Design Critique of the SLK R170 vs R171 vs R172 - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

General Discussion Topics must pertain to all 3 generations of SLK - R170, R171 and R172

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#1 Old 07-22-2017
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Design Critique of the SLK R170 vs R171 vs R172

I realise this will be a somewhat controversial post. Everyone has their favourites. The truth is I like all three generations of the SLK and the order of my preference is quite changeable.

I am an engineer by profession with a role that interfaced heavily with car design so while I am not a designer I understand a bit how they think.

The first generation is a very simple and taut design that is somewhat reminiscent of a classic Armani suit. It is elegant with no flamboyant touches. It responds very nicely to any upgrades like bigger wheels in the same way an Armani suit is enhanced with a nice tie and a nice pair of hand made Italian leather shoes. From some angles it can be a bit underwhelming and even boring. In my view the best angle is the rear three quarter view followed by the front three quarter view, the direct front view as well as the direct rear view. It has a nice roof line and the shortest over hangs. Its lines on highlights on the body are simple but perfectly executed. It is always easier to execute simple. In isolation every panel is beautiful if simple. Except for the rear three quarter view the car does not look aggressive. The design is calming and a bit on the soft female side. The hood in particular is one of the most beautiful panels. The interior is simple and elegant and has the most classic shapes of all the generations. In areas, escecially around the very vertical centre stack of the instrument panel it looks a little dated but the rest of the interior is quite timeless. It has the most interesting colour breakups and some of the nicest most classic looking finishes. My favourite is the turned aluminium.

The second generation is a big departure from the first. Its like Mercedes discovered swoopy extravagant lines. It looks elegant but racy and very pretty. In clothing terms it is more like a flamboyant Ralph Lauren shirt. Its lines all work very well together and apart from the slightly squashed and rounded roof line it has very few design elements that do not work well. Some design elements like the F1 nose in isolation might look a bit wrong but when seen in context of the rest of the car it actually looks very nice. The car has a larger number of really attractive viewing angles. It is very nicely executed but more busy so it does not take very well to embellishments. The design is more masculine than the R170 and also more aggressive but not overly so. The overhang at the front is longer and the car looks a little less balanced than the R170. The interior is a bit generic and while very nice looks modern and could belong in any Mercedes of that era.


The third generation is another big departure. It is aggressive and busy and looks nothing at all like either of the two cars that went before. It has too many design elements some of them do not work well at all. The worst is the overly large front grille that looks like it came off a large SUV. It does make the front of the car look very much like it wants to eat other cars up. The front and rear of the car are also very blocky and chunky and the car has none of the elegance of the first and second generations. In clothing terms it looks like the clothes a rapper would wear. The interior looks beautiful, like all new Mercedes but it has lost some of the delicacy of a sports car both from the interior and exterior perspective.
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#2 Old 07-23-2017
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I like one particular element of the R172: the location of the sides of the trunk. On the others and lots of other folding-metal-roof designs, that seam comes well down on the rear fenders. On the R172, it's much better located, in a place that makes perfect sense. Not a great photo but here's our car to show that line:
IMGT8358 by just1moredave
The front can look odd from a few angles. It really looks like MB had everything nearly locked up when someone came in at the last second waving a new government regulation. "Just move this bumper up 50cm in the center and it'll be fine." Everything else leans way back - windshield, headlights, etc. - except that blunt center section.
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#3 Old 07-23-2017
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Originally Posted by Just1MoreDave View Post
I like one particular element of the R172: the location of the sides of the trunk. On the others and lots of other folding-metal-roof designs, that seam comes well down on the rear fenders. On the R172, it's much better located, in a place that makes perfect sense. Not a great photo but here's our car to show that line:
IMGT8358 by just1moredave
The front can look odd from a few angles. It really looks like MB had everything nearly locked up when someone came in at the last second waving a new government regulation. "Just move this bumper up 50cm in the center and it'll be fine." Everything else leans way back - windshield, headlights, etc. - except that blunt center section.

