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The 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG – the most powerful production series SLK ever built by luxury German car maker – has just been launched in Australia.

It’s the third generation SLK AMG roadster, a model that began life in 2001 with the supercharged V6 SLK32 AMG. That car developed 260kW and 450Nm and was easily the most powerful vehicle it its class.

The SLK55 AMG followed at the end of 2004 with a more powerful 5.5-litre V8 engine developing 265kW of power and a stomping 510Nm of torque.

For 2012, the SLK55 AMG gets an all-new naturally aspirated 5.5-litre V8 engine with cylinder shut-off for an optimum performance/fuel consumption balance. Despite the car’s obvious ‘green intentions’ the latest powerhouse from AMG lifts output to a more serious 310kW and 540Nm, while maintaining fuel consumption of just 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres (combined) and CO2 emissions of 197 grams per kilometre, or 30 per cent lower than that of the previous generation.

The engine is based on AMG’s M157 5.5-litre biturbo engine that powers the E63 AMG, CLS63 AMG, S63 AMG and CL63 AMG, but of course, without the turbochargers.

While key features of this new powerplant including displacement, ECO stop/start function and the microprocessor-controlled direct injection are identical to the donor powerplant, technology such as the cylinder shut-off system, new intake air ducting, new cylinder heads, modified valve drive and an optimised crankcase, and adapted oil supply system are new.

It’s a high compression unit with a ratio of 12.6:1 and will rev to a maximum engine speed of over 7000rpm.

The SLK55 AMG will sprint from 0-100km/h in 4.6 seconds and its top speed is electronically limited to 250km/h. It’s also the most economical V8 engine currently on the market anywhere in the world.

AMG says its cylinder shut-off technology is borrowed from Formula One, as cylinders two, three, five and eight are shut off under partial load if the driver has less demand for speed such as during low-speed corning or entering and exiting pit lane. Although the function is available from 800 to 3600rpm, there is never less than 230Nm on tap in four-cylinder mode.

Switching from four to eight cylinders is largely imperceptible and takes around 30 milliseconds with an accompanying readout in the instrument cluster of “ECO4” to “ECO8”.

Power is transferred to the rear wheels by AMG’s seven-speed automatic transmission (AMG Speedshift Plus 7G-Tronic) with the ability to switch between three driving modes: controlled efficiency ‘C’, sport ‘S’ and manual ‘M’. The transmission also features double-declutching on downshifts, which adds to the car’s high performance allure.

The SLK55 AMG comes standard with AMG sports suspension with torque vectoring brake and AMG direct steer system for more stability when cornering under load. The steering system has also been optimised to match the movement or characteristics of the sports suspension.

Both spring and damper settings have been stiffened, but not at the expense of ride quality, says Mercedes-Benz.

For even more enhanced driving dynamics buyers can option the AMG handling package that includes AMG performance suspension with stiffer spring and damper rates, AMG rear axle differential lock, composite front brakes and the signature AMG three-spoke steering wheel in Nappa leather with Alcantara inserts and paddle shifters.

Additionally, the SLK55 AMG is equipped with AMG’s exclusive three-stage ESP, offering drivers the choice between ‘ESP ON’,’ SPORT Handling Mode’, and ‘ESP OFF’.

Brakes are courtesy of four-pot calipers up front and a single calliper at the rear.

With front-end styling inspired by the Mercedes-Benz SLS super sports car and trademark AMG quad exhaust tips (oval shape), there’s no mistaking the SLK55 AMG for its standard SLK siblings.

The key visual highlights of the SLK55 AMG include a new front apron and splitter in a high-gloss black finish, larger and more aggressive front air intakes, AMG-specific LED daytime driving lights, large centrally mounted three-pointed star and dark edged headlamps and tail lamps.

The side vents with chrome strip are highlighted by “V8 AMG” lettering and the new rear apron incorporates a black diffuser insert with three fins. Also unique to the SLK55 AMG is the spoiler lip on the boot lid, which aids in reducing lift and better high-speed stability.

Inside the SLK55 AMG is again reminiscent of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster with four jet engine-style air vents and a centre console finished in brushed aluminium.

Standard equipment includes 18-inch five-spoke light-alloy wheels, AMG sports seats, Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system, AMG instrument cluster with racetimer, Nappa leather upholstery with bespoke solar reflecting treatment (reduces surface temperature by up to 13 per cent), Command online multimedia system with 40GB HDD navigation and 10GB music register, and memory package including electrically operated front seats, steering column and exterior mirrors.

The SLK55 AMG is equipped with a full suite of active and passive safety kit including six airbags with door window bags and seat-mounted side airbags, neck pro head restraints, pre-safe system, active bonnet, acceleration skid control, adaptive brake with hold function and brake drying in the wet, as well as a host of other safety features.

Despite the high level of standard equipment, Mercedes-Benz Australia has priced the SLK55 AMG at $155,000 (Manufacturer’s List Price), which equates to a $24,360 price drop over the previous generation model.

The optional AMG handling package is available for $8825.

CarAdvice is currently at the launch of the Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG. Stay tuned for our full first-drive review, coming soon.




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