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Mercedes-Benz SLK 2012 Review

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Only a few months after the release of the standard models in the SLK sports roadster range, Mercedes-Benz has launched the hot SLK 55 AMG variant.

There are several reasons for the fast turnaround to get the ultra-quick SLK 55 Down Under. Firstly, ours is one of the biggest markets for the AMG models in the world as wealthy car enthusiasts just love them. Secondly, the Australian car market is powering along at a time when European sales are sagging.

Finally, these days AMG is working more closely than ever with its parent company, Mercedes-Benz, so is able to incorporate necessary body and suspension mods into the car at the drawing board stage.

PRICE

We used the words ‘wealthy car enthusiasts’ to describe Aussies buying AMG models. This isn’t necessarily so when it comes to the latest Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG. The strength of the Australian dollar, combined with hard edged negotiations with the German head office means the price of the SLK 55 has been trimmed by a significant $27,000 compared to the outgoing model. So just $155,000 plus on roads will put the new Merc onto your driveway.

OK, families struggling with a mortgage won’t be in the market for an SLK 55, but anyone on a reasonable salary who is prepared to do without a few other of life’s little luxuries can get into the driving seat.

ENGINE AND MECHANICAL

AMG has worked hard for several years to produce an all-new 5.5-litre V8 engine. This unit is becoming increasingly familiar in the Mercedes-Benz and AMG ranges, but as installed in the SLK it differs from the other high-performance units in being naturally aspirated instead of turbocharged. It still manages to produce up to 310 kW of power and 540 Nm of torque.

Though economy is obviously not a primary concern in a high-performance engine like this, Mercedes-Benz and AMG have put a considerable amount of effort into reducing fuel use and emissions, resulting in an engine that has higher power but achieves this by using as much as 30 per cent less fuel. Under light conditions the V8 engine actually becomes a V4 as it deactivates half of its cylinders.

The engine sends all this grunt to the rear wheels (of course!) by way of a seven-speed automatic transmission that has several modes: C (for Controlled efficiency), Sport and Sport+. In the interests of smoothness at commuting speeds the transmission uses a conventional torque convertor, rather than the manual-type clutch as on the ultra-hot AMG models.

DRIVING

We have been able to spend several hours at the wheel of a couple of the new Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMGs and like what we feel. As the new engine isn’t turbocharged its response is all-but instantaneous. There’s a great push in the back as the car leaps from rest to 100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds. This sort of acceleration also makes for very safe overtaking.

The quality of sound from the big V8 is excellent, but we could have done with a bit more quantity - that is louder…  Even with the top down we kept wishing for more aural input as the engine went up and down through the rev range. In particular, the sounds of the blips on fast downchanges and the burble on overrun would have been greatly appreciated.

The automatic can be controlled through steering wheel paddles and has very fast changes. Once the first manual shift is made the auto remains in the gear selected rather than reverting to Drive as happens in less sporting models. We like it like that.

Handling is pin sharp, with virtually instantaneous turn in and response. The SLK 55 AMG is the lightest of the Mercedes high-performance range and feels neat and nimble for a car with a mass on the wrong side of 1600 kg.

Comfort is generally good, though the ride is a little pitchy at times. This is probably to be expected in a full-house sportscar with a relatively short wheelbase. We got the suspension down to the bump stops a couple of times and the SLK 55 really crashed down on them.

Aside from the sporting side of the new AMG; it has plenty of creature comforts in the way of a true grand tourer. Leather trim is standard as is the full suite of communication aids including Bluetooth streaming and up to 10 Gb of storage space. The interior is quiet with the roof raised, indeed it’s almost as though you are riding in a closed coupe. That’s impressive.

MERCEDES-BENZ SLK55 AMG

Price: From $155,000
Engine: 5.5litre, V8
Outputs: 310kw/540Nm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic

Pricing guides

$39,895
Based on 6 cars listed for sale in the last 6 months
Lowest Price
$28,990
Highest Price
$36,800

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
SLK55 AMG 5.5L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO $42,500 – 54,340 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class 2012 SLK55 AMG Pricing and Specs
SLK200 BE 1.8L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $26,900 – 35,640 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class 2012 SLK200 BE Pricing and Specs
Pricing Guide

$28,990

Lowest price, based on 4 car listings in the last 6 months

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.