Published on December 27th, 2013 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Mercedes SLK 230K 1999 model used car review
Many of us dream of driving a sports convertible however we worry about mall parking and overnight safety. Car thieves are not the big problem. It is the petty criminals that tear open the top with a knife to gain entry and steal your stereo, toll plaza tag, handphone accessory and loose change that is the worry. So what’s a sun-seeking driver to do here in Malaysia?
One solution came from Germany in 1997 in the form of the Mercedes-Benz SLK230 convertible hardtop, the first modern production car to combine the structural and weather-resistance benefits of a hardtop with the “cool” factor of a great looking two-seat convertible. It was a short car at 3,995 mm in length and was one of the sportier models in the Benz line-up at the time of its launch, and while its 1,325 kg curb weight was pretty hefty for a little car, that’s not bad considering all the hardware needed to make that folding roof work. Going from coupe (or so it appeared with the top up) to convertible took 25 seconds, during which time the roof would fold in half and stow itself in a compartment behind the seats which was quite the show! However this reduced compartment space in the boot, which filled up when the folding metal hood came down.
The first released versions of the SLK230s were powered by a supercharged 2.3 litre, four-cylinder engine that made 185 horsepower. While it was capable of decent performance, this engine was not very refined and sounded pretty rough and loud, especially compared to the engines available in the SLK’s immediate competitors: the Porsche Boxster and the BMW Z3. The KOMPRESSOR (German for supercharger) takes the power output of the in-line 4 cylinder engine to greater heights allowing for immediate power delivery at low gear and better top end speed. However its engine idle note and crescendo across the rev range was very un-sporty.
For the first year of production, all SLKs had a five-speed automatic transmission as the only choice, leaving dedicated gear-rowers to look elsewhere for their pure driving fun. While the basic six-cylinder engine was smoother and more powerful than the four-cylinder, it didn’t exact too harsh a penalty on fuel economy. Depending on model year, fuel consumption for the four-cylinder SLK230 is between 11 and 12 L/100 km. Highway consumption works out to between 7 and 8-liters/100km, pretty decent for a hefty sports car.
For reliability, the SLK’s basic mechanical components like engines and gearboxes seem to hold up well just like its sedan brothers. Running costs should sit in the region of a C-Class, which puts it in reach of most 8k a month wage-earning enthusiasts. Keep in mind that while the SLK’s folding roof is cool, stylish and sexy, it can be expensive to repair when it malfunctions. Finding a good well looked after SLK is no problem and most are 2nd or 3rd cars in the family garage. Mostly women have been seen behind the wheel however the appeal is with both sexes. First check has to go for the metal hood. Make sure that there are no hydraulic leaks as this is the first sign of expensive trouble. Then make sure the hood folds evenly and opens evenly also. Check the rubber seals at the edges for cracks. The doors should not sag when you open them and the shut lines must be even. Normal repair and parts costs for higher-end cars such as this can be pricey too, so be sure to do your research before buying to make sure you don’t end up with a car you can’t afford to maintain properly. Asking price starts at RM70,000 and moves upwards depending on year and model. While its cool roof and clean styling definitely play in the SLK’s favour, the rough base engine and the ‘two only’ seating are turn-offs. But if you want a stylish drop top suitable for all weather use, this is probably the car for you.