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  • A smaller version of the SL that does everything the SL does, except in a slightly quieter way. Kylie to the SL's Madonna

The SLK is the same recipe as the SL (rear-drive, folding metal hardtop, two-seater) but in a slightly smaller portion. Still has an engine range that runs from relatively normal to the completely banzai, still makes a lot of sense.

  • Comfort

    Firm, but cosy over distance. The added security of a well-sorted folding tin-top really helps to isolate you from the vagaries of the British climate and adds a measure of security too. The steering is better thanks to recent upgrades across the range. It feels good, though not as long-distancey as it's bigger, fatter brother.

  • Performance

    Thanks to the car's recent facelift all the engines (apart from the SLK55's V8) have been modified slightly to give more power. So the 1.8-litre supercharged engine in the SLK200 (now with 184bhp) is more than adequate but the best in the range is the SLK350. It makes a bit more noise than before, is more economical and slightly quicker. Not hugely surprising. However, headline news is still the SLK55 AMG, which will have Porsche owners weeping quietly into their flat sixes, with a 360bhp V8 and a 0-100kph time of 4.9 seconds.

  • Cool

    Again, you can't really go wrong with a two-seater, convertible sportscar. Unless its called the Storm.

  • Quality

    Merc quality remains true to its standards. Dash layout is ordinary.

  • Handling

    Has the same excellent handling as before but the steering is new and that's clever. Merc has altered the gearing on the rack bit of rack and pinion, which essentially means you get more steering lock for less twirling on the wheel It's a cleverly simple idea because it avoids any electronic trickery and will therefore be a cheap option but we're not convinced. The steering is slightly sharper, but it's still no Porsche Boxster in terms of feedback, and in all honesty we're not sure many SLK owners will really know the difference. So the question is, why did Merc bother?

  • Practicality

    As usual a decent folding hardtop will eat into what otherwise looks like a pretty decent volume for stuff in the boot. There's ok room for people of six foot and under in the front, and with the roof down it feels positively spacious.

  • Running costs

    The Mercedes Benz SLK is easily one of the most useable and affordable of the premium coupe-cabriolets/roadsters. They all turn in a decent fuel economy. Private buyers, though, can expect rock solid residuals.