The SLK is a compact roadster manufactured by Mercedes-Benz in three generations; R170 launched in 1996, the R171 in 2004 and R172 in 2011.
As one of the first modern retractable hardtop convertibles, the SLK followed the 1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder and preceded other retractable hardtops such as the Peugeot 206cc, Lexus SC, Pontiac G6 and the Chrysler Sebring. The SLK Vario-roof was first shown on the SLK II concept car at the 1994 Paris Motor Show. The car went on sale two years later in Europe, and in 1997 in the US. The SLK isbuilt in Bremen, Germany.
The designation SLK derives from the company's design mission to create a roadster that was at once sporty, light and short — in German: Sportlich, Leicht und Kurz.
Models of the new SLK include:
* SLK 200 Kompressor - 1.8 L 120 kW (163 PS; 161 hp) I4 supercharged engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 7.9 seconds, top speed of 143 mph. (not available in Canada and the United States)
* SLK 300 (known as SLK 280 in some markets) - 3.0 L (2996 cc) 170 kW (231 PS; 228 hp) double overhead cam V6 engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 6.3 seconds, top speed 155 mph. (starting in 2006 model year)
* SLK 350 - new 3.5 L (3498 cc) 200 kW (272 PS; 268 hp) double overhead cam V6 engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 5.4 seconds, top speed 155 mph (electronically limited).
* SLK 55 AMG - 5.4 L (5439 cc) 265 kW (360 PS; 355 hp) V8 engine, 0–100 km/h (62 mph) 4.9 seconds (officially time), tested speed 4.3 seconds, top speed 155 mph (249 km/h). A tuned version of this was used as the Formula One safety car, replaced by CLK 63 AMG at the beginning of 2006 Season. The SLK55 AMG was the first Mercedes tuned by AMG's Performance Studio to a Black Series model.
Mercedes-Benz announced the new SLK in the autumn of 2010, several months prior to its official 2011 launch, allowing car magazines to drive disguised test cars. The company took the unusual step of issuing several press releases in October and November 2010 announcing new features such as "Magic Sky Control". In January 2011 the car was officially announced.
The SLK became a symbol of the brand image with a powerful halo effect and brought new customers to Mercedes-Benz. Some 42 per cent of the drivers in Western Europe who chose the roadster were new Mercedes customers