The new roadster presents the world premiere of the panoramic vario-roof with Magic Sky Control, which switches to light or dark at the touch of a button.
Innovations are part of the history of the Mercedes-Benz SLK: In 1996 the first generation caused a stir with the vario-roof, which transformed the roadster into a coupe with a fixed roof at the touch of a button; the second generation placed the warm Airscarf around the neck and shoulders of the occupants as needed, ensuring open-top motoring in cooler temperatures; now the third generation has the vario-roof with Magic Sky Control.
For this new car, the designers made a body to emphasize its classic roadster proportions. Behind the long hood is a compact passenger compartment and a short tail end.
The first feature to catch the eye is the upright radiator grille that bears the new Mercedes-Benz face. The wide radiator grille bears the Mercedes-Benz star in a prominent central position and displays a powerfully contoured, chromed fin at the front. The clearly defined headlamps complete the look for the new SLK's face, which is supposed to resemble the legendary 190 SL from the 1950s.
But it was not just the past that the designers were focusing on; with the new SLK front-end they also intentionally created a close link with the new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG "gullwing model" and the new CLS.
The measurable proof of the meticulous work in spite of the steeper front and the larger frontal area, is that the Cd value has been cut to just 0.30 against the predecessor model's Cd value of 0.32.
For the side view, fine details show the care taken by the Mercedes-Benz designers. For example, a fillet conceals the trunk joint to create a tidy visual aspect. The ventilation grilles in the front fenders with a chromed fin are reminiscent of the famous Mercedes-Benz roadsters of the 1950s. In the new SLK they form the starting point for a feature line, which flows to the muscular rear fenders, using light and shadow to add style. Meanwhile the upper edge of the wide headlamps - which boast all-LED technology - also flow into the feature line.
On the interior, the center console and trim parts gleam in brushed aluminum. Wood can be selected as an option in high-gloss dark brown walnut or high-gloss black ash. There are four round, galvanized air outlets integrated in the dashboard, with their shape said to be a nod to those in the SLS.
The SLK's generous round dials are flanked by the information display for the online computer. The color display for the communications and entertainment functions is housed in the center of the dashboard. On the top of the dashboard sits an analogue clock to continue the nostalgic flavor.
Other quality items include a multifunction sports steering wheel with a flattened bottom section and a thick leather crown, plus optional sun-reflecting leather to reduce the degree to which the surfaces heat up.
For the first time Mercedes-Benz is offering a choice of three variants of the lightweight vario-roof. The standard version is a roof painted in the vehicle color. Alternatively there is the option of a dark tinted panoramic vario-roof. The third variant is the panoramic vario-roof with Magic Sky Control. This glass roof switches to light or dark at the press of a button. When light, it is virtually transparent, offering an open-air experience even in cold weather. In its dark state, the roof provides shade and prevents the interior heating up when the sun is more intense.
A comfortable alternative to the conventional draught-stop is a new pivoting draught-stop for the SLK which has been invented by Mercedes-Benz aerodynamics engineers. It consists of pivoting transparent plastic layers, which are attached to the reverse of the roll-over bars. The driver or passenger can swing them to the centre of the vehicle in a flash, thus taming turbulent air flow.
In Europe, there will initially be three models available, all of them powered by new engines with direct injection. The four-cylinder engines in the SLK 200 BlueEFFICIENCY and SLK 250 BlueEFFICIENCY develop 184hp and 204hp respectively from a displacement of 1796cc.
The SLK 200 BlueEFFICIENCY is the most economical roadster in its segment. With the optional seven-speed automatic transmission 7G-Tronic Plus it returns 38.5mpg US on the combined cycle. The frugal model sprints from 0-to-62mph in 7.0 seconds, and achieves its top speed at 147mph (150 with manual transmission).
The SLK 250 BlueEFFICIENCY is equipped as standard with the 7G-Tronic Plus automatic transmission and returns 38mpg US on the combined cycle. From a standstill it reaches 62mph in 6.6 seconds, and it has a top speed of 150mph.
The V6 engine in the SLK 350 BlueEFFICIENCY draws 306hp from its 3498cc displacement, using this power to accelerate in 5.6 seconds from 0-to-62mph (top speed 155 mph). It returns 33mpg US on the combined cycle.
The new V6 engine has been developed from the ground up and its most important hallmarks are its 3rd-generation direct injection, piezo injectors and multi-spark ignition.
The fuel consumption improved by up to 25% compared with the previous models is partially due to the ECO start/stop system which is fitted as part of the standard specification in all models.
There are also three suspension versions to choose from: A conventional steel suspension comes as standard; A sports suspension with harder springs and dampers ensures a systematically sporty driving experience; As an alternative, a Dynamic Handling package is available. The latter's merits include a suspension with continuous adjustable damping. It has an electronically controlled fully automatic damping system, so the vehicle rolls gently even on poor road surfaces, but still offers high driving dynamics.
Also included in the Dynamic Handling package are a Direct-Steer system and the Torque Vectoring Brakes. The Direct-Steer system offers more handling and agility than the standard steering, while also reducing the amount of physical effort required when parking. In critical conditions, the Torque Vectoring Brakes produce a defined rotational movement of the vehicle about the vertical axis in fractions of seconds through selective brake actuation at the rear wheel on the inside of the bend. This results in the SLK stabilizing itself without any compromises where dynamism is concerned, and it steers into the bend precisely and under full control.
The new SLK's bodyshell structure has been further refined, with the hood and fenders now made of aluminum.
The new Mercedes-Benz SLK also sets new benchmarks in terms of safety. The third generation will make use of a host of the latest assistance systems to support the driver, including the drowsiness detection system ATTENTION ASSIST and the anticipatory occupant protection system Pre-Safe, both fitted as standard; plus the optional Pre-Safe Brake, which can apply the brakes autonomously in the event of an impending rear-end collision.
Those wishing to do so can extend the assistance systems in the new SLK even further: The Intelligent Light System provides five lighting functions (cornering light function, country mode, motorway mode, active light function and enhanced fog lamps), which are activated depending on the driving conditions; The Speed Limit Assist is able to detect speed limit signs using a camera on the inside of the windscreen and indicate the detected speed limit on a display in the instrument cluster
The new SLK will launch in the Europe in summer 2011. Pricing and specifications are yet to be confirmed.