Mercedes Doesn't Need A Roadster Smaller Than The SLK

The Mercedes-Benz SLK actually gets very little attention these days considering how novel and iconic it was when it launched in 1997. So the last thing Mercedes needs now is a smaller roadster to attract attention. That's why the rumor of an SLA needs to die.

Car and Driver pulled up a rumor recently about Mercedes bringing an A-Class-based roadster into its lineup. It's a buggy little rumor that's been sticking around ever since the Vision SLA concept in 200 at the Detroit Auto Show. And despite company insiders saying they never really liked the concept in the first place, the rumblings have resurfaced.

The SLA was an OK-looking roadster, though admirable given the tall proportions of the first A-Class hatchback. According to Daimler, it was powered by a 1.9-liter four-cylinder making just 125 horses with a five-speed manual.

With front-wheel drive and that small engine, it sounds a little like the Mini Roadster that's out now. But we see how well that's selling.

We didn't get the car. We did get that nose on the second-generation SLK. It was also covered in LEDs. So forward-thinking.

At first I thought the idea of an SLA based on the new CLA would be a great idea because of course there would be an obvious excuse to make a bonkers SLA45 AMG. But then I went on the Mercedes website and found out the least expensive SLK, the 201-horse SLK250 with a six-speed manual, is about $44,000. That's roughly $30,000 in 1997 money.

Of course, adding anything to make it desirable like bigger wheels or metallic paint or the famed Airscarf system jacks up the price to about $50,000, but it makes you realize there isn't much room in the lineup for a Mercedes roadster that moves just a few thousand units a year.

Really, Mercedes needs to promote the SLK more. That folding hardtop is still neat, and the third-generation car is actually decent to look at. It's also the only route these days if you want a stick-shift Mercedes in the US today. The SLK is arguably a forgotten gem and the last thing it needs is internal competition.

So can we finally let the rumored SLA die?

Photo: Mercedes-Benz