ďSportlich, Leich, Kompakt.Ē If you understand the German language, you would know what those three words stand for in English. As for those who do not, it stands for Sporty, Lightweight and Compact. These three words were adopted by Mercedes Benz for its hardtop convertible which was first released back in 1996.
The abovementioned three words used by Mercedes Benz did not really represent the car. Sporty; yes it looks sporty but not that powerful. Light; almost 1400kg for the first model and it keeps increasing for every new one, just simply not in the lightweight category. Compact; pretty much but its size keeps increasing every time a new model is released.
But judging from the number of times I have seen the car on the road, I guess people generally do not really mind if the sporty, light and compact tag does not fully represent the car. Anyway, the new Mercedes Benz SLK 350 delivers a package that combines both reasonable power and aesthetics.
The key styling feature of the new SLK is the large Mercedes logo that adorns the rounded trapezoidal front grille. The front grille displays Mercedes Benzís latest design values that are featured on all new models. The carís low stance gives it a menacing but still classy look if you were to view it from the front directly, a little like the SLS front end.
As we move rearwards, the car has minimal surface detail except for the accentuated metal strip situated at the front fenders. The carís rear bumper bulges out a little in the middle and the car gets rectangular dual tipped exhausts. The rear end of the car looks a little simple and it is the carís front fascia that commands the best view.
The 2012 SLK 350 gets an all new engine. The 3.5 litre, 60 degree direct injection V6 engine generates around 302bhp at 6500rpm and a torque of 370Nm at 3500rpm. And according to the automaker, it enables the car to reach a 0-100km/h timing of 5.4 seconds. The engine is mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission and the driver is able to perform some slick shifting with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.
Mercedes Benz has incorporated its Direct Steer system into the SLK 350. The system automatically varies the steering ratio based on how much you turn the steering wheel, making low-speed manoeuvring an easy task while still offering direct steering feedback and good road feel at higher speeds.
The car gets 18 inch wheels and a single piston sliding calliper brake system for both front and rear. These would be sufficient for daily drives and some spirited driving moments but it would not be enough if anyone is taking it to the track.
The interior gets a healthy amount of leather. Almost every inch is wrapped in it. Parts which are not wrapped in leather are either finished in aluminium or wood. The wooden parts can be replaced with an aluminium trim for a more modern look. There is also an option to replace the sporty flat bottom steering wheel with a full leather one. On the centre console there is a seven inch LCD monitor which is mainly for entertainment and navigation purposes. The automakerís integrated wheel shaped controller (located just behind the gear stick) controls the in-dash screen functions and it is not touch sensitive.
The entertainment and auto climate controls situated under the LCD screen looks a little cluttered and it may distract the driverís attention if he/she wishes to press something there. And that is probably the reason why Mercedes has included control buttons on the steering wheel so that the drivers can keep their eyes on the road while lowering the stereo volume for instance. The roof control button is located in the compartment just behind the wheel shaped controller.
The Mercedes Benz SLK has changed much over the years. But it is still not that powerful and its size and weight keeps growing. Donít get me wrong, it still offers decent performance and it looks really good. It is just that the SLK 350 is suitable for those relaxing open-top drives and if you are looking for a performance open-top ride, then it is best to look elsewhere
Photo credit: Net Car Show
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