The Mercedes-Benz R170 series was produced from 1996 to 2004, a period in which it marked an expansion in Mercedes-Benz's lineup that came as a reaction to emerging trends in medium-sized or compact roadsters. In response to this trend, with the MX-5 leading the way, Mercedes-Benz introduced the SLK, which stands for ‘Sport, Leicht und Kurz’ - or ‘Sporty, Leight and Short’ in German. From 1996 on, it was sold at a well-affordable price under the internal reference 'R170’. The 'SLK', that the R170 had initiated, proved to be a success, as it was sold in multiple series until 2019.
Even before the arrival of the R170, Mercedes-Benz had been working on a concept car in order to compete with the MX-5. In 1993, they filed a patent for an electric hardtop that, when the roof was open, stowed away in the rear trunk. In 1994, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the 'SLK I Concept' convertible concept car at the Turin Motor Show. In that very same year, a second concept car, the 'SLK II Concept', was displayed at the Paris Motor Show, giving visitors a glimpse of what the metal hardtop would eventually look like.
In 1996, the 200 SLK was introduced as the original model, and not only did it feature the retractable hardtop, it also paid tribute to Mercedes-Benz's rich roadster history as its wheelbase’s length was identical to that of the world-celebrated Gullwing 300 SL and the 190SL. Initially, it came with three engines: a naturally aspirated two-litre straight-four engine with 134 horsepower, the same two-litre engine but supercharged and thus more powerful, or a supercharged 2.3-litre four-cylinder engine producing 190 horsepower. In the year 2000, a significant facelift occurred that brought redesigned bumpers, grille, and taillights, the indicators were integrated into the side mirrors. Inside, the ergonomics were improved with sportier seats, the steering wheel and gearshift received a new look. In 2001, an AMG model with a 3.2-litre V6 engine was introduced, and from that model year on, a six-speed manual transmission was available for the R170.
Approximately 311,000 R170 cars were made, making it a famous entry-level sports car.
Mercedes-Benz 200 SLK KOMPRESSOR
The 200 SLK is the initial, and entry-level, model to the R170 series. Throughout its entire production period, it was offered alongside the 200 SLK KOMPRESSOR as its parallel counterpart. Essentially, the latter is the same car, with significantly higher power due to its forced induction.
The regular 200 SLK comes with a two-litre engine. Any differences with R170 models lie solely in the engine's behaviour and its power performance. The R170 remains an affordable, dependable, and utterly durable entry-level convertible that has set the standard for cars equipped with a retractable hardtop.
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