Ah, spring is in the air and for many our thoughts are turned towards taking short (or long) weekend getaways as we welcome back warmer weather, higher pollen counts (and fuel prices) – and top-down driving.
Here in the sunbelt states we are already enjoying our first sunburn of the season but for those of you not fortunate enough to be shedding woolen attire yet I invite you to “cheat” convertible season a bit in the new Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster.
The 2012 model year is the third-generation of the cute little hard-top convertible that I affectionately refer to as a “chick’s car.” Sure, Mercedes makes a “manly” AMG version with plenty of horsepower but for the most part I feel they have really hit the mark with this latest model for the female driver.
First and foremost has to be the unique Neckscarf feature that extends the driving season by delivering soothing, warm air to the nape of the neck as if one were wrapped in their (read: her) favorite scarf. My wife loves this feature and except for the harshest summer days here in the south would probably never shut it off.
To help maintain the “do,” Mercedes offers the AIRGUIDE wind deflector that mounts to the back of the rollbars to really reduce air buffeting during topdown driving.
Mercedes-Benz reinvented the retractable hardtop roof for modern times when it launched the first SLK and now that roof has gone completely high-tech. With the new Magic Sky Control feature, the optional panorama roof panel of the overhead section is made dimmable by the occupants in a manner similar to that of automatic dimming rearview mirrors.
A chemical film is sandwiched between two layers of glass and an electrical current is applied it allows light to pass through. When switched off the panel is tinted and reduces light.
Our tester was the SLK350 model which boasts the automaker’s latest direct-injected 3.5-liter V-6 engine generating 302 horses and 273 lb. ft. of torque. Behind the new engine is a new seven-speed automatic gearbox with a more advanced torque converter said to provide better fuel economy and increased durability and uses a new type of low-viscosity ATF fluid that is blue in color instead of the usual red.
The new SLK also comes with a unique Attention Assist system that through a steering movement sensor monitors driver’s erratic steering corrections as would occur when the drive is drowsy and via digital display suggests the driver takes a rest.
This third-gen SLK features all-new exterior styling and is the most aggressive to date for the model line with inspiration drawn from its SLS sibling.
The new model is bathed in not only safety technology but all of the latest comfort and convenience features as well. It has about as many airbags as it does speakers for the great audio system and our tester came with a mild AMG sport styling package as well.
The new SLK is a bit of a niche vehicle as it probably isn’t the best choice for a trip to the home center but for a springtime getaway (with limited luggage) it serves very well.
Pricing on our tester began at $54,800 and when all was said and done the final sticker came to just over 65 grand. Fuel economy is rated at 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with the new V-6.
Spring is in the air so even if Mother Nature has not warmed things up for you the new 2012 SLK from Mercedes-Benz can.