We never exactly needed an excuse to fawn over any of the incredible Mercedes-Benz C 111 prototype sports cars, but if Mercedes says the European launch of a diesel-powered SLK roadster — the SLK250 — is the ideal time to pull the C 111-IID out of storage for some press shots, who are we to argue?
We’ve known about the SLK250 for a few months now, but today marks the first day European customers can purchase one. The SLK250 shares the same mill found in the C250 BlueEfficiency, which is a2.2-liter, turbo-diesel I-4 rated at 204 hp and a whopping 369 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a seven-speed automatic, although a six-speed manual will be offered next spring. Mercedes-Benz says its diesel droptop will go from 0-62 mph in just 6.7 seconds and should “counter the common misconception that diesel engines and sports cars are incompatible.”
Arguably the company’s C 111-II D and C 111-III prototypes did so much long ago. The C111 was a gullwing-doored research vehicle created in the 1970s to serve as a test bed for future technologies. The C111-I utilized a gas-powered Wankel rotary engine, but the C111-II, III, and IV were all diesel-powered. The C 111-III featured a diesel I-5 that was rated at 230 hp, and ultimately posted a record-setting 199 mph average speed while traveling for over an hour on a racetrack.
Mercedes says the SLK250 realizes the promise set by the C 111 series — we agree somewhat. Yes, it’s a diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz sports car, but darned if it’s just not quite as stunning and otherworldly as any of the C 111 prototypes…