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By Jim McCraw

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On Sale: June 2011
Expected Pricing: Starting at $54,800

What started out back in 1996 as a sporty, lightweight, short-wheelbase Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster has morphed into something really sporty and beautiful. The SLK was the first Mercedes-Benz roadster ever built with a folding steel top. The car was facelifted and updated for the 2005 model year, quite a long stretch for a sporty car, then given a major facelift and upgrade again in 2007, each time gaining more style, more length, more room and more power.


For 2012, there is an all-new SLK that looks very, very much like the
SLS gullwing coupe as a roadster, with very similar front and rear
designs, and fender vents.

The all-new 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK is by far the sportiest, best-looking
SLK ever, a long way from the stubby, underpowered roadster of 1997.
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,
providing more trunk room than ever. With the top up it’s a quiet,
weather-tight coupe. Press a button and in just 20 seconds you’re ready
for top-down motoring.

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The 2012 SLK was revealed at the New York International Auto Show in April 2011.

Other than the ultra-sporty design, the body carries a Mercedes-Benz
innovation, an option called Magic Sky Control, which is a panoramic
glass roof insert that can be lightened or darkened electronically. The
new body is distinguished by its headrest assemblies, with polished
alloy covers and ventilated centers for air flow.

The entire interior has been updated and upgraded with a great deal more
brushed metal on the doors, instrument panel, air vents, center
console, new instrument graphics, and a very sporty new steering wheel
with five-way controller buttons and paddle shifters.

The 2012 SLK 250 will come with a 201-horsepower 1.8-liter four-valve
turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a choice of 6-speed automatic or
7-speed automatic.

The 2012 SLK350 will come with a 302-horsepower direct-injection four-valve V6 and the 7-speed automatic with paddle shifters.

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Chassis systems on the 2012 Mercedes SLK include four-wheel anti-lock
brakes with Electronic Brake-force Distribution, Brake Assist, traction
control, yaw control, a new variable-ratio power steering system with an
electro-hydraulic pump that saves fuel, and a ride height that’s
lowered almost an inch compared to the previous model, so that it looks
better on the road and sticks better in the corners.

New standard equipment for the SLK roadster will include Attention
Assist, which can detect a drowsy driver and warn the driver with light
and audio signals to pull over and rest, a new 5.8-inch color display
unit with Bluetooth audio streaming, an electronic parking brake, full
LED taillights, head-protection air bags mounted in the door, LED
daytime running lamps, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

New options will include Solar Red ambient lighting in the cockpit, an
updated and upgraded Comand system with a 7-inch color display and
central controller, bi-xenon headlamps with cornering illumination,
Keyless Go, Parktronic parking guidance, a Dynamic Handling package with
automatic continuous damping control, a panorama glass roof replacing
the folding all-steel roof, a panorama glass roof with the
aforementioned Magic Sky Control system, the Airguide wind-stop system
for top-down running, the AirScarf neck-level heating system, and an
analog clock on the dashboard. For two-up touring, there’s the optional
Harman/Kardon 400-watt, ten-speaker surround-sound audio system with
Bluetooth audio and telephone.

We’re expecting the new SLK roadster in June 2011. Suggested retail
pricing for the 2012 SLK350 will start at $54,800 plus $875 destination
and delivery charge, according to Mercedes-Benz USA. For more information, go to www.mbusa.com/.

(Click here to join the SLK conversation at MBWorld’s Forum!)

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