font color="blue">Stuttgart gives us a look at the next generation
of its diminutive roadster, on sale this spring.
Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its completely new 2005 SLK roadster, which goes on sale in Europe in March and arrives in the States shortly after its North American debut at April’s New York Auto Show. The first complete redesign since the SLK’s debut in 1996, the breezy new two-seater again features a clever retractable hard top, this time utilizing the space-saving tricks of its big brother, the SL. The ’05 car is longer and wider than its predecessor by almost three inches, providing a more aggressive stance and significantly more interior space. One particularly innovative new feature is AIRSCARF, which employs warm-air vents in the seat headrests, giving the new SLK four-seasons top-down potential.
Behind the new SLK’s Formula 1-inspired front fascia, will reside a range of new powertrains, including a 268-horsepower 24-valve 3.5-liter V-6 in the SLK350 and an astonishing 355-horsepower 5.5-liter normally aspirated V-8 in the SLK55 AMG. Look for sub-six-second sprints to 60 mph for the six-cylinder car, with the AMG model making the leap in less than five seconds. A six-speed manual is standard with the six, with Mercedes’ new 7GTRONIC seven-speed manu-matic gearbox an option. The 7GTRONIC, featuring steering wheel-mounted shift buttons, comes standard in the SLK55.