but then it goes further, right? So the extra few pence per litre are offset by how much further it will take you. Well, that’s the theory anyway; the argument goes on and on. So much so that every year out of all of the new cars sold, approximately 50% are petrol and 50% are diesel.
When it comes to sports cars though, things are different. Despite advances in diesel technology, improved performance and giant leaps forward in terms of refinement, everything from Mazda’s MX5 to Aston Martin’s Vantage Volante remain purely petrol-powered. There are more and more diesel Cabrios available now than ever, but so far only Mercedes-Benz have build a two-seat, rear-drive drop-top that runs on diesel.
“Ample torque reserves”
With the promise of a top-speed of 151mph, 0-62 in 6.7 seconds and a combined mpg figure of 56.5, on paper at least, their SLK 250 CDI offers the best of both worlds. You get the sports car looks but not the gas-guzzling running costs. A 132g/km CO2 figure is pretty impressive too. Also the diesel SLK is nearly £2k cheaper than its thirstier petrol equivalent. So what’s not to like?
Well nothing really, if you’re into using your roadster purely to be seen in. As a well appointed, beautifully built cruiser the SLK works well. The seven-speed auto ‘box makes the most of the engine’s ample torque reserves and it’s easy to just sit back behind the beautifully chunky flat bottomed steering wheel, relax, and let the car do all the work. Weather permitting, pulling up on the little switch between the seats and letting the hard-top perform its balletic folding process also means you’ll draw plenty of attention too. Just make sure you haven’t stuffed the boot full though, all that metal has to go somewhere you know.
“On the hard side”
But it’s when you want the SLK to behave like a proper sports-car that things aren’t quite what they should be. Despite being a very nice way to travel, the SLK doesn’t offer the most invigorating of driving experiences. On all but billiard board smooth tarmac the ride – if you’ve picked the optional AMG sports suspension and 18-inch alloys – is definitely on the hard side. The engine note seems a little too working class for the SLK’s suave and sophisticated styling – roof up or down it’s pretty intrusive – and, despite it’s decent handling the SLK doesn’t reward or involve the driver in the way its mini SLS Gullwing (think Formula 1 pace-car) looks suggest it should.
With a price tag of £43,810 “my” SLK came loaded to the gunnels with all kinds of optional extras, some of which were greatly appreciated. The digital radio and heated seats made a winter morning’s commute so much more palatable. Even without the extra luxuries though, the SLK still costs £36,225, meaning it’s unlikely that I’ll be picking my paint colour soon. However, should the chance to do so arise, when it comes to picking my engine choice, in order to get my sports car thrills, I’ve a feeling I’ll tick the box marked petrol.
Mercedes Benz SLK 250 BlueEfficiency AMG Sport
Engine: 2143cc 4Cyl 16V turbo-diesel
Transmission: 7 speed G-Tronic, automatic
Power: 204bhp @4200pm
Torque: 367 lbft @1600rpm
Max Speed: 151mph
MPG: 56.5 combined
Price: £36,225 (car driven: £43,810)