What bothers me about the R172 from a design standpoint is that it looks like three cars in one. Its got a few too many design cues and not one theme.
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#4 Old 07-23-2017
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The air vents in the 172 get to me. Surely a 3 pointed star would have been better than the simple cross that they have used? The only real thing that puts me off the interior of the 172.

Still can't get over the nose of the car though. The 170 and 171 32 and 55 prove that you don't need a big grille but that thing they hung off the front is as you say huge.
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#5 Old 07-23-2017
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I agree with the aggressive design of the r172 it's as if they had a very particular buyer in mind.
I love the fact the 170/171 are pretty cars I not got a clue on design but wish they would go back to the stylish Audrey Hepburn days of style with modern mechanics.
That said I think any Slk owner is lucky as we own a car that puts a huge smile on our faces each drive.

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#6 Old 07-23-2017
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All three have a magnetic personality.


Park them in an empty shopping lot and walk away.


15 minutes later they are surrounded by heavily dented 4x4s and such.


Aesthetics in spades.
Logic in the bin.


Dismantling a car to swap bulbs, really? (Not just the SLK, most marques).
We got away from that 20 years ago.


The 170 and 171 are as if they tried to get the externals right and fit the rest in.
The 172 is as if they tried to get the internals right and fit the rest on.


I wonder what the 173 would have been like?
Electric, no doubt.

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#7 Old 07-23-2017
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Cool

I like the cuteness of the 170 and especially the 32.
The 172 interior is nice and the rear end on the 172 and 171 for me are very good looking.
The 171 nose does it for me and if I could take that big Star off the car I would.
The roof on them all packs away nicely thank you....

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#8 Old 07-23-2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avel Du View Post
Park them in an empty shopping lot and walk away.


15 minutes later they are surrounded by heavily dented 4x4s and such.
Omg, you know my pain. This happens to me all the time, and it annoys the crap out of me!
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#9 Old 07-23-2017
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CopperKompressor View Post
Omg, you know my pain. This happens to me all the time, and it annoys the crap out of me!

I think they park near to look at the nice car.


Then they ding it with doors and fenders as a demonstration of love.
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#10 Old 07-23-2017
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The looks of each model has it supporters and detractors, and each look is very subjective. Personally, although I have a 172, I'd like it better if the styling was as the 171 - but (and it is a big but), I really like the interior of the 172, and the ride is, in my opinion, much more comfortable.

Each of the three styles, 170, 171 and 172 were clearly designed to appeal to slightly different markets. Good for MB in my opinion. Different design briefs broaden the appeal of the marque - I, for one, am not knocking any of them.


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#11 Old 07-24-2017
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One thing that i notice from afar is that if a 170 or a 171 approaches you from afar is you instantly can reconize it !
The 172 not so it leaves you guessing a little till ........

And i dont need to go to spec savers . nerd:
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#12 Old 07-24-2017
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I like them all but no prizes for guessing which I prefer now. I think that the evolution of the car has brought many improvements in ergonomics, functional design and style. The three cars are all as different as they are the same. I've been lucky enough to own R171 and R172 and have also driven an R170 briefly. They all put a smile on your face and have something I like about them! The SLC further improved on the interior design but I wasn't crazy about all of the exterior design changes or the seemingly inferior top of the range engine!

