2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK350 [w/video]

Published on February 8, 2012, by in Automobile.

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Sport, Compact, Light? Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad

Sportlich, Leicht, Kompakt. If your German is as spotty as ours, that stands for ” Sporty, Light, Compact,” and it’s telling that those are the three letters used by Mercedes-Benz as an adopted moniker for the small hardtop/convertible coupe that it released all the way back in 1996. Thing is, it never really stood out as any of those things: Sporty, but certainly not powerful. Light, but, at a hair over 3,000 pounds, far from featherweight. Compact? Sure, a 94-inch wheelbase sounds about right, but the car has gotten bigger with every successive generation and has never seemed small behind the wheel the same way as, say, a Mazda MX-5 Miata.

If the Mercedes-Benz SLK350 isn’t a quick and nimble little sports car, what is it? It’s been a sales success for the most part, peaking in 2005 with 11,278 units sold in the United States, though those numbers have fallen in recent years. And it’s also been labeled time and time again as a so-called “chick car.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but those two words are a veritable death knell to the heads and hearts of driving enthusiasts the world over (though curiously the Miata has largely earned an exemption).

With keys to the latest 2012 SLK350 in hand, we pondered this latest compact roadster from Mercedes-Benz with a critical eye. Has the SLK grown into a proper sporting mount, or does it still wear the dreaded chick-car stereotype? As it turns out, the answer is a little bit of both.

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2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK350 [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 02 Feb 2012 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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