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2004 W220 (S430) ; 2001 R129 (SL500) Sport
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Discussion Starter #1
I have an '04 W220 (S430) and it's been a very good and reliable vehicle, although it is nightmarishly complex and expensive when it does need repair. I'm thinking of a roadster for weekends and summer trips. I don't really want another complex and expensive vehicle, so the SL is not what I'm considering. The SLK seems a pretty good combination of affordability, sport, relative simplicity, and a hard roof. I've looked for the answer but had no luck on the search function. How about it guys...which version to buy, what to look out for, and where are the problems? I've qualified for IMSA and SCCA competition licenses (expired long ago), so I'm not necessarily going to be an easy driver. I maintain my cars meticulously, and they are repaired to the factory specs. Help me out.
 

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2004 W220 (S430) ; 2001 R129 (SL500) Sport
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1,335 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
I forgot to add it would be a used version; so model years to find or avoid would also be helpful. I'll let someone else take the new car depreciation hit.
 

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I've had my SLK300 since September '09 and so far nothing has really broken or gone wrong except for the outside temperature sensor wanted to read 60F for about 24 hours after a car wash even though I know it was not 60F outside. Problem seemed to fix itself after 24 hours.

I'm not intimately familiar w/these cars, or MBs in general for that matter, since this is my first MB and I'm new to the brand, but so far in hanging out on this forum I can't say that I've noticed any recurring complaints about certain issues. I can only therefore add that on very general terms that you're better off buying one that's later into the model run (e.g.: a 2008 or 2009 vs. a 2005) in case there were any initial bugs to be worked out.

Also for pre-09 models, expand your search to the SLK 280 which is the same as the SLK 300 (the 280 was renamed to 300 to match the engine size which was always 3.0L on the two cars).
 

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SLK 280 2007, C180 Cgi estate 2011
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126 Posts
I would say that the current SLK has three main problem areas (all of which I have unfortunately experienced...!), as identified by many of the used car review sites and some mags:

- Aircon problems (leaks etc)
- Seats (mountings, sometimes heating elements)
- Minor electrical (switches etc)

All are expensive to put right withour warranty. The good news is that these are all quite minor matters and the bits that really count - engine and drivetrain - seem to be very strong and reliable.

I have never owned an SL, but I would hesitate to call the SLK a less complex car. The SL is of bigger and more luxurious, but in terms of complexity and number of items that could go wrong, I would imagine that both rank pretty equally.

As for chosing between the 300 and 350, I chose to get a 280 (300) with all the must-have accessories I wanted (7G gearbox, airscarf etc) over a 350 without. Turn of speed is fine for me and exhaust note beautiful. If funds had allowed, of course, I would have taken the 350 with all mod-cons! No real difference in economy but a huge difference in power output. Just look out for early 350's as they had oil consumption issues.
 

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SLK350 sport package black 040
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I think a 2007 350 or 300 would be a good choice, depending on how much fun you want to have. I would prefer a 6-gearbox, the 6th and the 7th gear of the automatic transmission are too long. Airscarf is nice for girls and you should look for Nappa leather, the standard is crap. Sportpackage is nice if you like red/black combinations and a stiffer drive.
 
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