A few people on the forum @JockySteer
to name a couple have asked me for my thoughts on the R172 SLK55 AMG. I've deliberately waited a while to post so I could really get a feel for the car and give a decent appraisal of it's strengths, weaknesses and generally how I'd compare it to the R171 SLK55.
The look of the car divides people as we all know. Many can't stand the new squared off front end particularly when compared with F1/SLR inspired lines of the R171. For me I found that the shape had grown on me before I bought one and it has continued to do so since I took ownership. Don't get me wrong I still love the R171 shape but I think the R172 definitely has a more masculine look than it's predecessor which I now prefer. Like the R171 if the R172 has a bad viewing angle I'd say it's the square on front view but from every other angle I personally think it looks great. My favourite part of the body styling would probably be the rear quarter panels, I love how they are shaped.
I'm not a big fan of chrome and had to tame down the front grille, there was just too much of it in that area for my liking. I also hated the cheap looking plastic bonnet vents. Ironically I think these need the chrome fins to be in keeping with rest of the car. The vents can be made to look better in a number of ways but I opted to paint them flat black before fitting the fins. I also did the same with the rear diffuser to take away the grey plastic look.
The cabin in the R172 is a very nice place to be! The seats are a big improvement over the R171 and the all in all the trim just looks and feels more premium. I was never a fan of the black rubber used extensively in my R171. To cut a long story short the interior trim is a massive improvement over the R171. The controls and infotainment system are generally good but in my car I don't have the Harman Kardon speaker upgrade which I had in R171 and therefore the audio quality isn't as good.
Despite the obvious similarities between the two cars there are a number of differences which I think really stand out. The ride quality is far superior in the R172 and handling seems to have improved considerably too. The R172 feels lighter at the front and seems to turn in better and with less body roll than my R171. Granted the mileage difference and condition of the suspension may have a bearing on this sensation but I believe the R172 is far less prone to understeer. The better ride quality and improved handling kind of make the R172 a little less exciting and less challenging to drive than the R171 at times. The R171 feels more of a raw sports car than the R172 but the latter is definitely more capable at the same time. It took me a long time to settle with the new car and I only really bonded properly with it on our recent trip to the Lake District. Another striking difference between the 2 cars is the exhaust note. The revised exhaust system with flaps appears to have been born out of the need to make the car sound ok when running in ECO 4 cylinder mode. It has made the car a fair bit quieter the R171. The R172 exhaust note although quieter is pleasingly deep and powerful sounding whilst remaining pretty subtle. Having replaced secondary cats/resonator with an x-pipe on my R171 I was very pleased with the soundtrack and it is one of the things I will miss! The new exhaust isn't all that bad however and I really like the 'bark' from it when rapidly accelerating and going up through the gears. The rev matching thottle blips on downshift make some sweet music too. When I got my R172 it had a defective exhaust flap on one side which was permanently closed. The flap actuators seem to be prone to failure and it's something I would urge any prospective buyer to check for before buying especially if the car is out of warranty. Driving in manual is much improved over the R171 with a much faster change using the paddles. Night driving in either car is generally very good with the bi-xenon headlights but there is a noticeable improvement in the R172 units with 'intelligence'.
Fuel economy has improved greatly with the cylinder deactivation and start stop system. I have managed 30mpg on a run. This was one of my key drivers for moving over to the R172. I think I could get great economy from the car if I could resist the urge to plant my right foot a little more but that is proving quite difficult!
I'm happy that the R172 SLK55 is in my view a much improved car overall when compared with the R171. I have now agreed sale of my R171, I will miss her and her soundtrack but I'm continuing to fall in love with my new ride and have no regrets about making the change. As much as the two cars are similar they are very different animals in a lot of respects too. Both are guaranteed to put a smile on your face!
If anyone is considering changing and wants to ask me a question about anything more specific I'll do my best to answer, so fire away!