The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class first debuted in 1996 as a 1997 model to take on the BMW Z3 and Porsche Boxster. The premium sports roadster segment has since grown with the Audi and Volvo also attracting picky buyers with the TT and C70, respectively.
Body style: convertible
Engines: 1.8-liter inline-4 (early 2012), 3.5-liter V-6, 5.5-liter V-8 (2012)
Transmissions: six-speed manual, seven-speed automatic
Models: Mercedes-Benz SLK250, Mercedes-Benz SLK350 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG
The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is all-new for the 2012 model year, taking styling cues from the 1955 Mercedes-Benz 190SL. The hardtop convertible is slightly larger and lower to last year's model, and gets a facelift, with a new grille, headlights, and fog light unit, the redesign giving the entire vehicle a more masculine appearance. Inside, premium leather and soft plastics wrap driver and passenger in luxury with aluminum and wood insert available. For model year 2012, Mercedes will first roll out the SLK350, with is powered by a new 3.5-liter V-6 engine mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. In 2012, a new base model, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK250, will go on sale. The Mercedes-Benz SLK250 will be powered by a turbocharged 1.8-liter inline-4. The lineup will then be completed by the Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG which comes equipped with a 5.5-liter V-8.
The Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is all-new for 2012 and sports new hood, grille, headlights and fog light housing. The hardtop convertible is slightly longer and wider than the prior model, and lower to the ground giving it a more hunkered down look.
Revamped for 2012, the Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class interior is typical Mercedes with plenty of premium leather for the seats, soft plastics at touch points (arms, elbow, etc.) and real aluminum and wood inserts. We found the instrument cluster easy to read and the infotainment system within reach. Mercedes-Benz COMAND system, which replaces most buttons and switches for the climate control and entertainment unit, keeps the center stack relatively button-free, but also requires a steep learning curve.
Performance & Handling
The biggest change in the all-new 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class is the steering, which is just tight enough to make the convertible more enjoyable to toss around road curves at high speed than the previous generation. The suspension, however, isn't harsh, and continues to absorb road imperfections like bumps, cracks, and potholes. The new engines are raspier than prior models. The seven-speed automatic boosts fuel economy but negatively affects response time when shifting gears.
The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class, like the entire Mercedes lineup, come chockfull of active and passive safety equipment. Front driver and passenger airbags, driver-side knee airbag, and head-thorax side-impact airbags are standard. Anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability control (ESC), and traction control are also standard. A rollover bar pops up and out in the event of a rollover (or if the driver wants it out) and a tire pressure monitoring system comes with all models.
EPA Fuel Economy
Mercedes-Benz SLK350: 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway
Truck space (for a convertible)
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If You Like This Vehicle
- BMW Z4
- Porsche Boxster
- Audi TT
- Volvo C70