The very first new-generation 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK coupe/roadsters are arriving in the U.S. The 2012 SLK represents the third generation of a sports car that rocked the automotive world when it unveiled the first automatic retractable hardtop in modern times. The new SLK boasts a wide SLS AMG-inspired front grille with a long hood as well as relatively wide doors and a short rear section. The SLK convertible is available in U.S. showrooms this month with a suggested retail price starting at $54,800 (excluding D&D).
The standard convertible roof panel is made of body-color polycarbonate, and an optional Panorama Roof features a see-through panel. Also optionally available is a MAGIC SKY CONTROL roof, in which the tinting of the panel can be changed by the occupants, using the same electrochromic technology as automatic dimming mirrors. Sandwiched between two layers of glass, a chemical film called a matrix polymer holds oblong nano particles that line up uniformly when electrical current is applied, allowing light to pass through. When the electrical current is turned off (via a button above the rearview mirror), the nano particles disperse randomly, reducing light and tinting the roof panel.
The 2012 SLK line debuts with the SLK350 model, powered by a new 3.5-liter V6 engine that features direct injection and multi-spark ignition. With even more power and better fuel economy than its predecessor, the new SLK engine generates 302 horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque. Early next year the SLK250 will join the line-up featuring a new turbocharged 1.8- liter direct injection four-cylinder engine that produces 201 hp and 229 lb.-ft. of torque.
The 2012 SLK line features a new transmission with a more advanced torque converter lockup clutch that provides even better fuel mileage, more responsive driving, quieter operation and increased durability. The new transmission is also designed to work best with a new type of low-viscosity ATF transmission fluid - colored blue instead of the usual red. Together with new planetary gears, bearings and internal seals, the "FE-ATF" fluid provides less friction and improved fuel mileage.
The SLK comes standard with the innovative "ATTENTION ASSIST" system, which couples a steering movement sensor with intelligent software that can identify the erratic steering corrections drivers make as they begin to get drowsy. When the system senses drowsiness, a warning message appears in the instrument cluster, and the driver is also alerted by a display that says, "Time for a rest!" Sophisticated enough to disregard sporty driving, the system works between 50 and 100 mph. Elegant in its simplicity, ATTENTION ASSIST essentially adds new computer software to existing sensors.
Spearheading a trend that's still changing the auto industry, the latest SLK is best known for its distinctive retractable hardtop. With the top up, it's a quiet, weather-tight coupe - push a button, and about 20 seconds later, the car is topless. Thanks to its pivoting rear window, the folded roof of the SLK takes up relatively little trunk space. Like the retractable hardtop of the larger SL model, the rear window of the SLK pivots to match the curvature of the top as it's being lowered.
An optional AIRSCARF system can extend the open-air driving season into the cooler months. Built into the seatbacks of the SLK, the neck-level heating system blows warm air from the driver and passenger-seat head restraints, allowing occupants to cruise comfortably with the retractable hardtop open in cooler weather. AIRSCARF even compensates automatically for changes in vehicle speed.
A standard fabric air deflector mounts to the SLK roll bars, helping to reduce air buffeting. Going a step further, an optional AIRGUIDE wind deflector mounts to the back of the roll bars. Consisting of two Plexiglas panels, the wind deflectors can be adjusted independently by the driver and front passenger.