2012 Mercedes SLK350 Review [Video]

More than the sum of its upgrades

2012 Mercedes SLK350 Review [Video]

In the past we might have compared the SLK to that cute girl next door, or perhaps even a confident woman in a short suit skirt and naughty secretary glasses. So weren’t we shocked when Mercedes unveiled the all-new 2012 SLK. To carry on the metaphor, the internal monolog most certainly sounded like this: “Whoa… it’s a dude.”

FAST FACTS

1. For 2012 the 3.5L V6 engine gains direct-injection. The result is a minimal power increase to 302 hp while fuel economy jumps more significantly to 20/29 mpg.

2. A gimmicky but also very cool Magic Sky Control glass roof can turn from clear to opaque at the push of a button.

3. Along with the SLK350, Mercedes offers a 415-hp SLK55 AMG model as well as a 201-hp turbocharged 4-cylinder SLK250.

4. Pricing for the SLK350 starts at $55,675.

Perhaps “dude” isn’t quite the right word. The chiseled features of the SLK aren’t at all the somewhat corny romantic comedy type. Rather, they’re the square-jawed, five-o’clock shadow in a Hugo Boss suit type. Not a clear enough picture? Just think about the last cologne commercial you saw. Yea, it looks like that guy.

But handsome looks will only get you so far and on further inspection the SLK doesn’t seem to bring much to the table. Thankfully, a drive in the SLK350 reveals much more than a spec sheet can tell you.

LITTLE IMPROVEMENTS

Unlike the somewhat drastic change that BMW made with the Z4, the SLK hasn’t grown much. It’s 2-inches longer than the old car, with a minutely stretched wheelbase and an extra inch side to side. There’s little new under the hood as well. Sure, the 3.5-liter V6 has gained direct-injection, and while that makes for a more significant jump in power on other Mercs (like the C350), horsepower is only up two ponies to 302 and torque rises just 8 lb-ft for a total of 273. The result is a 0-60 time of 5.4 seconds, matching the outgoing model – certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

The more significant change comes in terms of fuel economy with a 20-mpg city rating and a 29-mpg highway rating, an improvement of two and four units respectively. One might argue that fuel economy doesn’t really matter on a vehicle like this, but we’d beg to differ. Thanks in part to its retractable hard top and its uniquely Mercedes driving characteristics, this is just one more way in which the SLK has become an even better daily driver.

MORE THAN JUST AN OCCASIONAL USE CAR

Not convinced? Then take the SLK’s cargo space. Even with the top down there’s a useable 6.5 cubic feet of cargo space – enough to fit an overnight bag on your way to the airport for a quick business trip. Plus, with the top up, the trunk can hold 10 cu-ft., which proved enough space to not only hold a few bags of groceries, we even managed one of those massive boxes of diapers. Taking that functionality into account, if you don’t need pretend rear seats, the SLK is as livable, or perhaps even more so, than a lot of luxury convertibles, like the 3 Series, Lexus IS or Infiniti G.

2012 Mercedes SLK350 Engine

Mercedes continues to offer just one transmission with the SLK, a 7-speed automatic, which comes with three different drive modes: efficiency, sport and manual. Continuously improved, the transmission’s Sport mode swaps gears effectively and is preferable to hitting the paddles yourself. One reason for this is that it’s been engineered to drop as many as four gears at once, to make sure you get the acceleration you ask for when the pedal is pushed. Mercedes claims the Eco mode (the car’s default setting) will deliver an up to 7 percent fuel economy improvement.

FUN FACTOR IS MUCH IMPROVED

2012 Mercedes SLK350

Those who prefer the Sport transmission setting will also want to upgrade to the Dynamic Handling Package ($990), which includes an electronic differential that reduces wheel spin on the inside wheel in a corner, as well as a continuously adjustable damping suspension with two driver-selectable modes.

An optional Sport Package ($2,500) then seems like a must, if not for the AMG aerodynamic kit and red accent lighting inside (very cool), then for the light weight 18-inch five-spoke AMG forged alloy wheels. So equipped, the car has all the road presence of its big brother the SL. Adding a further level of individualization on our test car was a Diamond White Metallic white paint ($1,500).

