Mercedes-Benz SLK 250 CDI: Does A Diesel Sports Car Really Work?


Mercedes-Benz SLK 250 CDI

Mercedes-Benz has form when it comes to automotive innovation. Karl Benz himself innovated the motorcar. The Benz Patent Motorwagen is widely regarded as the first proper car but between its inception and now quite a bit has changed.

Now cars have roofs, decent tyres, stereos, more than 1bhp and very different fuels to power them. Petrol, the motion lotion of choice, offers a lovely noise, plenty of power and some pretty decent economy; diesel was, for a long time, seen a smelly, slow and for penny pinchers, however after hefty advances in engineering it’s become almost just as quick as petrol, clean and hyper-economical. Ideal, then, for a saloon or SUV. But what about for a sports car?

A sports car is supposed to exude elegance and cool while emitting a smooth, slinky noise. Now, diesel still isn’t associated with aural joy, is it? So you’ll have to excuse my confusion as to why Mercedes has put a diesel motor in its SLK sports car…

The specs show that it’s got a fair bit of shove, Mercedes’ engineering prowess means it’s a really good steer and, while I’ll fully concede beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I think it’s a bit of a looker.

The SLK’s evolution is an interesting one. It started off as a blocky wee thing, then evolved in to a far smoother affair. Now it’s far more purposeful, aggressive even.

SLK, in case you’re wondering stands for ‘Sportlich’, ‘Leight’ and ‘Kurtz’ — sporty, light and short. It was supposed to be Merc’s small sports car, sitting beneath the SL. It’s not all that ‘kurtz’ any more though.

Anyway, marrying a diesel engine and a sports car together… will it work? It’s something I really can’t get my head around. I don’t see how the rumbly, penny pinching nature of a diesel can possibly compliment something as entertaining as a sports car. So I set about finding out…

Mercedes SLK 250 CDI

Engine: 2.1-litre four cyl turbodiesel
Power: 201bhp
Torque: 368lb ft
0-60mph: 6.7seconds
Top speed: 151mph