2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

Change Year or Vehicle
$14,377–$32,537 Inventory Prices
SAVE
Key Specs
Our Take
Road Test
Photos
Reviews
Safety & Recalls
Warranty & CPO
Compare
Back to top

Key Specs

of the 2012 Mercedes‑Benz SLK‑Class. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • V-6 drivetrain (SLK350)
  • Improved handling
  • Interior quality
  • Intuitive multimedia system
  • Top-down wind protection

The Bad

  • Ride over rough pavement
  • Accelerator lag
  • Inconsistent steering
  • Seat comfort
  • Slow convertible top

Notable Features of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

  • Redesigned for 2012
  • Turbo four-cylinder (SLK250), V-6 (SLK350) or V-8 (SLK55 AMG)
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • Manual (SLK250) or automatic (all)
  • Standard power-retractable hardtop
  • New variable-tint moonroof

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Road Test

Kelsey Mays

The 2012 Mercedes SLK looks sharper than ever, with driving and luxury to match.

Since the Mercedes-Benz SLK made its debut, its styling has been writing checks the rest of the car couldn't cash. The 2012 redesign has improved the SLK in many respects. Driving enthusiasts will still lean toward a BMW Z4 or Porsche Boxster, which outperform the SLK at the extremes, but the gap is closing.

The V-6-powered SLK350 comes standard with a seven-speed automatic. Starting in February, Mercedes will offer an SLK250, with a turbocharged four-cylinder running through the automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. February will also mark the debut of a V-8 SLK55 AMG, which comes only with the automatic. All three cars have rear-wheel drive and a standard power-retractable hardtop. We evaluated an SLK350; click here to compare it with last year's SLK.

Getting Around
The SLK350's 302-horsepower V-6 feels burlier than its 3.5-liter displacement suggests, but it's best driven in the automatic transmission's Sport mode. The alternative — Eco mode — makes for recalcitrant downshifts and tepid acceleration off the line — a recurring complaint I have in Mercedes vehicles. (Alas, there's no mode between Eco and Sport.) Sport mode doesn't eliminate accelerator lag, but it makes start-offs responsive enough and highway kickdown improves a great deal.

Driven hard in Sport, the SLK350 moves out well, kicking down three or four gears at once to bar...

The 2012 Mercedes SLK looks sharper than ever, with driving and luxury to match.

Since the Mercedes-Benz SLK made its debut, its styling has been writing checks the rest of the car couldn't cash. The 2012 redesign has improved the SLK in many respects. Driving enthusiasts will still lean toward a BMW Z4 or Porsche Boxster, which outperform the SLK at the extremes, but the gap is closing.

The V-6-powered SLK350 comes standard with a seven-speed automatic. Starting in February, Mercedes will offer an SLK250, with a turbocharged four-cylinder running through the automatic transmission or a six-speed manual. February will also mark the debut of a V-8 SLK55 AMG, which comes only with the automatic. All three cars have rear-wheel drive and a standard power-retractable hardtop. We evaluated an SLK350; click here to compare it with last year's SLK.

Getting Around
The SLK350's 302-horsepower V-6 feels burlier than its 3.5-liter displacement suggests, but it's best driven in the automatic transmission's Sport mode. The alternative — Eco mode — makes for recalcitrant downshifts and tepid acceleration off the line — a recurring complaint I have in Mercedes vehicles. (Alas, there's no mode between Eco and Sport.) Sport mode doesn't eliminate accelerator lag, but it makes start-offs responsive enough and highway kickdown improves a great deal.

Driven hard in Sport, the SLK350 moves out well, kicking down three or four gears at once to barrel up to speed. Curiously, the transmission's steering-wheel paddle shifters effect a slower response: Request a few downshifts and the gearbox ticks through the intermediary gears en route to what you want. It's best to leave the SLK in Sport mode, mash the pedal and let the gearbox do its thing.

Mercedes says the SLK350 hits 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, while the 201-hp SLK250 takes 6.5 seconds. That's snappy enough, to be sure, but pokier than the Porsche Boxster, Audi TT and BMW Z4 with comparable drivetrains. If you prefer to smoke two out of three, the SLK55 AMG's 415-hp V-8 hits 60 mph in 4.5 seconds — quicker than all but the newest version of Audi's coupe, the TT RS.

