For nearly 20 years, the least expensive drop-top in the Mercedes-Benz lineup has worn the SLK nameplate, partly as a sign of respect to the top-dog SL convertible but also an acknowledgment of its shorter (or kurz in German) footprint. However, Mercedes is in the midst of renaming most of the vehicles in its lineup, and the SLK is no exception. The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class might have a new name badge and spiffy new sheetmetal, but underneath it is the same little roadster that is equally at home on meandering backroads as it is on the open highway.
For now, the refreshed SLC comes in two versions: the fuel-efficient (and more affordable) SLC300 and the performance-oriented AMG SLC 43. The SLC 43 replaces the previous SLK 55, with its new turbocharged V6 (362 horsepower) taking the place of the SLK 55's naturally aspirated V8. We'll miss that V8 and the authentic muscle-car character it brought to the car, but the SLC 43's performance should be very similar, if that's any consolation. Whichever SLC you choose, you'll appreciate the car's cabin, which wouldn't look out of place in more expensive Mercedes sedans, and its grand-touring-style ride comfort.
Much of that could also be said of the BMW Z4, which is the SLC's most obvious rival. You'll certainly want to compare both during your shopping process. For a sportier roadster than the SLC, check out muscular Chevrolet Corvette or the nimble-handling Porsche Boxster. Looking at a few small four-seat convertibles, such as the Audi TT and BMW 2 Series, could also be a good idea. Still, if balanced luxury and performance is what you're after, the Mercedes-Benz SLC will surely impress.
The Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class comes standard with stability and traction control, antilock brakes with automatic drying, a rearview camera, roll bars, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, Attention Assist (a driver drowsiness monitor) and Mercedes' Mbrace telematics system, which includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, and teen driver geo-fencing and speed monitoring.
Additional safety features are included in various packages. The Premium 2 package includes a blind-spot monitoring system, and the Premium 3 package includes lane departure warning and front and rear parking sensors.
trim levels & features
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class is a two-seat convertible roadster available in two trim levels that both correspond to a different engine: SLC300 and AMG SLC 43.
Standard features for the SLC300 include 17-inch alloy wheels, a power-retractable hardtop with a fixed glass roof panel, xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights and taillights, a dual-mode exhaust system, power-folding heated mirrors, automatic wipers, a rearview camera, eight-way power seats with memory functions, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, MB-Tex premium vinyl upholstery, automatic climate control, selectable driving modes and a driver information screen. Entertainment features consist of a 7-inch central display screen, Bluetooth and an eight-speaker audio system with HD radio, two USB ports and an SD card slot.
The SLC300's Premium 1 package adds remote roof operation, keyless entry and ignition, the Airscarf neck heater, heated seats, an 11-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system and satellite radio.
Stepping up to the AMG SLC 43 gets you the contents of the Premium 1 package, a more powerful engine, 18-inch wheels, larger brakes, sportier transmission tuning, a sport suspension, a sport body kit, a rear spoiler, a performance exhaust, a power-adjustable steering wheel, and leather and simulated-suede upholstery.
The AMG Handling package is unique to the SLC 43 and adds a mechanical limited-slip differential, a leather-and-simulated-suede-wrapped steering wheel and a clock designed by luxury watchmaker IWC.
Both trims have two available options packages. The Premium 2 pack includes the features from Premium 1, as well as adaptive LED headlights with automatic high-beam control, blind-spot monitoring, dual-zone climate control, an analog clock, interior ambient lighting, navigation, voice controls, a CD/DVD player and smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Premium 3 package includes all of these features, plus adjustable suspension dampers, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, front and rear parking sensors, and an automated parking system.
Some of the above items, such as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration, can be ordered separately from the packages. Several standalone options are available for both trims, such as full leather upholstery, upgraded interior trim elements and Magic Sky Control, which darkens the roof's glass panel.
The SLC300 is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Rear-wheel drive, a fuel-saving engine start-stop system, and a nine-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted shift paddles are standard. Mercedes says the SLC300 will sprint from zero to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, an average time for a small sports car with a base engine. The EPA estimates the SLC300 will return fuel economy of 27 mpg combined (25 city/32 highway).
The AMG SLC 43 is driven by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with 362 hp and 384 lb-ft. of torque on tap. It is paired to an AMG-tuned version of the nine-speed automatic and should make the sprint to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds, Mercedes says. EPA-estimated fuel economy stands at 23 mpg combined (20 city/29 highway).
Though we haven't yet sampled the 2017 SLC-Class in either form, the underlying characteristics shouldn't be much different from last year's SLK. We found that car to be reasonably athletic and quite enjoyable when going around turns. It also provided the smooth, composed ride that Mercedes drivers expect. Most roadsters can't marry the two characteristics harmoniously, though it's very much in keeping with SL family values.
As for the new powertrains, check back for our full driving impressions of the SLC300 and AMG SLC 43 at a later date.
The SLC interior bears a strong family resemblance to the layouts of both the SL and (other than its unique center stack), the AMG GT sports car. Although the SLC is by far the least expensive car of the three, you'll be hard-pressed to see where Mercedes cut costs. The buttons, switchgear and COMAND infotainment interface are virtually identical to what's offered throughout much of the Mercedes lineup, so SLC drivers will never feel like second-class Benz buyers.
One element shared with the SL is the distinctive glass roof panel that provides sunshine even when outside temperatures keep the roof up. Unfortunately, there's no retractable sunshade, and the only protection you get from a glaring sun is a light tint. In lieu of perpetually wearing a hat, we strongly recommend springing for the optional Magic Sky Control feature, which darkens the glass at the press of a button. It seems silly to get a retractable-roof roadster if the roof isn't able to block the sun.
Retracting the roof into the trunk (an entertaining sideshow in itself) uncovers a cabin that remains pleasantly calm at speed, aided by the standard fixed-glass deflector. Another feature that Mercedes pioneered is the Airscarf system, which blows warm air at neck level from clever seat-mounted vents. In the summer, meanwhile, the available sun-reflective leather guards against scorched skin, and it also slows the leather's aging process.
The main interior drawback for the SLC is that it's quite snug, even by compact roadster standards. The Z4, for example, gives larger drivers more room. On the bright side, the trunk is surprisingly accommodating for a two-door car whether the roof is up (10.1 cubic feet) or down (a still useful 6.4 cubic feet).
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
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