In 1997, Mercedes-Benz introduced the SLK, a stylish compact two-seater convertible. Whether it was a response to the popularity of the Mazda Miata can't be confirmed, but its main rivals turned out to be the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z3. The car's name was derived from the German Words; Sportlich, Leicht, and Kurz; which translates to Sporty, Light, and Short. And that's exactly what this vehicle was.
The R170 model SLK utilized the C-Class chassis for its foundation with wheelbase shortened to 94.4 inches. It measured 157.2 inches in overall length, 67.4 inches wide, and 50.6 inches high. What made it unique in the segment was the folding hardtop, which the company called Vario roof, allowing the car to possess the qualities of both a coupe and convertible.
The SLK was equipped with a supercharged 2.3L inline-4 that produced 193 HP at 5300 rpm and 206.8 ft-lb of torque at 2500 rpm. Shifting was performed through a 5-speed automatic transmission.
In 2000, the SLK320 received a 3.2-liter V-6 that produced 215 HP at 5700 rpm and 228.5 ft-lb at 3000.
The SLK proved a big success all over the world, especially to women, thus paving way for the R171, a second generation version in 2004.