2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

SLK250 RWD 2-Dr Convertible I4 man trans

2012 mercedes-benz slk-class Reviews and News

2012 Mercedes Benz SLK55 AMG Front View 2
When Mercedes handed us the keys to the SLK55 AMG and asked us to drive it to a race track two hours south of the Golden Gate Bridge, we knew we'd be experiencing a certain corkscrew. That corkscrew wound up being the kind used to open bottles of wine at dinner that evening, not the famed corner with the big vertical drop. That we drove the SLK to a race track -- but not on the race track -- is telling.
It's not for a lack of capability, mind you. The SLK55 AMG slings itself to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, accompanied by the screams of 415 combusting horses racing out of its quad chrome exhaust pipes. Cornering forces are no match for the stiff suspension, which never quite settles down on bumpy roads but refuses to relinquish grip over the worst broken pavement. The oversize brakes easily shave off the 3527-lb SLK's copious speed again and again, and the computer will even grab one of the rear rotors to help rotate the little roadster on turn-in. The steering is well-weighted, accurate, quick and communicative. Dynamically, the SLK leaves very little to be desired. That's not a surprise.
Our surprise was Mercedes' focus on improving fuel economy -- and particularly, the company's unique method of chasing improvements. While the rest of the world, including Mercedes itself, is downsizing and turbocharging, the Swabians engineered a big, new, normally aspirated V-8 for the SLK. This isn't the old three-valve 5.4-liter "55" engine, nor is it a smaller version of the AMG-designed 6.2-liter "63" engine. The SLK55's V-8, code name M152, is a turboless version of the 5.5-liter twin-turbo M157 V-8s we're seeing elsewhere in the Benz lineup. In place of turbos for more power, the 7200-rpm brute uses cylinder deactivation for better fuel economy.
Under light loads between 800 and 3600 rpm and with the convertible roof in place, the V-8 can disable cylinders 2, 3, 5, and 8 by parking those cylinders' valves and cutting spark and fuel. The transition is completely imperceptible save for a telltale indicator on the dash, and the engine can deliver up to 170 lb-ft of torque running on half its cylinders. Bringing all eight cylinders back to life can be accomplished in as little as 30 milliseconds, says Mercedes, and astute drivers will feel the resurrection in the form of a very slight nudge not unlike that of a torque converter unlocking.
They should also notice a difference at the pump. Combined with other fuel-savings measures (like direct injection, automatic start/stop and a hydraulic power steering pump that, according to Mercedes, only uses power when needed), the new SLK55 should deliver considerably improved fuel economy compared with the last SLK55. That is, of course, despite 60 additional hp and with no sacrifice to the throbbing V-8 soundtrack.
With the BMW Z4 no longer chasing after the Porsche Boxster for all-around performance, Mercedes-Benz's little roadster has also been able to relax. That's true of the four-cylinder SLK250 and the V-6 SLK350, and especially so of the V-8 SLK55 AMG. We'd bet good money that the baby AMG roadster would be a riot around a race track, but kudos to Mercedes for acknowledging that it'll probably never happen. No, the focus was on preserving the V-8's acoustic experience and saving some fuel in the process. More miles per gallon means more pocket money for a sumptuous dinner and an exquisite glass of wine after a thrilling, top-down, back-road drive -- which is precisely what SLK55 AMG customers will be looking forward to doing.
2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350 Front Left Side View
I sat unblinking in the dark office, my chin and forehead pressed against a metal frame, and as my eye doctor slowly maneuvered a glowing purple circle thing up against my eyeball, he began telling me how much he likes his Mercedes-Benz SLK. "The car's been perfect," he said, as I tried to remain motionless. "When I bought it, I also looked at the Porsche Boxster. We took the car out and the salesman was saying, 'Aren't you going to put it through its paces?' and I said, 'But this is how I drive.'"
2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350 Left Side View
As hard as it is for auto reviewers to understand, most drivers -- even drivers of expensive European roadsters -- do not spend their time racing around at 10/10ths, lapping Willow Springs. So while the SLK is probably doomed to never beat a Porsche Boxster in a magazine or web site comparison test, plenty of real-world buyers happily choose it over its more overtly sporty competitors.
With the latest SLK -- the third generation since this car's debut as a 1998 model -- one gets the feeling that Mercedes-Benz is comfortable with what the car is, and what it is not. It is not an aggressive, high-strung, high-performance sports car. It is a comfortable, stylish, sporty, luxurious two-seat convertible.
Speaking of style, this has to be the most successful SLK design to date. The original effort was kind of a mishmash of disparate elements, with a grille and headlights that were rounded-off, nondescript slab sides, and a rear end that featured very angular taillights. The second iteration was dominated by the strange projection at the front end, which was supposed to suggest an F1 car but ended up just looking oddly phallic. The new version has a more upright grille housing a large, three-pointed star, sheetmetal that is more creased, and an overall look that's much closer to its larger, more expensive siblings -- never a bad idea.
