Mercedes-Benz R170 is First Produced

The Mercedes-Benz R170 was an automobile platform for sports cars produced since 1997.

R170 models were originally sold as the SLK-Class and was based on the W202 C-Class. It was replaced by a new SLK-Class platform - the R171 - for 2005. R170 and R171 chassis production is handled by Karmann of Germany.

1997-2004 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
2004-2008 Chrysler Crossfire as Chrysler ZH platform

The R170-platform SLK 230 Kompressor was introduced in 1997 for model year 1998 to compete with the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z3. Setting it apart was its folding hardtop, though its additional weight compromised the performance of the 193 hp 2.3 L supercharged I4 engine and automatic transmission. The SLK was on Car and Driver's Ten Best list for 1997.

A 5-speed manual transmission was added for 1999 along with the 215 hp 3.2 L V6 and 6-speed manual transmission in the 2001 SLK 320.

An AMG model was added in 2001, with a 354 hp (264 kW) supercharged version of the 3.2 L V6. This SLK 32 AMG was the best-performing R170 SLK, and was a direct rival of the BMW M Roadster and Porsche Boxster S. It was only offered with automatic transmission and was hand built.
Not all Mercedes SLKs were built in Bremen, Germany, the SLK 320 being built in South Africa and Mexico. The very first R170 Mercedes SLK was completed on January 29, 1997 and last on April 7, 2004.
Summary of all versions and engine specifications:
SLK 200 - 2.0 L (1998 cc) 136 hp I4
SLK 200 Kompressor - 2.0 L (1998 cc) 163 hp I4 supercharged engine, 0-60 mph in 8.2 seconds, top speed of 223 km/h (138 mph). NB Not exported to North American markets.
SLK 230 Kompressor - 2.3 L (2295 cc) 197 hp I4 supercharged engine, 0-60 mph in 6.9 seconds, top speed of 240 km/h (148 mph).
SLK 320 - 3.2 L (3199 cc) 218 hp V6 engine, 0-60 mph in 6.5 seconds, top speed of 245 km/h (152 mph).
SLK 32 AMG - 3.2 L (3199 cc) 354 hp V6 engine, 0-60 mph in 4.5 seconds All engines were hand-built by AMG by an individual engineer. The engine came with an intercooled Lysholm-type "twin-screw" supercharger. Production ran between Aug 2000 and March 2004. Only 4,333 were built in total, of which 979 were retained for Germany, 2,056 exported to the USA and 263 to the UK.

As of 2007, there have been two generations of Mercedes Benz SLK Class luxury roadsters. 1997 through 2004, the R170 generation of SLK class was comprised of four models that spanned those years. The SLK230 Kompressor distinguished itself from any others with its folding hard top and familiarly impressive supercharged Mercedes engineering and design capabilities. The subsequent SLK 320 attracted convertible admirers with its more endearing 6 speed manual transmission and 3.2 liter V6 engine. The SLK32 AMG with a 3.2 liter V6 engine putting out 354 horsepower was available in limited quantities in the United States and went from 0-60 in 4.5 seconds. The SLK200 was not available for sale or purchase in the United States, but those overseas-and those who utilized the gray market in the U.S.-were served a more economically fuel efficient and slightly toned down 2.0 136 horsepower engine in the SLK200.

In 2005 Mercedes announced the arrival of the next generation of SLK Class, the R171. The Mercedes Benz retractable hard top SLK350 returned with enhanced handling, a more user friendly and elaborately detailed interior and the power of a 3.5 liter V6. 2006 saw the addition of the SLK280 in addition to the SLK350 Roadster. The SLK280 was offered as a less costly option with a 3.0 V6 engine, retaining the majority of the features and options available for the SLK350. The SLK55 AMG was released in 2007 and was built in limited quantities and for high performance drivers. The SLK55 AMG comes equipped with a 5.4 liter V8 engine, 18 inch chrome wheels, sports car designed suspension with brakes and tires to match. The interior features heated Napa leather upholstery and detailed luxury sport trim and control panels.

No significant changes have been made to the Mercedes Benz SLK350 or SLK 280 cabrioles or coupes as of the 2007 model year-and few complaints have been heard. The SLK Class convertibles are subject to blind spots when the top is up, something that many wish will be addressed in the future. However, compliments regarding the invigorating and responsive handling, the retractable hard top accompanied by world class Mercedes quality far outweigh any negative chatter.