Used 2000 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Convertible Review

The SLK is a fun car that needs and deserves more power to keep pace with increasingly stronger competition.




what's new

Designo editions debut and include special paint and trim in either Copper or Electric Green hues.

vehicle overview

A few years ago, the gang at the three-pointed star decided that it was time to ditch their dowdy image and begin attracting younger buyers. The result of that decision is the SLK-Class roadster, introduced in 1997 to instant critical acclaim. The SLK-Class's big selling point is its exclusive retractable steel roof that, when raised, makes the car seem as tight and insulated as a Benz sedan. In less than 30 seconds, you can convert the SLK-Class from a closed coupe to a cool convertible without leaving the driver seat.

Mercedes got the recipe almost right the first time. The original was available only with an automatic transmission, which sent sports car purists packing. Last year, Mercedes equipped the car with a manual transmission as standard equipment, making the slushbox optional. While not appreciably quicker, the manual at least offers buyers the option of selecting their own gears, which is fun when combined with the SLK-Class's precise steering, willing supercharged powerplant, and wonderfully damped suspension.

The 185-horsepower SLK-Class's 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine provides 200 pound-feet of torque, available between 2,500 and 4,800 rpm, making it a choice convertible for carving through traffic or up a spiraling mountain road. The SLK-Class races to 60 mph in about seven seconds, but some think the exhaust note sounds more flatulent than fiery.

An optional sport package doesn't cure the exhaust blat, but does include a muscular-looking body kit and thick 17-inch treads mounted to AMG Monoblock wheels. Designo editions with special paint and trim are also available this year. The Copper and Electric Green models include plenty of interior and exterior trim in those colors.

Front and side airbags are standard, along with ABS and automatic slip control. The SLK-Class also has a super-reinforced A-pillar, integrated roll bars behind each seat and emergency tensioning seatbelt retractors for enhanced rollover protection. BrakeAssist applies full braking force before you can. A BabySmart system allows owners to use a special car seat sold by Benz dealers that keeps the passenger airbag from deploying in an accident. Here's our question: Why no cutoff switch like Mazda and other manufacturers offer?

Inside, the SLK-Class charms with retro gauges and polished aluminum bezels. Stainless steel, chrome and carbon-fiber accents, along with available two-tone leather, complete the look. Bose audio and automatic dual-zone climate controls are standard. Metallic paint and heated seats are not.

Roadsters are plentiful these days. Many makers are introducing them, and others are infusing existing models with more power and equipment. The SLK-Class is aging rapidly in this quickly changing segment, but is still the only one to offer the convenience of a hardtop and the benefits of top-down cruising in a single, easy-to-use package. That might be all it needs to ensure continued success. But we'd like more power to make the price palatable.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.