The SLK pioneered the retractable hardtop in this segment, a feature that is perfectly in tune with the car's character. For 2012, the top has some new innovations. The hardtop is now optionally available with either a tinted glass roof panel (Panorama sunroof, $500) or with a tinted glass roof panel whose opacity can be adjusted (Magic Sky Control sunroof, $2500). My car had the fixed-tint glass panel roof, which brightens the interior a bit when the roof is up but also allows it to heat up more in the sun (there is no shade). Outward visibility remains good with the top up -- one of the benefits of a retractable hardtop over a soft top. Another is quietness, and indeed the SLK is coupe-quiet on the highway. One downside of a folding metal roof is that they tend to take up quite a bit of trunk space, and that's the case here, although you might be able to go away for the weekend using only the 6.4 cubic feet until the retractable divider that must be in place to lower the roof; if you need all 10.1 cubic feet, then you won't be able to put the top down until you get to where you're going.
The cabin, at least, is comfortable for a long haul, with a good driving position and plenty of room for two, but again, there's not a lot of space for stuff. The seats are well shaped, as is the steering wheel rim. Two options help to extend the top-down driving season. Mercedes' Air Scarf is basically an air vent at the base of the headrests that can blow warm air onto the back of your neck. My SLK was so equipped and on my one slightly chilly day with the car, it worked as advertised. A second option (not on my test car) is called Air Guide, which consists of curved pieces of plexiglass that attach behind the rollover bars and can be positioned to reduce buffeting, although there's already a standard mesh wind deflector that fits in between the rollover bars.
Looking around the interior you're unlikely to find any shortcomings in materials quality -- there are no obvious cut corners anywhere. Leather is standard (which is not a given at Mercedes-Benz) and the trim is aluminum. Wood trim and more expensive leather can be had. The gauges are housed in two deep binnacles, and they look good, although the 160-mph speedometer is crowded into only three-quarters of the circle. Mercedes' Comand system is optional, and its 7-inch LCD screen is clear, bright, and easy to read even in sunlight. The multi-function central controller is supplemented by 10 preset buttons, which is nice for playing the radio. In all, it's a comfortable, upscale environment.
Somewhat surprisingly, Mercedes still offers a manual gearbox here -- or it will, with the 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder that's coming next year. For now, a 3.5-liter V-6 is the only engine available, and for the V-6, the seven-speed automatic, with shift paddles, is the sole gearbox. That transmission's priorities are shifting smoothly and getting into the highest gear as soon as possible, the better to eke out the best possible EPA ratings (in this case, 20/29 mpg). Of course, it willingly downshifts in response to an order from your right foot, but if you want to keep the engine revving in a livelier part of the tach, you'll need to either use the paddles or select sport mode (the latter must be done each time your start the car, as the transmission always defaults to economy mode).
Speaking of the engine, the SLK's 3.5-liter V-6 is not the one from the previous SLK, but a new, direct-injected unit that also does duty in the C-class. Its 302 hp and 273 pound-feet of torque ably motivate this compact roadster -- 0 to 60 happens in 5.4 seconds, which is just 0.1 second behind the SL550. Even so, this isn't exactly a tuneful, exotic powerplant. Below 2000 rpm, where the engine spends much of its time, it just kind of blats; only when you kick it into the higher rev ranges does it emit a more satisfying, sharp, angry growl.
Equipped with Mercedes' so-called Direct Steer power steering system, the SLK responds quickly to inputs but has none of that tactile quality that hard-core enthusiasts crave. At least effort levels are reasonable, and fairly consistent, making the SLK easy to drive. Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, and their low-profile, high-performance tires are the one item that seems a bit like a disconnect in this car. True, they probably do contribute to the SLK's quick turn-in, but they also faithfully telegraph road imperfections to passengers. When they do, at least the car's structure is solid enough that there's no shudder or shimmying in the cabin. Handling is about what you'd expect, with far more grip than drivers are likely to use but little incentive to explore the chassis limits.
As your doctor can probably tell you, however, exploring the limits of adhesion and hanging the tail out while executing rev-matched downshifts is not what a Mercedes SLK is all about. Instead, the SLK is a distillation of Mercedes' best-known qualities into a nimble, open-air machine for two -- a car with which to reward yourself, after a long day of looking people in the eye, or eyes.
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK350
2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350 Rear Left Side View
Base price: $55,675
Price as tested: $65,965
Standard Equipment:
3.5-liter V-6 engine
7-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles
4-wheel disc brakes with ABS and Brake Assist
Attention Assist driver-drowsiness monitor
Retractable hardtop
Power windows with express up and down
Power central locking with remote
Leather upholstery with sun-reflective coating
8-speaker audio system with CD, USB, HD radio, and Bluetooth audio streaming
Central controller with 5.8-inch display
3-spoke leather-wrapped, multi-function steering wheel with power adjustment for height and reach
Aluminum interior trim
8-way power seats with 4-way lumbar
Memory for seats, steering column, and exterior mirrors
