Car Tips

New Mercedes-Benz SLK gets dose of testosterone

Monday, September 05, 2011

It came riding into the car world to acclaim in 1997. For 2012, the so-called Baby Benz roadster, the SLK, has gotten another makeover.

The third generation has new looks and new technology, but retains the car's hallmark since the beginning: a power folding hardtop.

Generations one and two were considered by many to be less than masculine looking. With a base price of $55,675, the updated SLK gets a big dose of automotive testosterone.

It also picks up styling cues from Mercedes-Benz's flagship sports car, the SLS AMG. One the outside, it's the grill. On the inside, it's the instrument cluster and the retro-type air vents.

The makeover is to better face the competition. Namely, the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster. Both those cars - similar in target market and sticker price - have always had the edge in sportiness over the SLK.

In the sports convertible segment, that can be important. The Benz comes out of the gate with an impressive V6 engine with more than 300 horsepower. Soon, a less expensive version will offer a turbo four cylinder.

The SLK is a great way to let the sunshine in while you drive, but what if you want just a little bit of sun?

The optional Magic Sky Control will let you manage that. A glass panel is embedded with a layer of tiny particles that react to electric charge. A push of the button changes the tinting of the glass to less or more.

Other technologies make this convertible easy to live with, too. Want to drive top-down on a cool day? Optional outlets blow warm air on your neck.

It still isn't the very sportiest car in its class. But the little Mercedes roadster has now gotten an injection of machismo, along with extra style and gizmos.

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