2000 Mercedes-Benz Designo roadster of the 1998-2000 SLK230s
2000 Mercedes-Benz Designo roadster

Mercedes' returned to sports car building with the 1998-2000 Mercedes-Benz SLK230. European buyers could take their choice of a 2.0-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine or supercharged 2.3-liter four, as well as 5-speed manual or automatic transmissions. All U.S. market cars had the supercharged engine. The manual transmission wasn't available in the states until the '99 model year.

The supercharged engine was leisurely off the line, but had plenty of punch at high speeds. Unfortunately the motor sounded coarse and unrefined at all speeds. Handling was secure and stable through the turns.

The most unique feature of the car was its folding steel top. Pushing a button transformed the SLK from closed coupe to open convertible in seconds.

Pluses of the 1998-2000 Mercedes-Benz SLK230:

  • Unique retractable top
  • Solid structure
  • Curve-hugging handling

Minuses of the 1998-2000 Mercedes-Benz SLK230:

  • Coarse engine
  • Power not always on tap
  • Lacks steering feel

Production of the 1998-2000 Mercedes-Benz SLK230:

  • 1998: 9,549
  • 1999: 8,763

Specifications of the 1998-2000 Mercedes-Benz SLK230:
Wheelbase, inches: 94.5
Length, inches: 157.3
Weight, pounds: 3,025
Price, new: $39,700-$41,000 (U.S.)

Engines for the 1998-2000 Mercedes-Benz SLK230:

TypeSize Horsepower Years
dohc I-41 140
185 1998-2000

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