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ISN'T LIFE JUST GRAND? Looks and performance... you get them both in spades: RoadTest.

Byline: Patrick James

Mercedes SLK 200 Kompressor Grand Edition IT takes real confidence to give a model a name like Grand Edition.

With that tag the car needs to be good, and there's no doubt that Merc's baby convertible has always been a stunner.

The sleek lines and raked large bonnet tapering to a sharp Vshaped front end with chrometrimmed fog lamps make the SLK a really desirable car.

The rear end is just as smart with distinctive light cluster that also features a third brake light, twin chrome exhausts, and to top it all off there's the legendary steel roof which folds away in seconds at the touch of a button.

The Grand Edition adds even more exclusivity. It went into production in April this year with only 150 being built.

At pounds 33,135 it offers an extra pounds 800 worth of added equipment over the standard model at no extra cost.

This includes five-spoke alloy wheel, silver fins trimming the bonnet and exclusive Grand Edition silver badging both on the outside and interior of the car, plus headlamps with dark surrounds.

The test model sported AMG trim at an extra cost of pounds 2,605, so it could hardly fail to look good.

The interior features the Grand Edition logo stitched into the slim, heated, grey Nappa seats, while the neat leather multifunction steering wheel is leather trimmed, as are the doors and centre console.

The car also has as standard the clever Airscarf, which pumps warm air to the back of the neck via the top of the seat, allowing for roof down driving in all temperatures.

The interior is well built, comfortable and, generally put together with high quality materials, but some of the plastics do let it down slightly on a car of this price.

But there's no doubting the sheer kudos of driving it. The roof folds up and down in under 20 seconds and you instantly the centre of attention.

The Grand Edition is only available in SLK 200 Kompressor format with a lively 1.8 engine powering the vehicle.

Normally mated to a six-speed gearbox, this model featured a fivespeed auto box with tiptronic paddle change. I think I would have preferred the manual, because at an extra pounds 1,490, I found the gearchanges laboured prompting me to use the Tiptronic controls.

A shame really because the 184bhp engine in such a small body produces an impressive amount of grunt.

Not only is it powerful, it is also refined and even with the roof down engine noise is muted except when you floor the thottle.

Then you get a nice rasping note from the twin exhausts. It accelerates to 60mph in just over seven seconds so performance is good. Even with the roof down it still feels fairly rigid, although no match for proper sports cars.

The ride is firm and all-round vision is good considering the low-slung position of the seats. This also means occupants are not buffeted by the wind, making this one of the most comfortable of convertibles.

For an extra pounds 205 you can opt for Direct Steering which adds extra lock to the wheels for better manoeuverability.

Economy is surprisingly good for what is quite a heavy car for the size. Claimed average consumption is 34.9, while CO2 emissions are 196g/km. Both figures improve slightly with the manual option Although the car is not cheap, it is well equipped with the usual electric windows and door mirrors, automatic headlights, an excellent sound system with Bluetooth capability, front and side airbags and electronic stability programme for safety. Being a two-seater roadster, the car is not the most practical and with the roof folded away, boot space is only 208 litres, 300 with the roof in place.

But buyers do not go for this type of car for practicality. It's all about the looks and performance, and you get this in spades. And when you have had enough residual values mean you won't have lost and arm and a leg.

Not a cheap car and the added extras on this model took the total cost to more than pounds 40,000, but this is still one of the best looking cars on the road.

FastFacts MODEL: Mercedes SLK 200 Kompressor Grand Edition PRICE: pounds 33,135 MECHANICAL: 184bhp, 1796cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox MAX SPEED: 147mph 0.62MPH: 7.6 seconds COMBINED MPG: 36.2 INSURANCE GROUP: 16 CO2 EMISSIONS: 196g/km COMPANY TAXT RATA ING: 26% WARRANTY: 3yrs/ unlimited miles
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Aug 6, 2010
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