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Discussion Starter #1
This is a question for the folks who have followed the SLK class from the early years (1997/8?)...

What in your mind are the biggest design whiffs/fails of SLKs over the years? Have they been fixed or redesigned? When did the fix or redesign happen, or did it persist until a total redesign (r170 > r171 > r172)? (Also, when did an already-great design feature get improved upon tremendously?)

I ask out of both general curiosity and specific interest because I bought a used 1998 SLK 230 back in 2005, and I would definitely consider buying a later model (used or new), but would like to know if/when bad designs got fixed, what other bad designs got introduced etc.

So, e.g., in my 1998 SLK 230, I would immediately think of the following:
* roof hydraulic actuators leak - did they ever fix it in the r170 models, or did it persist in all of them until r171? and did any r171 models suffer that problem?
* cup holder is awkward and useless - did this get moved in the r171 models, and was it an improvement? how are the newest ones?
* peeling interior paint - when did they stop using paint that reliably peels after a few years?
* having to twist a knob to raise or lower the back of the seat - that seems so un-mercedes-like - was automatic controls something you could pay for?
* MAF issues - do all cars have issues with that?

As for later models, I don't know anything about post-r170 models, but I personally didn't like the r171 front redesign, but I know others liked it a lot. I think the newest redesign is more reminiscent of the r170 and I like it.

In your opinion, what are the biggest design improvements in the newer and newest models?

I think an example of a great design getting even greater is the folding of the hardtop... Of course, bigger engines and the AMG models are awesome, and I hope to own one one day. Are newer models easier to work on under the hood or anything like that, for DIYers? Or harder?

What's your favorite year/model of them all?
 

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Administrator 2009 SLK 55 AMG/Founding Member 2006
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Premium Member 2005 SLK55 AMG
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Jeff's link covers the differences/changes between the different revisions of SLKs... I'm in the camp that prefers the R171 model (I really like that front end)! I would have gone for the later R171 facelift version, but budget was limited and given the choice of a non-facelift AMG or facelift and non-AMG, I just had to choose the V8! :D

. . . . .
* cup holder is awkward and useless - did this get moved in the r171 models, and was it an improvement? how are the newest ones?
. . . . .
Yes, the cup holder did get moved for the R171 model, but stayed in the same place for the R171 facelift too... only problem is that it got moved to somewhere totally useless (and potentially very expensive)!...
http://www.slkworld.com/slk-r171-general-discussion/195057-why-you-shouldnt-put-drinks-cupholder-over-comand-audio.html
 

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Registered 2005 SLK350
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I searched for about a year before purchasing my SLK. Originally, I was looking for a R170 but things such as the peeling interior paint was a turn off. It did seem that MB got that resolved by the 2003 model year. So, my search had been narrowed to the 2003 and 2004 models.

Initially, I had not included the R171 in my search as the first year model - 2005 here in the US, was a bit of a price bump over the 2004 R170. But, I eventually included the 2005 model in my searching. I did so partly based on the reviews by the motoring press. They were enthusiastic about the improvements in the R171 over the R170.

Cup holders are still an issue with the R171, but our savvy members here have come up with a reasonable solution that can be retrofitted. Some R171 roof cylinders leak - primarily the unlocking cylinder mounted in the front edge of the roof, but it does not seem to a chronic issue.

Performance wise the R171 with the 3.5L engine is a big step in overall improvement over the R170 3.2L. Of course, that is just my opinion. Move up to the face lift R171 with all the kinks worked out and the bumped up higher output of the 3.5L engine and that seems to be a real winner.

In general each model brings a higher level of complexity to the cars. With the R171 and beyond, DIY is very challenging without access to the MB DAS/Xentry diagnostic equipment.
 

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All of them are great cars but isn't the R171 design a bit "insecure"?

I mean, it looks fantastic but it clearly aim to imitate the big brother SLR instead of going it's own way.


/Oooo -how I'm going to be hated by the "R171-gang" ;-)
 

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All of them are great cars but isn't the R171 design a bit "insecure"?

I mean, it looks fantastic but it clearly aim to imitate the big brother SLR instead of going it's own way.


/Oooo -how I'm going to be hated by the "R171-gang" ;-)
I'll join you in the doghouse! >:D
When I first saw it, I thought the R171 was the most beautiful car I had seen apart of course from the SLR. Over the years however I have become less enamoured and eventually chose to go for an R172. Having had an R170 before, I'm amazed at the improvements in acceleration, fuel economy, and the whole driving experience. Having said all that, I hasten to add that, although the R172 is my preference, the SLK range, whatever the model, takes some beating.
 

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Administrator 2009 SLK 55 AMG/Founding Member 2006
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slr came out 2003. slk r171 came out 2004 so not much time to have sibling rivalry, no?
 

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All of them are great cars but isn't the R171 design a bit "insecure"?

I mean, it looks fantastic but it clearly aim to imitate the big brother SLR instead of going it's own way.

/Oooo -how I'm going to be hated by the "R171-gang" ;-)
...to that point, the R172's imitate the SLS, especially the interior.
 

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2007 SLK350 fastdawg
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I've had a R170 and R171. I prefer the R171 over the R170 in styling. I really like the 171 front end better, but I like the back end of the 170 being more squared. The interior of the 171 seemed to be a big upgrade. The 170 to me seemed to be a better high speed cruiser, where the 171 shines on the back roads. That might be for me because the Dawg has a 6 spd manual that above 80 gets noisy tac'ing 3000 at 80 MPH. It feels very low geared like it could climb a tree. I can't speak for the 172, but the interior looks again like another upgrade over the 171. I don't like the front end of the 172 though, I don't like that flat vertical fronts ends. My Chrysler 300S looks like a bull dozer because of that styling. I like sleek and stream lined. The slanty nose of the 171 fits me best, it looks like nothing else you normally see, and that makes it special. The Dawg at the car shows can be in the middle of all those classics and new muscle cars and still pull the crowd because of it's unique appearance.
 
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