Automatic climate control
Auto-dimming mirrors
Garage-door opener
18-inch wheels
Options on this vehicle:
Premium 1 package - $2590
- iPod/MP3 Media interface
- Airscarf neck-level heating system
- Sirius satellite radio
- Harman/Kardon premium sound system
- Heated seats
- Remote roof automation
Sport package - $2500
- Sport bodystyling
- 18-inch AMG 5-spoke wheels
- Ambient lighting in solar red
Multimedia package - $2150
- Comand system with hard-drive navigation
- 7-inch high-resolution LCD screen w/3D map views
- Voice control system
- 10GB music register
- 6-disc DVD changer
- Gracenote album information including cover art
- SD card slot
- Sirius traffic and weather
Lighting package - $1070
- Bi-xenon headlamps with active curve illumination
- Headlamp cleaning system
Lunar blue metallic - $720
Panorama roof, fixed tint - $500
Dual-zone climate control - $760
Key options not on vehicle:
Premium leather
Panorama roof with Magic Sky Control
Keyless ignition
Fuel economy:
20 / 29 mpg
3.5L V-6
Horsepower: 302 hp @ 6500 rpm
Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 3500-5200 rpm
Rear -wheel
7-speed automatic
Curb weight: 3397 lb
18-inch wheels
225/40R18 (front), 245/35R18 (rear) Continental ContiSportContact tires
Competitors: BMW Z4, Jaguar XK, Nissan 370Z, Porsche Boxster
2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350 Passengers Front Three Quarters With Top Down
The first piece of good news about Mercedes-Benz's third-generation SLK is that it no longer looks like the wimpy chick car it started life as fifteen years ago. Not that the first SLK wasn't a smash hit right out of the box; the entire production run for 1997 was sold out. The time was right for a compact, premium roadster. But the 2012 SLK finally looks like it bears the same noble genes that spawned the iconic 190SL of the 1950s and today's SL family.
2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350 Passengers Front Three Quarters With Top Down
Chief designer Gorden Wagener is succinct on the subject of the SLK's design: "Our sports car recipe is very simple: Long bonnet [hood]; a passenger compartment that is visually almost on top of the rear axle; and a short, snappy tail end." The SLK's newly aggressive road presence is dominated by a large three-pointed star leading the way from the middle of the wide upright radiator grille split by a horizontal chrome blade. It's the new Mercedes-Benz brand look, and it's a powerful one. It's also a particularly sleek one -- in all, design and aero tweaks to the SLK brought its coefficient of drag down from an already impressive 0.32 to 0.30.
A smaller version of that chrome blade highlights a vent tucked inside body creases on each front fender, leading your eye along the SLK's smooth flanks to new tail lamps. Most noticeable at night, the wide horizontal light clusters are made up completely of LEDs, and wrap subtly around each corner into the body sides. A thin strip of LEDs also runs above each headlamp, providing daytime running lights. LEDs not only flick on a fraction faster and last a lot longer than traditional lamps, they can be set to shine with varying intensity, according to function.
Grounding the macho look of the SLK are fairly huge 18-inch, five-spoke wheels shod with meaty 225/35 tires. Our test car had more serious Continental ContiSportContacts 225/40s on the front and 245/35s in back.
Given the test route laid out around Tenerife, the largest of Spain's Canary Islands, we were keen that the new SLK also behave better than that chick car of old. Mercedes loves the Canary Islands for early press drives. For one thing, year-round sunshine is virtually guaranteed. The surprising part is how wicked the roads are: from straight, smooth and fast, to twisty, lumpy, narrow, and scary. You have to be pretty confident in your dynamic expertise to invite wave after wave of international lead foots in over three weeks to thrash the whee out of your new car on such a demanding course. Not that Mercedes engineers suffer from a lack of confidence.
2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350 Front Drivers Side View
Their confidence was not misplaced. The 2012 SLK is a much more robust car, built on the newest C-class, so everything good about that chassis transfers to the SLK. The basic multilink independent suspension (with forged aluminum hub carriers) has two levels of sporting upgrades -- a lowered suspension with shorter springs and stiffer dampers, and the special order Dynamic Handling package which now allows electronically controlled automatic variable rate dampers with a button that allows you to switch between sport and comfort. Even the most sporting among us were scrambling for the comfort setting once we hit the volcanic interior of the island, where the narrow asphalt strip of road cutting across the national park's Llano de Ucanca had a chewed-up quality that had us nervously checking the third largest volcano in the world for signs of life. The change from sport to comfort was immediate and noticeable.
When the SLK350 hits the States this June, it will be powered the biggest of the C-Class engines -- the DOHC direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6, with 302 hp available at 6500 rpm. The hugely improved seven-speed 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission can be managed with steering wheel mounted paddles and the console mounted switch in Manual, but left to its own devices, it's super precise and quite quick in both Sport and the more leisurely ECO modes. Okay, it could be quicker.
