M-B SLK features seductive new styling, advanced tech
By IRA SIEGEL For Sun-Times Media August 27, 2012 3:33PM
2012 MERCEDES-BENZ SLK350
ENGINE: 302-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6
TRANSMISSION: seven-speed automatic
DRIVETRAIN: rear-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 20 city/ 29 highway
BASE PRICE: $54,800
AS TESTED: $62,835 (includes $875 for destination)
Updated: August 28, 2012 11:01AM
When the Mercedes-Benz SLK first arrived on our shores in January 1997, the roadster version received much attention due to its bold design and sophisticated retractable hardtop.
Back then, only the SLK and Mitsubishi 3000 GT Spyder featured retractable hardtops. Now, with so many other vehicles offering a retractable hardtop, it’s not as much of a novelty as it once was.
Still, it’s very cool to watch a retractable hardtop vehicle transform from coupe to convertible and back.
The first SLKs were initially offered with a 185-horsepower supercharged four-cylinder engine teamed to a five-speed automatic transmission. More power came later as the SLK evolved over the years. The SLK is a desirable and luxurious roadster but it was in need of a redesign.
There’s a lot to like about the new SLK. For 2012 the all-new SLK features seductive styling, improved performance, a long list of luxurious amenities and safety features, and a much improved ride with better handling attributes.
Now in its third generation, the 2012 SLK benefits from an updated platform that is shared with the C-Class. That’s a great foundation and the new SLK is a pure delight to all the senses.
I give SLK’s exterior styling high marks. You can’t help but stare at the SLK and want to drive it. Up front, SLK sports a captivating SLS AMG-inspired wide front grille.
Looking at the grille, the sculpted lines and swept headlamp assemblies, it appears as if SLK is a bit cross. But it’s the kind of angry look you want in a sexy, purposeful roadster. It’s got attitude.
Three variations of the SLK are available for 2012: SLK250 ($42,500), SLK350 ($54,800) and SLK55 AMG ($67,500).
A new turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 201 horsepower is fitted to the SLK250. The SLK250 is also the only SLK that can be had with a manual (six-speed) gearbox. A seven-speed automatic is optional in the SLK250.
The SLK350 is equipped with a 302-horsepower naturally-aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. The seven-speed automatic can be shifted manually via steering wheel-mounted shift paddles.
The SLK55 AMG is powered by a potent 415-horsepower naturally-aspirated 5.5-liter V-8 teamed with an AMG SpeedShift Plus seven-speed automatic. This version is for enthusiasts.
Regardless of which SLK you choose, the remarkable retractable hardtop lets you go from a quiet weather-tight coupe to a roadster, or vice-versa, in just 20 seconds. That’s about two seconds faster than its predecessor.
As an added bonus, the SLK’s folded roof takes up little trunk space. With the top down you and your passenger will still find plenty of room to fit your bags for a weekend excursion.
A very cool, or should I say warm option, is the Airscarf system. It can extend open-air motoring into the cooler months thanks to a nifty neck-level heating system that blows warm air from the driver and passenger head restraints. This system even compensates automatically for changes in vehicle speed.
Another clever option is a glass panel roof known as Magic Sky Control. When desired, the glass roof can be switched from allowing light in to reducing sunlight allowed in. This is the same electrochromic technology used by automatic dimming mirrors, but with the driver’s control.
SLK is also available with sun-reflecting leather seats. And all SLKs come standard with the innovative Attention Assist system that alerts the driver when it detects that the driver is beginning to get drowsy.
The cockpit is snug but easily accommodated my 6-foot 3-inch frame. My 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK350 tester was extremely fun to drive top up, or better yet, top down. The current SLK feels a bit more agile on twisty roads while still providing a comfortable ride around town. The V-6 in my SLK350 was responsive and provided plenty of power for takeoffs and passing.
This is by far the best-handling SLK to date. With its impressive driving dynamics and attractive styling, the SLK is a highly desirable and luxurious roadster.
You Might Like
- Beetle Convertible debuts with sportier style
- Lexus ES350 maintains luxury feel
- Jeep Wrangler Sport a dual-purpose SUV
- Click & Clack: How to replace a car’s interior
- Chrysler Group makes substantial investment in Ohio machining plant
- Chevrolet Equinox a distinctive and comfortable crossover
- New Ford Explorer Sport a high-performance SUV