2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK revealed ahead of Geneva

Trevor Hofmann - CAP staff
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Formula 1 has long been a test arena for all things automotive, and the big players who not only race on Sunday but sell their brands on Monday have often benefited from applying state-of-the-art technologies to their road cars. But sometimes what works on the track doesn't translate so well to the street. Styling is high on the list.

Pick a least favourite Ferrari, from a design perspective, and the F1-inspired Enzo will shoot to the top of the list amongst purists. And what about Mercedes-Benz, also a serious contender in motorsport's pinnacle series? Many will argue that the outgoing SLK, with its Eddie Jordan-sized schnoz, is the least appealing sports car to wear the three-pointed star in decades (other than the SLR McLaren that partially inspired it), and these critics will be glad to see that its replacement has been updated with a more classic M-B grille.

Introduced this week in Stuttgart, the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK looks positively conventional, albeit in a very good way. It pulls styling cues from its larger SL sibling, as well as the company's new flagship SLS AMG sports coupe, the latter especially apparent in its protruding grille. Mercedes has integrated engine vents to the side fenders too, a nice retro touch that's also shared with the SLS. Longer and wider than the car it replaces, the new model appears more solidly grounded while its svelte new body is also extremely streamlined resulting in a drag coefficient (Cd) of just 0.30 compared to 0.32 for the current SLK.

Mercedes has upgraded its Vario-roof retractable hardtop with a new "Magic Sky Control" centre panel that can be set to either let the sunshine in or mostly block it via an LCD-type technology. Click an overhead switch to "clear" mode and the sun's measured intensity decreases from approximately 1,050 watts to 200, whereas a flick of the switch in the opposite direction will engage "opaque" mode and reverse the process. The transition from mode to mode is almost immediate.

Mercedes-Benz will bring the new SLK to market with its 302-horsepower 3.5-litre V6, while a more fuel-efficient variant will appear later carrying a turbocharged and direct injected 1.8-litre four-cylinder good for 201-horsepower. Of course, Mercedes will follow up the two light and bantamweight engine offerings with the heavyweight SLK55 AMG, but details have yet to been announced.

The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK will debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Roadster, Mercedes-Benz, 2012, SLK, $50,000 - $74,999,

Organizations: Mercedes-Benz

Geographic location: Geneva

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