A week with… the Mercedes SLK250 CDI

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The third generation of Merc’s smallest roadster, available for the first time with a diesel engine.

Day 1: A diesel roadster. That’s a bit odd. When the SLK was due to arrive I heard an oily noise from outside and rushed to the front window. It turned out to be a Transit van. When the Mercedes actually turned up I didn’t hear the engine but the nice lady who dropped it off had the roof down and was listening to Red Red Wine by UB40. A timely reminder that some things sound worse than a diesel engine.

Went for a quick drive. This particular SLK has an option called ‘direct steering’, some sort of variable ratio trickery. Whether it’s that or the computer that controls the (hydraulic) power assistance levels, something makes the steering weighting feel erratic. Still, without it you’d have ‘indirect steering’ and all changes of direction would have to be organised in writing.

Day 2: Used the Merc to take the cat to the vet. There was a lot of yowling. This SLK is in Sport trim which means a 10mm suspension drop. The ride is a bit hard as a result. Maybe that’s what upset the cat.

Parked in a dark underground car park and discovered that bits of the dash and doors light up with red strips. Also discovered that this is a £245 option.

Later, stuck in traffic with the roof down, an Irish bloke leaned out of the van next to me. ‘Is that a diesel?’ he shouted. He must have spotted the CDI badge. I was going to tell him that the 250 bit is a lie and the engine’s only a 2.1-litre but it seemed too complicated to explain in the middle of the Westway.

Day 3: It’s raining. The SLK’s bootlid has to be wide and flat for the foldy roof to work but that leaves no room for gutters to stop rain water dribbling onto your bags. So they’ve fitted little rain catchers you can see in the picture below with a bit of pipe which takes the water and dumps it under the car. Nice.

This car is fitted with Merc’s Airscarf neck warmer system. It’s still raining but I discovered it works with the roof up. I put the air-con on chilled and the scarf-o-matic on hot. Felt like a baked Alaska.

Day 5: Fancied an ice cream. Drove to the seaside to get one. Roof down most of the way. My wife described the Scarftronic mullet drying system as ‘the greatest invention in all of history’. Think she might have been exaggerating. It is very good though.

Day 7: I like this car, even though the steering is odd and the ride’s too hard. Went to the supermarket. Left SLK with roof down. Came out, plipped locks, slung shopping bag over passenger door, felt a bit of a show-off. Started engine. Felt like someone who claims to be a groovy sort of bloke but is actually really tight-fisted.

On the move this engine is fine. Merc’s petrol four cylinders sound no better or worse and they don’t have as much grunt. But at low speed, the diesel makes too much oily noise. Mind you, on yesterday’s 80 mile round trip it did near-on 50mpg. So it would be quite appealing if you’re mean. However, if you’re mean, would you want to spend £36,255 on a car? If you are and you do, you can save four grand by getting the standard car without sports suspension. Then you could be mean and comfortable. And you’d have a likeable two-seater cruiser.

SPEC: The Mercedes SLK 250CDI BlueEfficiency AMG Sport has a 2.1-litre turbocharged diesel engine which makes 201bhp and 369 lb ft. Mercedes say it will do 0-62 in 6.7 seconds and has a top speed of 151mph. They’re probably right.  


  1. With a bonnet that long, aren’t you worried that anyone who sees you will assume that your penis is so small you need tweezers to take a leak?

  2. A proper road test? Im impressed!

  3. This is boring. Be funny again soon.

  4. Almost as boring and inward looking at the usual ‘Dab o’Oppo’ magazines. I can almost hear the Rht Hon J.Clarkson esq. banging on and on and on about this.

    Would Mercedes-Benz be so very upset if one pointed out the farce of it stupidly over hyped glass roof panel or generally over prices / poor performance nature? Better still why not just create vintage Sniff and write what we are thinking but dare not utter….

  5. This is AN GREAT IDEA.

  6. Not sure, I can always read Evo if I want to get some (relatively) sensible Sniff. You could always let Troy loose in a half decent car once in a while!

  7. (Seriously)

  8. Go for it! i like the tone and wit. it’s a departure from the usual Sniff but change is okay!

  9. I’m having a new kitchen fitted this week.

  10. OK, where’s the punchline?

  11. Too many trolls on here for me. I liked it better before the upgrade. Come on moderators, sort out this mess an make it a forum for local people with long histories and low inteligence. Just like it was before.

  12. Those little tubey things are fine for the first six weeks, then they clog up and you’ll have a nice little wetland habitat back there.

  13. This reads like a deleted road test chapter from Catch-22 and, for that reason alone, I like it.

  14. This review has a sniff of the James May about it? Cat? Come on….

  15. Brilliant, really like this, don’t know what these people are complaining about!

  16. So there you have it – a hairdresser’s car with a built-in blow dryer. Mmm, nice. All it needs is a wankel.

  17. Built in hair dryers and a water butt in the boot? I want one!

    No wait, it’s a Merc – and i’m not a wanker.

  18. When will manufacturers get the message that electricity is totally crap at powering steering systems, why do they keep persevering, it just ruins a car.

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