The other thing that's great about these cars is that you never see 2 exactly the same. So many variations in colour, trim combinations and other specification. Just when you think you've seen it all another one comes along that breaks the mould.
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I'm not mean... but I am 'roofless' at every opportunity!
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#13 Old 07-24-2017
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I was looking for a 171 slk55 last year as I really like the look of the front.
However by the time I found one that was right , I was in 172 money so it made sense for me to get the later 172 model, which I have to say grew on me pretty quick, in particular the muscular looking rear end..!
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#14 Old 07-24-2017
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I think the 172 (MkII) SLC has a fabulous and subtle restyle at the back and sides, the rear is especially smart looking.
Sadly not so the front, looks even bigger and bulkier than the 172 Mk I, bit like the front of a a 4x4 but I suppose its all about corporate identity and all MB front ends look similar.
Never liked the front end on the 171 with the painted grill always looks like an afterthought.
Personally my favourite is the 170 its smaller, delicate and just more elegant!
snshami got us going on this one and its so much personal preference.
not sure about the suit analogy I'm more of an anorak man myself!
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#15 Old 07-24-2017
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Originally Posted by Pyecrust View Post
I think the 172 (MkII) SLC has a fabulous and subtle restyle at the back and sides, the rear is especially smart looking.
Sadly not so the front, looks even bigger and bulkier than the 172 Mk I, bit like the front of a a 4x4 but I suppose its all about corporate identity and all MB front ends look similar.
Never liked the front end on the 171 with the painted grill always looks like an afterthought.
Personally my favourite is the 170 its smaller, delicate and just more elegant!
snshami got us going on this one and its so much personal preference.
not sure about the suit analogy I'm more of an anorak man myself!
I guess a little controversy is good to get the blood stirring and the discussion happening. I did mention that I like them all and would be more than happy to own any of them or all. I just recorded my observations that's all. I do find that modern sports cars have grown so much larger. For instance, a Porsche Boxter from the rear is almost as tall and bulky looking as a BMW 5 series or the first Toyota RAV 4 from whenever it started. It's like the obesity epidemic is hitting cars as well

An interesting link that doesn't actually show the problem to its fullest extent.
https://www.carthrottle.com/post/10-...s-have-become/
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#16 Old 08-07-2017
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I don't mind the 170 at all, but what stopped me from getting one originally was not enough leg room. I've had my 171 since late 2005 (2006 model) and still love it. I was a little sad when the 172's came out, mostly because of the front end (they're lovely from most other angles) and I expected more improvements in terms of electronics. I'm surprised how much they've not benefited from enhancements in other models. I haven't checked it out since the SLC rebadge (did they change at all other than the name?).

I honestly haven't found the 172 enough of an improvement to lure me out of my 171, and I'm not entirely convinced I'd buy one when it comes time to retire the 171. Makes me a little sad. But it has inspired me to stay in my 171, so who knows what they might come up with before long again.
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#17 Old 08-08-2017
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Having owned both a R171 and R172 model, the exterior definitely goes to the R171 and the interior goes to the R172. Like the air vents and cup holders on the R172 but do not like the front styling and engine on the version we had. The naturally aspirated engine of the R171 (SLK 350) is a much smoother driver than the forced induction R172 (SLK 250).

But hey...any SLK is better than no SLK!

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#18 Old 08-08-2017
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We seriously looked at a red R171 first when we decided to sell our Slk230. Just couldn't get past the nose and the " big' star". The R170 just kept calling us back. But I wanted more. Ran across the '32 and fell in love all over again! Some things you just can't help!
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#19 Old 08-08-2017
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All three generations have been in keeping with the designs of Mercedes at the time - and miniature SL being that theme. The main stand out design feature over rivals is the proportions of the roof to body, the cheaper (mostly french) two piece roofs have a long A pillar to keep the folding section small and are not nice, and have bulbous rear ends. Only Mercedes, VW (Eos) and Volvo (C70) seemed to manage to make a car that looks good roof up and roof down.
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#20 Old 08-08-2017
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Originally Posted by Tim S Kemp View Post
All three generations have been in keeping with the designs of Mercedes at the time - and miniature SL being that theme. The main stand out design feature over rivals is the proportions of the roof to body, the cheaper (mostly french) two piece roofs have a long A pillar to keep the folding section small and are not nice, and have bulbous rear ends. Only Mercedes, VW (Eos) and Volvo (C70) seemed to manage to make a car that looks good roof up and roof down.
Actually, the Ford Focus looks quite elegant as well.

I like the shape of the roof on the R170 better. Its flatter and less bulbous. But I have to focus on the R171 roof to be annoyed by it. Like I have to focus on the bonnet to find that the "Formula 1 car" bulge reminds me of the nose of a proboscis monkey



Certain colours to me make the individual design elements standout and separate while other colours tend to blend everything.
I find bright red is a really lovely colour for the R171 while silver is less so but then hey, its all personal preference.
Just for the record I would happily buy an R171 in a nice condition so these comments are in no way me disparaging them.
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