Redesigned for 2012, Mercedes' third-generation SLK roadster continues to offer a folding metal hardtop, but it can now come with Mercedes' Magic Sky Control, a glass roof panel with variable transparency. On sale in summer 2011, the SLK-Class will come initially as an SLK350 with a 3.5-liter V-6. Starting in early 2012, Mercedes will add an SLK250, with a turbocharged four-cylinder, as an entry-level model. Competitors to both cars include the Audi TT, BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster.
A high-performance AMG variant is dubbed SLK55 AMG.
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The new SLK is about an inch longer and wider than its predecessor, but it's still one of the shorter cars in its class. Like on the SLS-Class supercar, the SLK's grille sits low and well ahead of the headlights; a single chrome band divides it, with Mercedes' three-pointed star sitting front and center. Like many new luxury cars, the SLK uses LEDs in its taillights and daytime running lights. Exterior features include:
- Standard power-retracting hardtop
- Standard dual tailpipes
- Optional adaptive xenon headlights
- Optional keyless access system
- Optional Magic Sky Control, a glass ceiling panel that goes from transparent to opaque at the touch of a button
A more shelf-like dashboard dominates the new SLK's two-seat interior; Mercedes says it used horizontal shapes to emphasize the car's width. A standard 5.8-inch center screen houses the stereo and optional navigation displays. The automaker says the SLK's glove compartment is 26 percent larger than its predecessor. Trunk volume measures 10.1 cubic feet with the folding hardtop raised and 6.4 cubic feet with it lowered. Interior features include:
- Standard Bluetooth audio streaming
- Standard aluminum trim; optional wood trim
- Standard flat-bottom, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio and cruise controls
- Optional wood-and-leather steering wheel
- Sun-reflecting leather upholstery mitigates heat; optional premium leather
- Optional neck-level heating vents embedded in seatbacks
Under the Hood
The SLK250 uses a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while the SLK350 has a 3.5-liter V-6. Mercedes says the SLK250 accelerates to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds, while the SLK350 takes 5.4 seconds. Mechanical features include:
- Turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder with 201 horsepower and 229 pounds-feet of torque (SLK250)
- 3.5-liter V-6 with 302 hp and 273 pounds-feet of torque (SLK350)
- SLK250 comes with a six-speed manual or seven speed automatic; SLK350 comes only with the automatic
Mercedes' Attention Assist feature, which uses dozens of metrics to detect driver drowsiness and alert you accordingly, is standard. So are head-extending side airbags that deploy from the doors.
Mercedes-Benz has revived its high-performance AMG trim (absent for the 2011 model year) for the redesigned 2012 SLK-Class.
The 2012 SLK55 AMG features the only V-8 powertrain offered on the roadster. Like the four-cylinder and six-cylinder, which feature new fuel economy measures, the new V-8 is also more fuel efficient and powerful than its predecessor.
The 415-hp, 5.5-liter V-8 produces 60 hp more than the last generation's 5.4-liter V-8. That's achieved through a high-pressured fuel-injection system and high compression ratio compared with the outgoing model. The 2012 model can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds (three-tenths of a second faster than the previous generation) and can reach a top speed of 155 mph.
The new V-8 gains fuel efficiency by implementing stop/start technology and cylinder deactivation and by using more lightweight aluminum in the casting of the powertrain. Mercedes says the new motor will be "significantly" more fuel efficient than the outgoing V-8, but didn't mention actual figures as of publication. (The old model achieved 14/22 mpg city/highway.)
Besides the V-8 powertrain, the AMG model distinguishes itself from the regular trims through AMG-specific aesthetic upgrades: light-alloy wheels, a large front air dam, ground effects kit, a spoiler lip and chrome-plated twin tailpipes.
On the inside, the SLK55 AMG gets a center console analog clock, aluminum trim and pedals, AMG-specific steering wheel, unique instrument cluster and sport bucket seats. The SLK55 also features a standard hardtop retractable roof with a full glass pane that can be electronically switched to be transparent or opaque.
The 2012 SLK55 AMG goes on sale in early 2012. Back to top