Early drive: Mercedes SLC

  • Impressive performance
  • Diesel option for low costs
  • Largest boot in class

Mercedes-Benz has revealed its latest offering into the compact roadster market – the SLC-Class.

Replacing the SLK, this new car is a similar-looking machine to its predecessor, featuring a slightly revised front end with a more steeply raked radiator grill, but gains optimised technology and additions to the range to keep it up-to-date against such rivals as the Porsche Boxster and BMW Z4. In its higher specifications it could even take on the Jaguar F-Type.

Improved range of petrol and diesel engines

The SLC is available with a range of four petrol engines and one diesel, with a new 1.6-litre petrol four-cylinder being offered as an entry-level option in the SLC 180. Two different 2-litre petrol engines are available, as well as the firm’s old 2.1-litre diesel, with a range topping 3-litre V6 biturbo petrol going into the SLC 43.

At the bottom of the range, the base SLC 180 produces a more modest 156bhp and 250Nm of torque, giving it a 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds when coupled with a six-speed manual gearbox and a top-speed of 140mph. This baby of the range also delivers impressive fuel consumption, returning 50.4mpg and emitting a CO2 figure of 127 g/km. However the most economical model is the SLC 250d with its 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel returning 64.2mpg and making 114 g/km of CO2, while still being able to make the sprint from 0-62mph in 6.6 seconds and going on to 152mph.

Mercedes-AMG SLC 43

Performance fans will want to investigate this new top-of-the-range roadster, which is set to produce 367bhp and 520Nm of torque, propelling it from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 155mph through a nine-speed 9G-TRONIC automatic gearbox. The SLC 43 also receives a modified version of the AMG sports suspension from the Mercedes-AMG SLK 55 to keep it planted through the corners.

Meanwhile, all five models are available with the 9G-TRONIC automatic gearbox, with the SLC 300, SLC 250d and SLC 43 having it as standard and the other models as a cost option.

With the auto Mercedes also offers the DYNAMIC SELECT system, allowing the driver to adjust the car’s characteristics at the touch of a button; modifying the engine, gearbox, steering and suspension. A Dynamic Handling package is also offered as an optional extra, which can then let the driver use DYNAMIC SELECT to specify damping forces, altering between comfortable and a firmer, sportier set-up.

New equipment and technology

Further technology has been packed into the SLC, with Active Brake Assist being added as standard, which uses a radar system to warn the driver about collision risks and automatically apply the brakes if a collision is deemed likely. Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist are also available options.

Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus is now also available and allows for continuous high beam usage, detecting other road users via a camera behind the windscreen and adjusting the headlamps accordingly so as not to dazzle them. Traffic Sign Assist has also been made available for the SLC, a system that can recognise road signs and warn the driver of changing restrictions.

Inside, the SLC features Mercedes’ COMAND Online infotainment system with a seven-inch display, incorporating sat-nav with free updates for three years, internet access and phone connectivity.

Practical touches on the SLC

Parking is also easier, with Parking Assist (parking sensors) and a reversing camera with guidelines for positioning the car in a space being optional extras.

The folding roof has also been improved, now able to be raised or closed at speeds of up to 30mph, as well as having an automatic boot separator, which increases boot capacity when the roof is raised, allowing for 335 litres of boot space.

With the roof down the SLC continues to be able to provide the right climate, with heated seats and AIRSCARF - a neck-level heating system for the front two passengers.

The panoramic vario-roof MAGIC SKY CONTROL has remained a feature, allowing for the glass roof to be tinted at the touch of a button.

This new convertible will be available to order in January 2016 and arriving in showrooms in April. Keep an eye out for the full Parkers Mercedes-Benz SLC review.