Friday, December 16, 2011

2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK 350 Review

The Carreview Window Sticker
Specs: $67k price, 302 HP, 19/26 Mileage and 0-60 in 5.5 seconds
  • The best SLK styling in years
  • Slingshot Acceleration and excellent handling
  • Custom Tailoring
  • Slick Roof with on-the-fly adjustable tint
  • A roadster that appeals to many of the buyer’s instincts
  • Lack of Storage
  • No Manual Tranny
  • Steep price of $67k
The Review:
The SLK is the closest thing Mercedes makes to a sports car. It is small, nimble and fast, seats only two, and functions as a convertible or a closed coupe. The SLK is a stunning piece of design. You can learn more about a car’s true mettle if you wash and dry its metal. In the process of cleaning the SLK for a photo shoot, I marveled at the complexity of its shape. This roadster has more flutes than a champagne glass. In fact, you can hardly find a single flat plane on the entire body. The bodywork looks muscular and buffed, with short overhangs fore and aft, and bulging fenders to accommodate the beefy tires and AMG alloys. 7.5 inch front rims carry 225/40ZR18 Pirelli P Zero rubber, with 8.5 inch back rims equipped with 245/35ZR18 Pirellis. The simple AMG 5-spoke rims are part of a $2,500 Sport Package that includes appealing “Sport Body Styling” plus haunting interior illumination in “SOLAR red.”
What prevents the SLK from full sports car status is lack of manual transmission availability. Like so many other manufacturers, Mercedes sees no point in Federalizing a separate (manual) gearbox for a customer take rate of 5 or 10 percent. Still, those are the very customers who will buy an Audi TTS or Porsche 911 expressly because those companies offer them the choice to shift gears by depressing a cutch pedal. Not that the SLK’s 7-speed automatic is a bad piece of engineering. To the contrary, it offers the driver Efficiency, Sport and Manual modes, while providing small steering wheel-mounted paddles to control up and down changes. Even so, the SLK is less driver-involving than it could be with a slick stick shift.

Tony Fernandes' Caterham F1 Team Unveils New Logo

You would have known by now that the Lotus vs Lotus naming row is over, and in 2012 Lotus Renault GP will race as ‘Lotus’ while Tony Fernandes’ Team Lotus has changed its name to Caterham F1 Team. The AirAsia boss and friends bought over British sportscar maker Caterham back in April.
Caterham F1 Team has unveiled its new logo for the 2012 F1 season, which uses a familiar green background with yellow accents. Tony Fernandes explains that the name change makes perfect sense for him.
“With Team Lotus, I would have battled to the end if I felt it was the right thing to do, but when you take a dispassionate look at where we were it made absolute sense to start with a clean sheet, and Caterham has given us that chance,” he told the team’s magazine.
“It’s the best possible solution for where we want to go – partly because it gives us complete control over everything we do and, obviously, because there’s simply no point racing to promote a road car company I don’t own. The road car business has always been a sector I’ve wanted to explore and so here we are.
“But I can’t stress enough; this is a serious business venture for us. If I just needed a new name, I could have called it anything, but the synergy with Caterham works better – and it’s what I do – take a small business with the correct core values and purpose and expand it and grow it into the global marketplace.”