CAR Online has caught next year's new 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG, dubbed R172, testing near the Nurburgring. This is the range-topping, high-performance version of the seminal roadster with the folding hard top. Sun-lovers rejoice: this one will be available with an optional panoramic glass roof section!
According to our sources, every body panel on the next SLK is new, but the character appears to stay faithful to today's design. Which you can sort of tell from the familiar silhouette.
New details such as air vents in the front side panels, bigger twin headlamps with LED driving lights, a full width front air intake which forms a significant part of the front bumper and flared wheel arches distinguish the new SLK. It will also be slightly longer and higher than its predecessor.
Is there anything new inside the 2011 SLK?
Yes. The tall and upright facia has been inspired by Merc's halo car – the SLS's dashboard. Other changes include a larger colour moniter, four chromed air vents, the Comand controller moving now next to the gear selector and the round instruments gain round water temperature and fuel gauges.
This is the new SLK 55 AMG, you say?
The current SLK 55 AMG will be upgraded to produce 422bhp instead of the current 360bhp, taking it into Porsche 911 waters. It uses the 5.5-litre V8 to drive the rear wheels.
Sounds good. What about more humble SLKs?
For the first time ever, the SLK will come with a diesel engine: the 250 CDI will be powered by a 204bhp 2.2-litre four-cylinder. Also on offer when the car goes on sale in summer 2011 will be the familiar 184bhp SLK 200 Kompresser and a 204bhp SLK 250.
The 300 is being dropped, but the six-pot SLK of choice will be a 306bhp SLK 350, powered by the familiar 3.5-litre V6.
When can I see the new SLK?
Public debut is at Geneva in March 2011 with sales starting just in time for the sunny season later on next summer.