Mercedes launched the second generation of its compact two-seater with a power-retractable hardtop as a 2005 model. A new SLK280 model powered by a new V-6 engine joins the SLK350 and SLK55 AMG in the model range for 2006.
Like the Mercedes SL, the SLK features a power-retractable hardtop for quick conversion from coupe to open-air roadster. At the touch of a button, the cars convert from coupe to convertible or back in 22 seconds. In addition to using design inspired by Mercedes-powered McLaren Formula One racing cars, the new SLKs offer an optional Airscarf system that blows hot air through the seatback to neck-level outlets in the driver and passenger seats. For optimum comfort, the system automatically adjusts the airflow to vehicle speed.
The newest addition to the lineup is the SLK280, which features Mercedes' new 3.0 L V-6 engine that pumps out 228 hp through a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission. Returning are the SLK350 and SLK55 AMG. The SLK350 is powered by a 268-hp, 3.5L V-6, again available with either a manual or automatic transmission. The high-performance version is the SLK55 AMG, which is powered by a hand-built 355-hp 5.5L V-8 from Mercedes' in-house hot-rod shop AMG. This ultimate SLK rides on 18-inch wheels and can sprint to 60 mph in less than five seconds. Like all Mercedes models, the SLKs are equipped with electronic stability controls and a host of advanced active and passive safety equipment.
The Mercedes-Benz SLK competes in the Compact Premium Sporty segment, a crowded group of cars with cutting-edge design and better than average performance capabilities.
According to the J.D. Power and Associates Sales Report,SM the sales leader for calendar year 2005 was the Nissan 350Z (27,278), followed by the Acura RSX (20,809), Mercedes-Benz CLK (18,227), Chrysler Crossfire (14,665), Mercedes-Benz SLK (11,278), BMW Z4 (10,045), Porsche Boxster (7,879) and Cayman, Honda S2000 (7,780), Saab 9-2X (5,940), Audi TT (2,822), and the Volvo C70 (1,442).