The 2011 Mercedes-Benz SLK line in the United States includes two distinct V6-powered models – the SLK300, with a 228-horsepower 3.0-liter V6; and the SLK350, which features a 300-hp version of the popular 3.5-liter V6. For 2011, both models come with standard Sport body styling that includes deeper front and rear aprons as well as lower door sills. Black inlays around the headlights have also been added.

Quiet Coupe to Topless Roadster in Only 22 Seconds
With the first retractable hardtop in modern times, the SLK started an industry trend toward hardtop convertibles that’s still going strong. After shaking up the small roadster market when it was introduced more than a decade ago, the second-generation SLK wowed the public again when it hit U.S. streets in 2004.

The SLK hardtop sets it apart from the competition. With the top up, it’s a quiet coupe – push a button, and the car goes topless. The SLK roof goes up or down in 22 seconds, and the folded roof takes up surprisingly little trunk space – thanks to its pivoting rear window. Like the retractable hardtop of the larger SL model, the rear window of the latest SLK swivels to match the curvature of the top, providing nearly three more cubic feet of trunk room than its predecessor.

Styling Influenced by the World of Formula 1 Racing
The latest SLK line boasts a front design with a strong influence from the world of Formula 1 racing, a rear apron incorporating an air diffuser and trapezoidal exhaust outlets. Inside, all SLKs showcase chronometer-type gauges with aluminum accents, a three-spoke sport steering wheel and an audio system with an in-dash six-disc CD / DVD changer as well as a Bluetooth interface that allows a cellular phone still in a pocket or purse to be operated through the car’s audio system.

The SLK is available with an optional multimedia package that includes a harman/kardon surround-sound audio system, HD radio, SIRIUS satellite radio, GPS navigation with a larger display, a voice control system, an SD memory card slot and a hard drive for storing music and GPS navigation maps.

One of the Safest Open Cars
The SLK is considered one of the safest roadsters in the world. In addition to its integrated roll bars and two-stage front air bags for both the driver and passenger, the SLK is also equipped with dual knee bags and head-thorax air bags located in the seat backs and can deploy above the top of the seat back to help provide better head and neck protection, similar to the curtain-type air bags on fixed-roof Mercedes models.

Like all Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles, the SLK comes equipped with ESP stability control, a Mercedes innovation that can help prevent slides and spins, especially in slippery weather. ESP can detect an impending spin or slide and prevent it by applying the brakes to individual wheels or reducing engine power. In addition, traction control helps to provide safer travel on slippery roads.

The SLK’s unibody uses an impressive amount of high-strength steel alloy – 42 percent of the total structure – and the entire body shell is zinc-coated for long-term corrosion protection. The SLK also makes use of a scratch-resistant clearcoat paint that was developed in the nano-technology sector.

Direct-Steer System
Both SLK models boast athletic performance, thanks in part to an innovative Direct-Steer system. Variable-ratio rack gearing provides impressive on-center steering feel with even higher responsiveness beyond the first five degrees of steering angle. Purely a mechanical system, Direct Steer minimizes steering input during cornering and in low-speed maneuvers such as parking.

SLK350 Engine Boasts 300 Horsepower
Both the SLK300 and SLK350 use advanced V6 engine technology that includes four valves per cylinder and variable valve timing. The 3.0-liter twin-cam V6 develops more than 80 percent of its maximum torque at only 1,500 rpm. While variable valve timing gets much of the credit for the SLK300’s broad torque curve, a two-stage intake manifold also plays a key role. Tumble flaps in the engine intake passages increase gas mileage by creating more turbulence at part throttle.

For 2011, the SLK350 can be identified by new 18-inch, split-five-spoke wheels. With its higher-revving, 7,200-rpm redline, the SLK350 engine features more horsepower and torque, thanks to its larger displacement as well as specially shaped pistons that produce a higher 11.7-to-1 compression ratio, a modified camshaft for higher valve lift, heavy-duty conical valve springs and lightweight valves made of high-temperature steel as well as sodium-cooled exhaust valves. To counteract high-speed camshaft chain vibration, the higher-revving SLK350 Sport engine comes with tri-oval chain sprockets. Above 6,300 rpm, the tri-oval sprockets generate inversely phased pulses that tend to neutralize the usual vibration. For maximum air flow at high rpm, the Sport engine makes use of a single-stage intake manifold, and valve timing has been advanced slightly to preserve its broad power range.

AIRSCARF for an Extended Driving Season
An optional AIRSCARF system can extend the open-air driving season into the cooler months. Built into the seatbacks of the SLK, the neck-level heating system blows warm air from the driver and passenger-seat head restraints, allowing occupants to cruise comfortably with the retractable hardtop open in cooler weather. AIRSCARF even compensates automatically for changes in vehicle speed.

Source: Daimler AG