Third-generation SLK update brings new SLC name and much sharper pricing for Australia.
No, this isn’t a brand new niche roadster but a significantly facelifted version of Mercedes-Benz’s familiar third-generation SLK. Picking up where its predecessor left off, the SLC range has now hit Australia with a model line-up of four variants featuring completely revamped drivetrains, a raft of new features, and a revised pricing structure with prices starting at $70,900.
The SLC moniker follows Mercedes-Benz’s move to streamline their naming convention two years ago. While the ‘SL’ code continues to denote its relation to Mercedes’ long and storied lineage of roadsters, the new ‘C’ designation marks out its ‘traditionally close relationship with the C-Class’. Though that being said, the new naming combination neatly allows for the future addition of bigger or smaller sized sports cars to the brand’s stable.
Changes to the third-generation SLK’s looks are subtle but noticeable, as the SLC sports a more svelte and cohesive appearance that befits a roadster of its size, as compared to its predecessor’s brash and angular SLS-mimicking lines. The radiator grille now comes with Mercedes’ popular ‘diamond radiator grille’ motif as standard, while the LED daytime running lights are now integrated into the SLC’s sleek new headlight clusters. And as expected of Mercedes’ baby roadster, the folding hardtop is still used.
New to the SLC range is a $70,900 entry-level model, the SLC 180. Utilising a 1.6-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine producing 115kW and 250Nm of torque, similar to the engine used in the C180 variant (which is unavailable in Australia), the SLC 180 gets from 0 to 100km/h in 8.1 seconds.
A step up the range is the $83,855 SLC 200 which employs the C-Class’ 2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged mill under its bonnet. With a power output of 135kW, the SLC 200 boasts the same power figures as the outgoing SLK 200’s 1.8-litre turbocharged unit, although torque has been increased from 270Nm to 300Nm. The SLC 200’s 0 to 100km/h claim of 6.9 seconds is now a tenth of a second quicker than the SLK 200’s time.
The $99,855 SLC 300 on the other hand strikes a middle ground between the old SLK 250 and SLK 350 in terms of powertrain specifications. Using the same 2-litre petrol-fed powertrain as the SLC 200, power has been bumped up to 180kW/370Nm, which is 30kW more than the SLK 250’s 1.8-litre engine, with similar torque figures as the SLK 350’s 225kW 3.5-litre naturally-aspirated V6. That being said the SLC 300’s 0 to 100km/h time of 5.8 seconds is remarkably close to the SLK 350’s boast of 5.6 seconds.
Topping the range is the new Mercedes-AMG SLC 43, replacing the SLK 55 AMG as the sole AMG-tweaked variant in the line-up. Although the SLC 43’s 3-litre turbocharged petrol V6 can’t match the SLK 55’s gargantuan 5.5-litre naturally-aspirated V8 for power, 270kW/520Nm versus 310kW/540Nm, it gets close to the latter’s 0 to 100km/h time of 4.6 seconds at 4.7 seconds. Not to mention the SLC 43 is a whole lot more affordable at $134,615, as compared to the SLK 55’s massive $162,400 price tag.
AMG’s re-engineering goes a step further with the fitment of new engine and rear-axle gear unit mountings to deliver better lateral grip and low body roll.
All variants of the SLC comes fitted with a 9G-Tronic nine-speed torque converter automatic, which replaces the SLK’s 7G-Tronic seven-speed automatic.
When it comes to equipment, the SLC 180 already comes well-kitted with 18-inch wheels, Garmin Map Pilot navigation, solar-reflecting leather upholstery with heated seats, a reverse camera, DAB+ digital radio, and Apple CarPlay as standard.
As for safety features, standard features for the SLC range include six airbags, Pre-Safe collision preparation, Attention Assist drowsiness detection, Active Bonnet, Active Brake Assist AEB, and a reverse camera.
The SLC 200 adds Dynamic Select driving modes and electrically-adjustable seats on top of the SLC 180’s offerings, whereas the SLC 300 brings the SLK 350’s extra equipment offerings in the form of 18-inch AMG wheels, AMG bodystyling, a lowered sports suspension, Keyless-Go, and Airscarf neck-level heating. Adding to the SLC’s standard suite of safety features, the SLC 300 also comes fitted with an additional Distance Pilot adaptive cruise control.
As for the SLC 43, AMG has garnished their sole SLC offering with plenty of extras aside from its added luxuries such as the panoramic sunroof, AMG Nappa leather wrapped sports seats, LED Intelligent Light System, Comand Online navigation, ambient lighting, and Harmon Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system.
Being a product of AMG, the SLC 43 comes with a modified version of the SLK 55’s AMG Sports Suspension that is equipped to its specially developed front and rear axles. AMG’s re-engineering goes a step further with the fitment of new engine and rear-axle gear unit mountings to deliver better lateral grip and low body roll.
The 9G-Tronic automatic fitted to the SLC 43 has been tweaked by AMG to deliver significantly shorter shift times, with a double-declutching function included into the Dynamic Select’s ‘Sport’ and ‘Sport+’ modes, and partial ignition interruptions on ‘Sport+’ mode for even faster gearshifts.
AMG has also furnished the SLC 43 with an AMG high performance braking system and AMG Sport exhaust system with two adjustable exhaust flaps as standard. Driving enthusiasts can further hone the SLC 43’s edge with the addition of a rear mechanical limited-slip differential, which is offered on the AMG Handling package.
2016 Mercedes-Benz SLC list pricing
SLC 180 - $70,900 (new variant)
SLC 200 - $83,855 (down $3,345 from the SLK 200)
SLC 300 - $99,855 (down $25,545 from the SLK 350)
AMG SLC 43 - $134,615 (down $27,785 from the SLK 55 AMG)