Mercedes-Benz hopes to tug at the emotional cords of buyers with their range of coupe and convertible models. The marketing folk said the new SLK 250 AMG Sport Line derivative would fulfill drop-top dreams.

Mercedes SLK 1

It’s not an all-new model, but a new offering in the existing range. The 250 AMG boasts a four-cylinder turbocharged engine, with a 1.8-litre capacity. Also, Mercedes has made the AMG exterior kit standard across the range. It’s a worthy rival to the BMW Z4 sDrive28i – which also has a four-cylinder mill with forced induction.

Racing driver Clint Weston joined us in the passenger seat at the launch. He kept his composure as well as the car did – despite our “giving it the beans” on Kyalami racetrack. The electronic nannies will do a stellar job of making the most ham-fisted drivers feel like Schumacher.

Mercedes SLK 2

You can push it hard, assured that you’ll run out of talent before the car does. Now SLK might denote “Sport, Light and Compact”, but it feels like a heavy machine. It’s less sharper than the Z4 and purists will quickly point out that more fun will be had with cars like the Mazda MX-5 and overrated Toyota 86. But the SLK strikes a good balance between sportiness and refinement.

No longer does it attract hairdresser stigmas. With its SL-inspired front and beefier AMG pieces, the car will be taken serious from the boulevard to the track. It has the aural thrills and the performance to match the show too. The engine produces a hearty growl and there are satisfied “burps” between upshifts, like you would hear on a new Volkswagen Golf GTI.

Mercedes SLK 3

Driving with the top down is a breeze too. Especially thanks to the Airscarf, which gently blows warmth down occupants’ necks. Rear wind deflectors fold-out from behind the roof hoops and manage well at reducing buffeting, even at higher speeds. Inside it truly feels like a baby SL roadster. Snug, sculpted seats hold you in place. And traits like the leather-wrapped dashboard ooze Mercedes-Benz class.

You will pay R579 238 to get into the SLK 200. And the base price of the SLK 250 we drove at launch is R635 811. The 350 goes for R763 673 while the authentic V8-engined AMG will cost a cool R991 588. Standard features are surprisingly impressive too and all the good stuff has been thrown in. For example, you do get LED headlights, the Airscarf, a colour display interface with Bluetooth, smart aluminium inlays and leather upholstery.

Mercedes SLK 5

Of course, there is a list of optional extras. If you want red safety belts, that would be R6500 extra. A Dynamic Handling Package – which lowers the suspension and throws in a few other tricks – will cost you R12 600. A Harmon Kardon audio system would set you back R9600 and if you want to upgrade to the Comand interface with navigation, Mercedes-Benz will relieve you of R22 750.

On the plus side, however, the dream of owning this tasty topless Benz is unlikely to turn sour – thanks to a fully-comprehensive six-year/100 000-kilometre maintenance plan.

Re-launching the SLK with a standard AMG exterior package was a smart move from Mercedes-Benz. It added some germaneness to the car; in the face of aging rivals like the BMW Z4 and archaic Audi TT.

Brenwin Naidu

The Technical Stuff: 

Model: Mercedes-Benz SLK 250 AMG Sport Line

Price: R635 811

Engine: 1.8-litre, four-cylinder, turbocharged

Power and Torque: 150kW and 310Nm

Fuel Consumption: 7.3l/100km

Test Mileage: 150 kilometres