2002 Mercedes-Benz SLK32 AMG Convertible
Mercedes-Benz began offering a junior SL sports car, badged the SLK (and given the internal code number R170) in 1996 and the new model proved a resounding success for the German marque, one that continues to sell strongly today. Designed by stylist Bruno Sacco, the original SLK was characterised by clean, sharp lines and the clever folding roof mechanism, which became the benchmark for all future open-topped cars. The original SLK (the K stood for Kurz, or short in English) was initially only available with a range of four and six-cylinder engines but it wasn't long before the company's in-house tuning wizards AMG turned their attention to the model, the resulting SLK32 released in 2001. Under the bonnet the high performance SLK received a supercharged 3.2-litre V6 boasting no less than 260kW (349bhp), with a 'Speedshift' five-speed transmission that claimed to have a 35 per cent improvement in shift times over the regular automatic box. Every engine was hand-built and signed by an AMG engineer, while the rest of the car was suitably upgraded, including the brakes and suspension, to cope with the additional power. Unsurprisingly given the list price when new, few of these cars made it to Australia and official figures show just 28 were sold here (from a production run totalling 4,333 units). As a junior supercar the SLK32 has plenty to offer, with enough grunt to turn the baby Mercedes-Benz sports car into a serious rival for the BMW M Roadster and Porsche Boxster S - for example, it could sprint from 0-100 km/h in just 5.2 seconds.