2012 Mercedes SLK350

While the previous SLK was a fine-enough sports car, this new model makes no apologies, its driving characteristics as much improved as its looks. With the Z4 having become more of a grand-tourer and the Merc gaining a new sporting edge, the line between the two is now blurred considerably.

The electronic differential really helps the car rotate around corners, though the steering still feels a bit over-boosted. Acceleration is rapid and the V6 makes a thoroughly enjoyable sound. The brakes are much like the steering, being loose initially and perhaps too firm at the bottom.

GIMMICKS AND GIZMOS

Inside is where you’ll find much of what’s new about the 2012 SLK, including the optional Panorama Roof ($500) or Magic Sky Control roof. ($2,500) The latter is nice but offers little shade, and if you’re weekly forecast calls for sun most of the time, it might not be the best choice. As for “Magic Sky Control”, it’s another glass roof, but it can transition to a heavily tinted surface with the touch of a button. They don’t call it magic for nothing.

2012 Mercedes SLK350

Regardless of which top you choose, all hide away in an impressive series of folding parts that will wow bystanders for a solid 20 seconds. The time it takes to open or close a convertible roof always seems like a useless statistic, but get caught in a sudden downpour and the quicker the better.

Top down, you can appreciate the Airscarf system (a part of the $2,590 Premium Package 1), which blows hot or cool air onto the neck through vents in the headrest. Also included are heated seats, an iPod interface XM Satellite radio and an impressive harmon/kardon audio system. Notably absent, however, are cooled or vented seats.

2012 Mercedes SLK350

The cabin itself is premium, though missing any wow factor. The actual display of the Comand system (especially some of the radio screens) looks dated already and it’s disappointing that a keyless access system is a $650 upgrade and not standard. This is a Mercedes-Benz after all. Thankfully, a wood grain interior trim is optional and aluminum comes standard – there’s nothing worse than being forced to upgrade just because the factory wood looks so dated and cheap.

Another notable feature for 2012 comes in the safety department with the addition of Attention Assist as standard, which will notify the driver with a visual warning on the dash if it detects jerky steering corrections, indicating you’re starting to doze off.

Pricing for the SLK350 starts at $55,675. As tested, our model included a long list of options, totaling roughly $11,000 bringing the price to $66,650 – and that’s without the pricey Magic Sky Control roof.

A MERCEDES WITH A STICK SHIFT?

Currently the SLK350 and 415-hp SLK55 AMG model are on offer, although Mercedes is set to offer an SLK250 model soon, with points that appeal to both the budget conscious and the driving enthusiast. A new turbocharged 4-cylinder engine generates 201-hp and 229 lb-ft of torque, and despite the big drop in power is just one second off to 60 mph. Fuel economy will increase further, delivering a 23/31 mpg rating while the real not to driver’s everywhere is a rare-to-Mercedes 6-speed manual transmission. Pricing for this model has yet to be released, but if the savings is significant, it might be a hard model to turn down, especially considering the

2012 Mercedes SLK350

THE VERDICT

Long before hardtop convertibles became as mainstream as they currently are, Mercedes offered the SLK, a car that continues to deliver incredible every-day practicality for a luxury roadster. With added refinement and much improved fuel economy, the SLK350 has moved further from being a weekend toy to becoming a feasible only car. At the same time, rather than lose some of the fun factor as it has matured, it now delivers a heightened driving experience. With the latest model, Mercedes is further proving that a luxury sports can in fact be your only car.

Related Reading
2010 BMW Z4 sDrive30i Review
2009 BMW Z4 sDrive35i Review
2009 Audi TT-S Review
2009 Porsche Boxster S Review
2010 Audi S5 Review

  • Guest

    Should have had the option of a standard shift.

  • Owlmatty

    says “latter” instead of “former”… confusing.

    0/0 would not bang… awesome car tho! hooray!

« Back
SWEEPSTAKES – OFFICIAL RULES, TERMS AND CONDITIONS

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.

1. NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN THIS SWEEPSTAKES. AGE/RESIDENCY RESTRICTIONS, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.

2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked