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Mercedes-Benz SLK

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4/10

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Road Test

Mercedes-Benz SLK 200 Blue Efficiency driven

Driven October 2011

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This, the cheapest SLK in the range, could be Merc's equivalent of the Mazda MX-5: small of size, modest of power, rear of drive.

Especially because - unlike any of the beefier SLKs - you can spec the 200 with a strange knobbly lump between driver and passenger seat, something called a ‘gearstick'. This ‘gearstick' is a rare sight in modern Mercs: 90 per cent of previous-gen SLKs were autos.

On paper, the three-pedal SLK is a pleasing blend of ‘go' and ‘green', its 1.8-litre turbo producing 181bhp, but returning over 40mpg. But this is no MX-5 rival. Despite a crisp manual transmission, the SLK200 has all the fizz of week-old cola. Not that it's a bad car, just a sensible one. The engine is tidily unenthusiastic and the cabin is nicely trimmed, but the fact is that the SLK200 simply isn't much fun to drive, and overall refinement is decidedly average.

If you want a fizzier SLK, we'd advise upgrading to the SLK250. We suspect most potential SLK200 buyers will be more concerned by its pricetag than its performance: so it's worth considering that you can pick up the 158bhp Audi TT cabrio for £4,000 less.

Sam Philip

We like: Efficient, good-looking
We don't like: Less-than-perfect refinement
The verdict: Cheapest SLK is entirely inoffensive but hardly a whole barrel of laughs
Performance: 0-62mph in 7.3secs, max 149mph, 41.5mpg
Tech: 1796cc, 4cyl, RWD, 181bhp, 199lb ft, 1435kg, 158g/km CO2
Tick this on the options list: Panoramic vario-roof, £410
Avoid this: Ambient interior lighting, £245
Price: £29,980

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