The 201-hp, direct-injected turbocharged four-cylinder (which is such a delight in the new C-class) will arrive in the SLK250 "later," with a six-speed automatic transmission or the SLK350's seven-speed as an upgrade. The turbo four is about second slower from 0-60 mph, but it has the same 155 mph top speed with an estimated 23/31 EPA rating versus the V-6's 20/29 city-/highway mpg estimate. Still, the four-cylinder could be even more fun in the SLK than in the C-class. It's about 100 pounds lighter, and makes the SLK250 feel more agile, simpler, and easier to fling around these mountainous roads. A new flat-bottomed steering wheel was the perfect precision instrument with which to direct the flinging.
2012 Mercedes Benz SLK2500 Passengers Side Front Three Quarters View In Motion Top Down
The real cleverness of the SLK is its approach to top-down motoring. The first SLK was launched with a retractable hardtop -- the "vario roof," which it still sports today. The design is cleverly compact, folding so neatly on itself that it leaves a decent amount of trunk space. When the 2004 replacement came, M-B added the amazing "air scarf" feature -- vents in the headrests that blow warm air around your neck and head, keeping you so toasty with the top down that about 80% of SLKs leave the factory with that option.
In that fine tradition of roadster innovation, M-B has engineered three 2012 SLK top choices: the basic body-color painted vario roof, the optional retractable top with a new panorama glass roof, and the optional panorama glass with 'Magic Sky." With the touch of a button, the "Magic Sky" version of the glass roof switches between clear and opaque transparency. In either light or dark mode, the electrochromic glass blocks both UV and infrared, but dark mode not only shades the interior, it can keep components like armrests up to 18 degrees cooler. Magic indeed. (The SLK's leather interior is also treated to reflect the sun, reducing the temperature of the seats by more than eighteen degrees when it's parked in the sun.)
The top's frame is now magnesium, saving thirteen pounds, and improving the mechanism sped up its operation to twenty seconds (from twenty-five) and opened up a touch more trunk space (now 6.4 cubic feet with top down, and a golf bag-swallowing 10.1 cubic feet with the top up). One more clever new option is Airguide, transparent plastic shields that fit to each roll bar and pivot, allowing personalized adjustment to block cabin turbulence.
There's never been an excess of room inside the SLK, and the new model is no different. A 6'2" passenger with a 34-inch inseam just fit with his back against the wall, trading seatback rake for precious legroom. But the seats are perfectly comfortable and supportive, with high side bolsters, and active safety headrests to reduce whiplash risk in a rear collision. New head bags are incorporated in the doors and thorax bags in the upper seatbacks to protect driver and passenger in side collisions, and Attention Assist monitors drowsy driving behavior, sending a vibration through the wheel when a dotted lane marker is crossed.
2012 Mercedes Benz SLK2500 Rear View
Other new SLK options include the Parktronic with parking guidance, Keyless-Go, COMAND with a 7-inch color display that replaces the standard model's new 5.8-inch color display, red ambient lightning during exit and entry, and active bi-xenon headlamps with curve illumination. Most options are bundled into a variety of packages, as usual.
A rich variety of exterior colors are available. The most subliminally wicked color -- one which drew everyone who saw it -- was called "designo magno glacier grey," a striking matte grey paint that is part of the very exotic and optional "designo" line. Inside, the designo titanium grey/black leather sported matte-finish silver leather seat and door trim, which was a tad more disco than evil.
Prices on both SLK350 and SLK250 have yet to be revealed. Perhaps at that time, Mercedes-Benz will also confirm an AMG version of SLK to follow, although the hints were broad enough to assume the obvious.
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
Mercedes has taken great strides to refine the luxury roadster experience with the SLK, regardless of whether you're driving with the top up or down. The retractable hard top can be had three different ways: as the standard metal roof; as a panoramic glass roof; or as the Magic Sky Control roof, which features a glass panel with adjustable opacity. The optional Airguide uses Plexiglas pieces that rotate out from behind the seats to calm cabin turbulence when the top is open. Other open-air comfort options include sun-reflecting leather and Airscarf, which blows warm air onto the necks of the driver and the passenger. It's a stretch to call the SLK a sports car, but it is definitely sporty, and many of the editors of this magazine have just as much respect for this car as they do for the BMW Z4. All SLK models use variable-ratio steering, called Direct Steer, that quickens during aggressive driving. While these systems have traditionally felt unnatural and unpredictable, Mercedes has executed it nearly to perfection in the SLK. The SLK350's direct-injected V-6 is quick and powerful and has a raspy growl, and its seven-speed automatic delivers silky-smooth upshifts. For those interested in better fuel economy, the SLK250 uses a turbocharged four-cylinder paired with either a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic and is expected to achieve an EPA rating of 23/31 mpg. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the normally aspirated V-8 of the AMG car will power the SLK to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
2012 Mercedes Benz SLK350 Front Three Quarters
Auto writers are forever criticizing the SLK because it's not really a sports car. I don't know why it never dawns on them that the SLK isn't trying to be a sports car. As a baby Benz convertible, the SLK is supposed to be posh, flashy, comfortable, and quick--a top-down, feel-good machine. Boxster-like driver involvement and Miata-like tossability are not a part of the program.