The SLK steers confidently, with good midcorner feedback, albeit less precision than the laser-like Boxster. The Mercedes holds course well enough, though, allowing controlled slides if you deactivate the electronic stability system. Ride quality improves, too: Our tester's suspension filtered out small bumps with none of its predecessor's floaty jitters. Typical of a hardtop convertible, top-up driving is as quiet as you'd get in a coupe. Major bumps disrupt the peace, prompting one editor to denounce the SLK's ride altogether. The optional adaptive suspension might fare better, but our test car didn't have it. Note, too, that the SLK55's steering and suspension have unique, higher-performance tuning.

Outside & In
Wider and longer than its predecessor, the new SLK takes cues from Mercedes' SLS AMG supercar. The lower taillights might not be for everyone, but the roadster's nose should find few detractors. Mercedes says inspiration for the forward, upright grille comes from the 1955-63 190SL, much like the SLS' relation to the gull-winged 300 SL. I approve.

The SLK250 has 17-inch alloy wheels, while the SLK350 has 18s. The SLK55 has wider 18s, among other additions: LED running lights, reworked ground effects and darker lights. All trims have a power-folding hardtop, but it crawls: It takes 30 seconds to operate, including putting the windows back up.

A solid metal roof is standard. Mercedes' optional Magic Sky Control replaces it with a glass panel, which you can vary from clear to opaque with the touch of a button. For less money, the automaker offers fixed-tint glass, which our test car had. Take note: There's no sun shade, and in direct sunlight the tint doesn't stop the cabin from baking.

Cabin materials have improved, with genuine aluminum trim, hefty controls and more consistent paneling than last year's SLK. Two navigation systems have screens measuring 5.8 and 7 inches. Our test car had the latter; it's a more robust system that couples with Mercedes' intuitive Comand knob-based control system.

The seats, unfortunately, remain too stiff, with little payoff on curvy roads. Get the SLK in a tight sweeper, and your backside still slides too much. Power adjustments are standard, but tall drivers will want more range. At 5-foot-11, I drove with the chair all the way back.

Trunk volume is 10.1 cubic feet, falling to 6.4 cubic feet with the convertible top lowered. Both figures compare to the Z4, but that illustrates a drawback of folding hardtops. The soft-top TT and Boxster don't encroach on luggage room when you lower the roof.

Safety, Features & Pricing
The SLK hasn't been crash-tested, and given its limited sales volume it probably won't be. Standard features include eight airbags and the federally required antilock brakes and electronic stability system; click here for a full list of safety features.

Standard features on the SLK350 include power-adjustable leather seats, the automatic transmission, a power-folding hardtop, Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, and a CD stereo with USB/iPod connectivity. Options include upgraded leather, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, two navigation systems, two glass roofs (one of them variable tint) and adaptive xenon headlights. Check all the factory options, and the SLK350 tops out near $70,000.

As of this writing, Mercedes has yet to spec and price the SLK250 and SLK55. Expect them to bookend the SLK350's price, with fewer standard features in the SLK250 and more in the SLK55.

SLK in the Market
Short of perhaps the SLK55, the SLK still shies away from hard-core performance — something the Boxster embraces and the Z4 hits on well enough. But the Mercedes comes closer to the mark than it used to, and it doesn't sacrifice too much along the way. Styling and cabin quality alone should sell the car. Its chief aggravation — accelerator lag — is endemic to Mercedes overall, and it hasn't stymied the brand's sales uptick so far. The new SLK is far from perfect, but it's the best one yet.

Send Kelsey an email  



What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.9)
Performance
(4.9)
Interior Design
(4.9)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.9)
Value For The Money
(4.6)

Latest Reviews

(5.0)

Best looking car I've ever owned

by Old Sporty Guy from Dallas TX on April 27, 2018

Sporty, stylish and an eye catcher. I've received more positive compliments on this car that any car I've ever owned. This car is also the fastest car I've ever owned not to mention my first ... Read full review

(5.0)

Fastest and most stylish car I?ve ever owned

by Sporty Old Guy from Dallas TX on April 25, 2018

I?ve loved this car from the first time I test drove it to the day I accepted delivery. I? m constantly getting compliments on how beautiful the car is. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class currently has 1 recall

Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class has not been tested.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    48 months / 50,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    48 months / 50,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Mercedes-Benz

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, trip-interruption services, trip-planning services and Carfax vehicle history report

  • Limited Warranty

    5 years / Unlimited Miles*

    Up to 5 years/Unlimited miles from original in-service date if purchased while under original warranty, or 1 year/Unlimited miles if purchased outside of new-vehicle warranty; no deductible, transferable to subsequent owners
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 75,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a Rigorous inspection by factory-certified technicians.

Change Year or Vehicle

0 / 0 0 Photos
0 / 0

Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The SLK-Class received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker