During the mid-1990s, two-seat roadsters such as the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z3 encouraged Mercedes-Benz's participation in the performance car segment. Teasing a pair of concept vehicles at auto shows debuting in 1994, Mercedes-Benz developed the production SLK in time to appear in North America for the 1998 model year. When the Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster premiered, an instantly defining feature was its Vario-Roof power retractable hardtop. Introduced as the SLK 230 Kompressor, the two-passenger roadster was propelled by a supercharged 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine generating 193 horsepower. A 3.2-liter V-6 powered version was added in 2001 while a 349-horsepower, AMG-equipped Mercedes-Benz SLK debuted for 2002. Through a second generation redesign for 2005, the SLK adopted a Formula 1-inspired front end treatment. Featuring a strengthened structure, the 2005 Mercedes-Benz roadster also included an SLK55 AMG equipped with a 355 horsepower eight-cylinder engine. The third-generation Mercedes-Benz SLK debuted for 2012 adopting more design influence from the SL. Available on the updated SLK, a Magic Sky Control glass roof that can change levels of transparency. For 2017, the SLK nameplate will be replaced by the SLC.
The 1999 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is a luxury compact sports car that seats two passengers and features a power retractable hardtop for open-air motoring, and it is available with a manual transmission.