The SLK is a compact roadster manufactured by Mercedes-Benz in three generations; R170 launched in 1996, the R171 in 2004 and R172 in 2011. As one of the first modern retractable hardtop convertibles, the SLK followed the 1995 Mitsubishi 3000GT Spyder and preceded other retractable hardtops such as the Peugeot 206cc, Lexus SC, Pontiac G6 and the Chrysler Sebring. The SLK Vario-roof was first shown on the SLK II concept car at the 1994 Paris Motor Show. The car went on sale two years later in Europe, and in 1997 in the US. The SLK is built in Bremen, Germany. The designation SLK derives from the company's design mission to create a roadster that was at once sporty, light and short in German: Sportlich, Leicht und Kurz. At start of the 1990s, after the introduction of their two-seater grand-tourer R129 SL and the Mazda MX-5, Mercedes-Benz set out to create a new compact roadster, slotted below the SL.
Contributions by 842U, Warren Whyte, and Sfoskett.