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Mercedes SLK (2011): scooped in Scandinavia

Published: 21 January 2010

This is the new Mercedes SLK, caught cold-weather testing in Scandinavia. Like the current SLK, the next-gen car will feature a two-piece folding metal roof, but it will also receive all of Mercedes' latest safety gadgets and gizmos, as well as eco-friendly BlueEfficiency tech.

Tell me more about the new Mercedes SLK.

For many an SLK customer looks are key, so Merc will massage the looks of the current car. Out goes the beaky, F1-inspired nose and in comes a bolder grille and larger geometric headlights. There’ll be low-mounted LED daytime running lights as well, along with lozenge-shaped LED rear lights.

The black tape along the flanks of the prototype scooped in our pictures hides lateral air vents, and despite growing in size (to comply with new pedestrian protection legislation and offer extra boot space) the new SLK should be around 100kg lighter than today’s car. Underpinning the SLK will be C-class parts, and Merc is concentrating on making the car a sharper drive, while still retaining its comfortable cruising ability. The two-piece folding metal roof remains, as does the two-seat layout.

What about the SLK’s powerplants?

Under the bigger bonnet will be a range of petrol and – yes – diesel engines. The SLK range starts with a turbocharged 1.8-litre four with 201bhp, progressing up to a 3.5-litre V6 with 288bhp, and topped by a 496bhp 6.2-litre AMG model. Oil-burning fans only get one option, a 201bhp twin-turbo 2.1-litre four-pot.

But with Merc working flat out on its next generation of engines, 12 months after launch the SLK line-up will look quite different. The entry level lump will become a direct-injection 2.0-litre with 235bhp, a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 will offer 302bhp or 349bhp, and the AMG engine will become a smaller capacity blown V8. The diesel engine will also be boosted to 222bhp in 2012.

A revised six-speed manual ‘box will be offered – but only on the diesel and low-power petrol engines – while all other motors will be drive the SLK’s rear wheels via a seven-speed automatic. Bar the mad AMG model, all cars will also feature Merc’s BlueEfficiency tech with energy saving solutions like low-rolling resistance tyres. Stop/start tech will become available during the SLK’s lifecycle, and there are also rumours of a plug-in 350 CGI model appearing in 2013. 

What else?

Like the new E-class Cabriolet, the next-gen SLK will feature a revised AIRSCARF system. Now the neck-level heaters embedded in the seats come with pivoting outlet nozzles, so warm air can be directed up or down depending on how tall or short you are. Merc’s new AIRCAP function is also expected – on the drop-top E-class a wind deflector rises six inches out of the windscreen rail to help cut down the draught.

There will be loads of safety tech too, including Merc’s Drowsiness Detection system which measures steering wheel inputs and offers alerts to stop you falling asleep at the wheel.

The new SLK will go on sale in the UK in 18 months time, so expect a motor show unveiling at Detroit or Geneva in early 2011.

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By Ben Pulman

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

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