The most powerful SLK ever is headed for production. Mercedes recently detailed the newest version of its sporty SLK55 AMG, the high-performance variant of its recently redesigned SLK roadster. Set to arrive at US dealers early next year, the 2012 SLK55 features a new engine, unique interior and exterior trim and AMG's trademark brutal performance.
Of course, one of the SLK55's biggest attractions comes under the hood. The previous model's 5.4-liter V8 is supplanted by a new 5.5-liter V8 featuring a hefty 415 horsepower - 60 more ponies than its predecessor. While the SLK55's new engine is similar to the one found in the E63 AMG, CLS63 AMG, S63 AMG and CL63 AMG, it lacks the twin turbochargers which give those models an even more muscular 518 horsepower. But the SLK55 is no slouch: Mercedes says even without biturbo power, the two-seat roadster can hit 60 mph from a standing start in just 4.5 seconds.
In addition to the SLK55's impressive performance numbers, Mercedes is also quick to point out the convertible's fuel economy benefits. The automaker says its new V8 features cylinder shutoff, quickly turning the brawny SLK55 into a miserly four-cylinder for highway cruising. But if a driver needs more power quickly, all eight cylinders roar back to life in just 30 milliseconds.
Of course, there's more to the 2012 SLK55 AMG than its raucous powerplant. Exterior styling upgrades include distinctive AMG wheels, an AMG bodykit and spoiler lip and chrome-plated tailpipes, while interior modifications include an AMG-specific steering wheel, an abundance of brushed aluminum and distinctive AMG dials.
Other modifications over the standard SLK roadster include revised sport suspension to improve handling, three-stage traction control, which lets drivers choose their driving style, and an AMG-modified automatic transmission. Dubbed AMG Speedshift Plus, the 7-speed transmission shortens shift times under full acceleration and offers a throttle blip during downshifts for improved speed exiting corners.
Mercedes has not announced pricing for its new SLK55 AMG, though we expect to learn more details at next month's Frankfurt Auto Show.