First Look: 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK Roadster

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The SLS influence continues within, as the SLK’s cabin has been completely reworked to resemble that of the gullwinged supercar, albeit in three-quarter scale. A long, wide center console gently flows into a short center stack, while four large vents all but dominate an otherwise unobstructed dashboard. The addition of Mercedes-Benz’s COMAND multimedia interface just below the shifter simplifies control arrangements, while accent lighting on both the door panels and center stack provides some additional ambiance at night. The neck-level Airscarf heating system remains an option, much like the new Airguide wind diffusers, which rotate out from the rollbar hoops.

The cosmetic makeover is certainly refreshing, but Benz hasn’t forgotten about the mechanicals wrapped beneath the new sheetmetal. For the first time since 2003, the SLK will be offered in four-cylinder form. The new SLK250, which replaces the SLK300 and its 3.0-liter V-6, uses the same twin-turbocharged 1.8-liter I-4 found in the 2012 C250 sedan. Predictably, it’s rated at the same 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque, and mated to either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional seven-speed automatic.

The SLK350 returns for 2012, and its 3.5-liter V-6 has been refreshed for the new model cycle. Thanks to a few revisions (including the introduction of direct fuel injection), the six-cylinder now produces 302 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque.

Although the SLK250 won’t arrive stateside until early 2012, the revamped 2012 SLK350 is expected to reach dealers beginning this summer. Look for additional information and finalized pricing data to be released shortly before the cars roll into showrooms.

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