2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class Review
The newly-redesigned Mercedes-Benz SLK isn’t the best performer in the class, but reviewers say it’s still an extremely satisfying sports car with just the right mix of luxury and driving fun.
Previous generations of the Mercedes-Benz SLK have been seen as a sports car that’s more about looks than performance. The 2012 SLK fights that perception, test drivers say. Though most critics agree that the SLK still isn’t an exceptional performer, they do say it skillfully mixes luxury with a sporty drive, resulting in a car that’s equally at home on Sunday drives and Monday commutes.
The 2012 SLK is a two-seat hard-top convertible. The redesign added some impressive features, including a glass roof panel that can darken to keep the cabin cool, a revamped and easy-to-use infotainment system, and premium cabin materials that reviewers love. Reviewers are also extremely positive about the SLK’s revamped styling, saying the SLK looks expensive and exotic. What test drivers don’t love is the SLK’s sometimes-touchy throttle response and price, which starts high and rises quickly when buyers start adding optional features.
Overall, reviewers agree that the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK is a very good car. Its performance is muted compared to other luxury sports cars, which irks some test drivers. Other reviewers, however, recognize that not all shoppers are looking to test their driving skills every time they get behind the wheel. For drivers who want a comfortable cruiser that can be reasonably sporty when asked, reviewers recommend the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK.
Other Sports Cars to Consider
Part of the SLK’s appeal is that it’s a hardtop convertible. The BMW Z4 is the other hardtop convertible in the class. Though the BMW edges the SLK slightly when it comes to performance, the difference is so small reviewers think many buyers won’t notice. The Z4 also has a higher starting price than the SLK
If you want better performance and can handle a cloth top, reviewers say there’s no substitute for the Porsche Boxster. With its mid-mounted engine, the Boxster has extremely balanced handling, matched only by its hardtop sibling, the Porsche Cayman. The base Boxster makes more horsepower than the SLK250, and the Boxster S makes more horsepower than the SLK350.
The Auto Press: In Their Own Words
- "Since the Mercedes-Benz SLK made its debut, its styling has been writing checks the rest of the car couldn't cash. The 2012 redesign has improved the SLK in many respects. Driving enthusiasts will still lean toward a BMW Z4 or Porsche Boxster, which outperform the SLK at the extremes, but the gap is closing. ... Styling and cabin quality alone should sell the car."--Cars.com
- +"Finally, the SLK350 is stunningly beautiful - sleek, muscular, diminutive, yet unmistakably powerful - the motorized equivalent of an attractive woman in uniform. That's my take, anyway. I love this car. I returned it to Mercedes-Benz reluctantly."--Washington Post
- "So is the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK good enough to stay relevant against its arch-rivals from BMW and Porsche? Absolutely. More enthusiastic drivers (say, those who want to shift their own gears), will still probably prefer the Porsche Boxster, but the SLK is no longer a slouch around corners, and it still has that retractable hardtop the Boxster lacks. The BMW Z4 does have a hardtop along with more interior space and more energetic engines, but it no longer feels substantially more fun to drive than the SLK. There's no way to go wrong here, but overall the rejuvenated 2012 SLK stands as an excellent choice in this impressive company."--Edmunds
2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK: The Details
The SLK line includes three models: the SLK250, SLK350 and SLK55 AMG. Completely redesigned for 2012, the SLK250 features a turbo-charged four-cylinder engine and a choice between a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission. The SLK350 has a 3.5-liter V6 and a seven-speed automatic transmission. The SLK55 AMG has a 5.5-liter V8 and a seven-speed automatic transmission. See full 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK specs.