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Mercedes SLC more than just a name change

Shift happens: Mercedes-Benz has introduced the new SLC180 variant into its two-seat roadster range, the only passenger vehicle in its stable available with a manual gearbox.

New entry variant, new engines and more standard gear for Mercedes-Benz SLC

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Mercedes-Benz logo8 Sep 2016

By TUNG NGUYEN

MERCEDES-BENZ’S SLK-replacing SLC has arrived with more than just surface-level changes as the new rear-drive two-seat roadster receives a pricing reshuffle, new engine options, improved safety technology, and the only manual gearbox in its entire passenger-car range.

According the Mercedes, the name change is to acknowledge the “traditionally close relationship with the C-Class” where “much of the roadster’s technology is derived”, and can be differentiated from its SLK predecessor by the diamond radiator grille and reworked lower front fascia.

A new entry-level SLC180 variant has been introduced, priced at $70,900 before on-road costs, while the SLC200 receives a $3300 price cut to $83,855. The SLC300 jumps $400 to $99,855 and the new flagship AMG43 carries a $134,615 sticker price.

Powering the new SLC180 – available with a six-speed manual or no-cost nine-speed torque converter automatic – is a 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol, producing 115kW of power and 250Nm of torque, marking the return of a sub-2.0-litre engine into Mercedes’ two-seat roadster range which was last seen in 2015 before Mercedes replaced the powerplant of the SLK200 with a 2.0-litre engine.

Mercedes-Benz public relations and product communications manager Jerry Stamoulis said the debut of the SLC180 would broaden the appeal of its two-seat roadster and is instrumental in the German marque’s new approach.

“With the SLC180, looking at previous models like the C180 coupe that we had in the previous generation – the W204 C-Class – there was certainly a market that were happy with that engine,” he said.

“Those of us internally who have driven the C-Class coupe which had the 1.6-litre thought it was a great engine and we had the opportunity to bring that engine into the SLC.

“We thought, let’s see how we can maybe capture a different market to what SLK did because we’ve changed the strategy. You can tell by the entire line-up, a fair amount has changed compared to the SLK.” Standard equipment on the SLC180 includes 18-inch wheels, satellite navigation, leather interior, heated seats, reversing camera, digital radio and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

With peak torque available from 1200-4000rpm, the baby SLC will accelerate from zero to 100km/h in 7.9 seconds, or 8.1s with the automatic transmission option ticked, before hitting an electronically limited top speed of 210km/h.

Fuel efficiency is rated at 5.2 litres per 100km in the 1428 kilogram manual SLC180 and 6.2L/100km for the 1456kg SLC180 automatic.

Moving up to the SLC200 adds Dynamic Select driving modes and removes the manual option, but sees power increase to 135kW/300Nm courtesy of the SLK200 carryover 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, able to propel the SLC from 0-100km/h in 6.9s and return a fuel economy figure of 6.2L/100km.

The SLC300 gains 18-inch AMG wheels, AMG bodykit, lowered sports suspension, keyless entry and start, radar guided cruise control, and Mercedes’ Airscarf system to heat occupant’s necks with the roof down.

Powered by a 180kW/370Nm 2.0-litre turbo four – the same engine in its SLK300 predecessor – the automatic-only SLC300 will accelerate from 0-100km/h in 5.8s with a fuel economy figure of 6.3L/100km.

While the new range-topping automatic-only AMG43 ditches the outgoing SLK55 AMG’ s 310kW/540Nm 5.5-litre naturally aspirated V8 donk in favour of a 270kW/520Nm 3.0-litre biturbo V6, the SLC is only 0.1 seconds slower to 100km/h, reaching the speed from a standstill in 4.7s.

Fuel economy, as expected, is improved from 8.5L/100km in the V8 to 7.9L/100km in the V6 and additional equipment over the SLC300 includes a modified version of the AMG-fettled suspension from the SLK55 AMG, specially designed engine and rear axle mounts, an adjustable AMG sports exhaust, perforated front and rear brakes, sports seats wrapped in Nappa leather, Harman Kardon sound system and ambient lighting.

Mercedes-AMG chairman Tobias Moers said the AMG SLC43 is still a thoroughbred AMG despite the downsizing of the engine.

“The new Mercedes-AMG SLC43 unites the classic virtues of a roadster with exemplar efficiency,” he said.

“Weighing less and with lower fuel consumption, the new SLC43 delivers a similar performance to the SLK55 on the race track. This vehicle provides typical AMG driving pleasure in a compact open-top two-seater in line with the needs of today’s market.” While its C-Class stablemate has a choice of two AMG-fettled versions, the AMG C43 powered by the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and a fire-breathing 4.0-litre biturbo V8 AMG C63 S, Mr Stamoulis ruled out the higher-performing engine for Mercedes’ roadster range.

“Look at this stage, there is no other variant planned above the 43,” he said. “Never say never, but at this stage, for the foreseeable future, that is the top-of-the-range AMG model.” Safety features standard across the new SLC range include six airbags, Active Brake Assist with emergency autonomous braking, driver fatigue warning system and hill-start assist.

2016 Mercedes-Benz SLC pricing*
SLC180 $70,900
SLC180 (a) $70,900
SLC200 (a) $83,855
SLC300 (a) $99,855
SLC43 AMG (a) $134,615
*Excludes on-road costs

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