First drive: Mercedes SLK

Nic Cackett

Despite being with us for the past 15 years, the Mercedes SLK is not a car which has forced itself onto the shortlist of the average UK enthusiast. The roadster is more likely to be found languishing in a long term airport car park or on Chelsea's King's Road than it is being unceremoniously nailed on the nearest B road.

Its reputation as a mobile make-up mirror for air stewardesses is a tribute to Mercedes' brand strength, the practical all-weather appeal of its pioneering folding tin top and a refined reputation. The reason for a lack of love amongst the nation's (largely male) sports car customer base was a shortfall in power combined with the SLK's lacklustre handling and the original model's slightly cutesy styling.