Picture this scenario. You already have a SUV or a sedan as a daily ride or for that occasional “balik kampong” (home-coming) trip during the holidays. You are successful, have about RM 200k to spare and looking for a lifestyle vehicle to accentuate that you have reached a certain social status. You want a 2-seater so you can bring your wife/husband/mistress* off for a dirty weekend. How does a 2-seater convertible (or cabriolet, depending on which continent you are from) sound? Let me tell you top 3 reasons why a convertible is the best choice in this matter.
- Convertibles respond to your mood. Roof up when you don’t want to show your sour face and roof down when you are cheery.
- Convertibles are great for relationships. With the roof down, it would be too noisy to engage in arguements anyway. Oh and remember that dirty weekend*?
- Convertibles are fun. Wind in your hair, sun on your face and the smell of nature. A beautiful day would be amplified by driving with the roof down.
Despite the moniker 200, the engine size is only a 1.8 litre. Boosted by a supercharger, the engine outputs 161 hp, which isn’t a tarmac scorcher but sufficient enough for city and highway use. This means that road tax fees are easy on the pocket. The retractable hard top roof is a plus compared to the canvas roof as the latter is susceptible to thieves who has no qualms on slicing the canvas open. The canvas also needs TLC in hot weather like ours. Roof folding is quick. Transformation from roofed to roofless takes about 12 seconds.
Every Rose has its thorns and the SLK is no different. I find the rear thick B-pillar hinders view from the side, especially if you are reversing out from a car park. Being a roadster, the front bonnet is long, meaning you would need very good judgement in order to avoid hitting something in front.
A good 2nd hand unit, manufactured in the year 2006, costs circa RM 180k now, which was almost half of what it was when it was new. For the same amount of money, you can get a brand new VW Scirocco TSi or a Toyota Camry 2.4, but those aren’t convertible. Combined with good looks and mechanical reliability, the SLK 200 Kompressor would probably appeal most to those whose definition of life is to leisurely stroll to their destination, taking things slow, nice and easy.
- There are convertible owners who shun the sun, which means that its very likely the car was never driven roof down before. Do check if the roof can move in one swift motion without any hiccups in between. Walk away immediately if you encounter any problems as this usually means hefty repair bills later.
- Look out for the condition of the rubber and seals surrounding the roof. If the car is parked under the sun for long time, it is very likely that the UV-rays has already worked its magic on it and signs of deterioration can be seen. Badly worn rubber also means that during heavy rain, water may leak into the cabin.
- The underside of the front bumper may be scratched due to long overhang but is a norm with any low slung car. Ensure that the car is accident free. Certain independent Mercedes Benz workshops provide car inspection services for a fee, which includes both computer checks and body and chassis checks.