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Mercedes SLK (2011): new roadster revealed

Published: 13 January 2011

This is the new Mercedes SLK, the third-generation version of Merc’s folding metal roof-equipped roadster. Rather than forcing the new Mercedes SLK to share the limelight with the facelifted C-class at the 2011 Detroit motor show, Merc has revealed the all-new SLK a few days after this year’s NAIAS started.

Tell me all about the new Mercedes SLK please

Let’s start with the looks, and this latest SLK has adopted the latest Mercedes DNA from the CLS and SLS. The SLS has influenced the interior design, and the SLK adopts the four circular air vents and horizontal spar across the dash from the company’s supercar. To reduce the kilo count and improve the weight distribution, the bonnet and front wings are made from aluminium.

The folding metal roof remains a two-piece affair, but those that wish to see the sun in the sky without the wind in their hair can spec the new Magic Sky Control panel. Tick the requisite box and the panel in the roof flicks from opaque to transparent in seconds. And in you do lower the metal hood then there is a new Airguide wind deflector, with plastic discs set behind the roll bars that rotate into place.

What about the engines in the new Mercedes SLK?

There is a choice of three petrol engines from launch, which all feature stop/start systems and direct-injection technology. Both the entry-level SLK 200 and the mid-range SLK 250 are powered by a 1.8-litre four-pot, with the former offered in 181bhp/7.0sec 0-62mph/147mph/46.3mpg guise, and the latter coming with 201bhp/6.6sec 0-62mph/150mph/45.5mpg. Until an AMG variant arrives, the range-topper is Merc’s latest generation 3.5-litre V6, good for 302bhp/5.6sec 0-62mph/155mph/39.7mpg – and that last figure means the new SLK 350 is 25% more economical than before.

Both the V6 and the higher-power four-cylinder engine come with Mercedes’ seven-speed 7G-Tronic auto as standard, while the SLK 200 comes with a six-speed manual as standard but can be optioned with the automatic ‘box.

Anything else I should know?

Keen drivers can pick Merc’s sports suspension option, and the keenest can spec the Dynamic Handling pack which adds adjustable dampers, quicker steering and the new Torque Vectoring Brakes system, which individually brakes the inside rear wheel in a corner to aid agility.

UK sales start in June 2011, and prices and full specifications will be announced in the near future.

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By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

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