Mercedes-Benz has just introduced two stunning new premium models here. The new C-Class coupé replaces the CLK, while the new SLK also debuts to replace the previous version, writes Padraic Deane.
These two sports orientated models have increased the the number of new models introduced by Mercedes-Benz over the past year to eight. And it does not stop there - the new B-Class and M-Class SUV both arrive early next year.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupé
The new coupé is the third member of the new C-Class family to arrive here. It has been launched with an entry-level price of €36,000 ex-works with the Avantgarde trim level as standard.
Like the saloon and estate models that preceded it, the new coupé has all of the technical, safety and environmental features that have attracted much acclaim. Most notable is the availability of fuel-saving, emissions-reducing 'Blue efficiency’ technology across the range. And importantly, this brings some versions into the lower road tax bands.
Clearly a Mercedes from some distance, the new model has a classic sports coupé design and styling - a gently-sloping roofline flowing on to a steeply raked windscreen and a long shapely bonnet. The front end has a louvred grille with chrome trimmed inserts, a solid bumper that marries as one with the front wheel arches, and a centrally-mounted ‘star’ that echoes the appearance of the new C-Class.
Combine this with wide doors, narrow C-pillars, elongated rear, and swept back tail lights and its youthful appeal is accentuated. It provides a scent of solidity, power, performance, and a craving to get behind the wheel.
The interior does not disappoint either. It includes four full figure-hugging seats with a driver-friendly dash and centre console.
Power comes from five new direct-injection engines. There is a choice of two diesel 2.2 litre power-units, the 170 and 204bhp options. Petrol models consist of two 1.8 litre units of 156 and 204bhp, all topped by a 3.5 litre V6 version, that develops 306bhp. The last named offers a 0-100km/h (62mph ) time of six seconds and promises fuel consumption of 41.5mpg.
Safety and driver comfort include new generation telematics, an ECO start/stop function, fuel-efficient '7G-Tronic' automatic transmission (standard on C250 and C350 petrol versions ) and the much-publicised drowsiness detection device. Another appealing feature is agility control – a system that monitors ride conditions and automatically adjusts the suspension from firm to soft depending on road conditions.
In line with the price-reduction policy being pursued by Mercedes-Benz, the new coupé comes with a competitive price. The C180 coupé petrol sells at €36,000 ex-works, while the entry C220 CDI diesel checks in at €39,990 ex-works with the lowest tax band available at €104 per annum. It will be the biggest seller.
Ciaran Allen, sales manager of Mercedes-Benz in Ireland, told the Advertiser: " The new C-Class coupé is a classic coupé that will take Mercedes-Benz into a new market segment. We give customers a model choice that includes standard, AMG and Edition 1 sports pack versions, each one available with extra options."
New SLK - arrives in time for summer sunshine
The second newcomer is arriving just in time for the scarce summer sunshine. The new SLK is a much more masculine looking car - it looks and feels like it has come of age. It replaces the last model, which was first launched in 1996 and revised in 2004, and how time flies.
Another interesting aspect for the Irish motorist is the arrival of a diesel version, production of which will begin in December in time for 2012 registrations.
Endowed with a more muscular appearance with some styling similarities to its impressive SLS stable mate, the new SLK has individual design touches that echo the iconic SL model of the 1950s.
Changes to the exterior include a new front-end with a wider grille, reshaped headlamps, pronounced air inlets and new LED daytime running lights.
Along the side and from the rear, new air intake vents and an even more pronounced boot lid and tail light clusters are the predominant features.
Interior changes include a new dashboard, steering wheel and centre console, all finished with brushed aluminium highlights. There is also innovative ambient lighting inside.
And as you would expect in an open-top vehicle, comfort and safety considerations are to the fore. Apart from a generally more comfortable interior, special features include a solar panoramic roof called Magic Sky that can change from light to dark at the flick of a switch, and an on-board computer that delivers on-the-go internet access.
Standard safety items include the now-famous drowsiness detection system and an occupant protection system that anticipates any changes that could threaten passenger safety.
Pre-safe braking that works automatically to guard against an impending rear end collision, intelligent lights, an innovative new speed limit assist systems, and a sports suspension package, are among the optional items.
The SLK is available in a range of new, more efficient four and six-cylinder engines, all equipped with eco stop/start function and Blue Efficiency technology to reduce fuel consumption, minimize CO2 emissions and cut down on road tax costs.
Petrol units begin with the SLK 200 CGI Blue Efficiency unit which has a price tag of €49,700 ex-works with road tax of €302 per annum. Powered by a 1.8-litre, 184bhp four-cylinder engine, it delivers a top speed of 236km/h and a 0-100km/h time of seven seconds while having a promised low fuel consumption of just 6.0 litres per 100kms or 47mpg.
Other models include the SLK 250 BE with 204bhp and the range-topping SLK 350 BE with its 3.5 litre, 306bhp V6 engine – powerful enough to deliver an electronically-limited speed of 250km/h and 0-100km/h (62mph ) time of 5.6 seconds.
But the model most likely to find favour with Irish drivers – and the one on which emphasis will be placed – is the four-cylinder diesel powered SLK 250 CDI Blue Efficiency version. It is the first time Mercedes-Benz has offered a diesel option in this model category. Price for this model has yet to be agreed and will be announced closer to its introduction. However, expect to see it around €43,500 ex-works.
Mercedes-Benz sales manager in Ireland, Ciaran Allen, says: "In a nutshell, I would described the new SLK as a model that will fulfill the market’s need for an affordable premium coupé cum roadster convertible.”