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|Spied: 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK 350|
|Written by Rich Truesdell|
|Friday, 16 July 2010 13:19|
It was a good day's hunting when we caught the next Mercedes-Benz SLK in the wild
There have been extensive and numerous sightings of the upcoming 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK as the engineers finalize the package, pealing back the camo in anticipation of its expected unveiling next March in Geneva. This morning Car magazine in the UK posted shots of the the twin turbo SLK55, the AMG version, testing at the Nürburgring while yesterday in California I got up close and personal with what I believe to be the top non-AMG version, the SLK 350 (although it might get a different designation if there are turbo and non-turbo models using the 3.5-liter V6). Judging by the 17-inch wheels on this version--I encountered three different SLKs yesterday--it is most likely powered by the expected turbocharged version of the 3.5-liter V6 with around 350 horsepower, almost as much as the outgoing AMG version. Note the side-view mirrors and the deeply scalloped door handles, clearly a departure from the outgoing SLK.
With its normally-aspirated 306-horsepower V6, the SLK continues to directly compete with both the BMW Z4 and the Porsche Cayenne and Boxster. The AMG version, with an expected 450 horsepower, will tread into 911 territory in both price and performance when the new SLKs reach Mercedes-Benz showrooms in the summer of 2011.
It's fully apparent, especially from the direct front shot, that the the next SLK, while sporting the familiar silhouette and proportions carried through from its first two generations, picks up the front styling cues from the current SLS supercar, including both the more-upright front grille and hood. Also visible from our collection of photos are the LED directionals below the headlights. If you look closely behind the front license plate frame (especially in the higher resolution version of the photo in the Automotive Traveler image gallery) you might see what looks like an intercooler, indicating that this car is most likely turbocharged as we speculated earlier.
The new SLK obviously retains its signature folding metal top; however, one major difference from the current model is that a substantial portion of the retractable roof will be glass, most likely offered as an option across all models. Looking around the back of the car, although concealed by tape, the tail lights most likely use LEDs as part of the package. The twin exhaust pipes on this version clearly indicate that it is not the AMG version.
I wasn't able to get close enough to get a clean shot of the interior (note the dummy in the passenger seat), but other reports indicate a strong family resemblance to the new SLS in the cabin details, although as with the current SLK, the cabin will be a tighter fit, especially for taller drivers. But from its inception, this has been part of the SLK's charm to many. One area where the car will depart from past practice is that a diesel—the 2.2-liter 250 CDI with a 204 horsepower—will be offered. This is especially important in Europe where diesels are far more popular than here in the US, and this version is not expected to cross the Atlantic to the North American market. Another engine not initially expected to appear in the US, is the 184-horsepower SLK 200 Kompresser four-cylinder model, but that might change if gas prices start marching upwards.
Visit the Automotive Traveler image gallery to check out high-resolution spy photos of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK 350, and feel free to leave comments if you think we've missed any important details.