2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK350

September 23, 2011

Bottom line: This is a wonderful reward to self for those who can afford it. It is a celebration of life, motoring, freedom and all of the fantasies that attend to it. It is marginally practical, which is not a real fault. It is a roadster, after all, a motorized ode to joy.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Top marks in all three. The SLK350 has a tight turning circle of 34.5 feet, which takes the anxiety out of making U-turns on narrow neighborhood streets.

Head-turning quotient: It is not a car for fragile egos, or for people who need universal public approval. The SLK350 brings out the best and worst in people — those who smile and applaud, and those who, without any other provocation, enthusiastically give you the Ignoble Digital Salute.

Body style/layout: The SLK350 is a compact front-engine, rear-wheel-drive two-door retractable-hardtop, luxury roadster.

Engine/transmission: It comes with a standard 3.5-liter, 24-valve gasoline-direct-injection V-6 engine with variable valve timing. The engine is connected to a seven-speed automatic transmission that can also be shifted manually.

Capacities: There are seats for two people. Maximum cargo capacity is 10.1 cubic feet with the retractable hardtop up. It is an estimated eight cubic feet with the top down — enough, anyway, for four bags of groceries.

Safety: Standard equipment includes rear rollover bars; ventilated-front-disc, solid-rear-disc brakes with anti-lock protection; emergency braking assistance and electronic brake-force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; passenger head restraint system; and side air bags.

Price: The base price on the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK350 is $54,800. Dealer’s invoice price on that model is $50,964. Price as tested is $61,415, including $5,740 in options (onboard navigation with premium sound system, sports trim package with 18-inch-diameter high-performance wheels/tires, and high-intensity-discharge lighting package, among other spiffs) and an $875 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $57,178 — a lovable, total toy.

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