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK350

Top  10 400 Mpg
Sports car buyers and fuel economy-minded car buyers are generally not the same people, but it's no secret that there are plenty of cars on the market that deliver lots of power and reasonable fuel economy at the same time. We decided not to focus on the typical targets, many of whom return 30 mpg thanks to four-cylinder engines and compact footprints, and look at the big, muscular stuff. The following list is the top 10 greenest sports cars (coupes and convertibles, specifically) with more than 400 horsepower underhood.
2012 Mercedes Benz SLK250 Front Left View 2
I drove my first-generation Mazda Miata for about 850 miles the three days immediately preceding my time in the SLK250 and also spent some time behind the wheel of an SLK55 AMG on a closed course a few days before that. There have been a lot of top-down miles in my life recently.

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK250

2012 Mercedes Benz SLK55 AMG Ducati Concept Front View With Bike
Behold the latest product of the unusual marketing partnership between Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division and sportbike manufacturer Ducati: a new 2012 SLK 55 AMG painted a retina-searing shade of yellow for the 2011 Bologna Motor Show.

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2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Specifications

Quick Glance:
1.8L I4Engine
Fuel economy City:
23 MPG
Fuel economy Highway:
31 MPG
201 hp @ 5500rpm
229 ft lb of torque @ 2000rpm
  • Air Conditioning
  • Power Windows
  • Power Locks
  • Power Seats
  • Steering Wheel Tilt
  • Cruise Control
  • Sunroof (optional)
  • ABS
  • Stabilizer Front
  • Stabilizer RearABS
  • Electronic Traction Control
  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Locking Differential (optional)
  • Limited Slip Differential (optional)
  • Airbag Driver
  • Airbag Passenger
  • Airbag Side Front
  • Airbag Side Rear (optional)
  • Radio
  • CD Player
  • CD Changer (optional)
  • DVD (optional)
  • Navigation (optional)
50,000 miles / 48 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
50,000 miles / 48 months
Unlimited miles / 999 months
NHTSA Rating Front Driver
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Passenger
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Front Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rear Side
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Overall
Not Rated
NHTSA Rating Rollover
Not Rated
IIHS Front Moderate Overlap
IIHS Overall Side Crash
IIHS Best Pick
IIHS Rear Crash
IIHS Roof Strength

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5-Year Total Cost to Own For The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class

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Five Year Cost of Ownership: $45,347 What's This?
Value Rating: Below Average