After 20 illustrious years, Mercedes-Benz has swapped the ‘K’ in the SLC to a ‘C’ – could the roadster that once defined an entire car category be going through a mid-life crisis? Far from it – this year, the German automobile firm acknowledges the SLK’s undeniable relationship with the C-Class, of which much of the roadster’s technology is inspired by, with visual tweaks and significantly optimised tech upgrades.
Each car in the model line up — from the economical SLC 200 to the muscled-up Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 — sees the diamond radiator grille that is synonymous with the brand, only this time more steeply raked. This standard feature elongates the arrow-shaped bonnet, giving it its striking sporty silhouette. The electro-hydraulic Vario-roof now continues to operate up to a speed of 40km/h, so you don’t have to come to a stop should untimely meteorological circumstances hit. Other creature comforts include the Airscarf (a neck-level heating system) and the above-mentioned Magic Sky Control.
Slap the AMG tag on any Mercedes-Benz car and it immediately becomes high-performance. At the heart of the AMG SLC 43 is a revvier 3.0-litre V6 biturbo engine that produces a feistier 367hp than the AMG SLK 55’s 302. The model obliges 100km/h in 4.7 seconds. Comparatively, the new entry-level SLC 180 sees an output of 156 hp. Higher up the scale is the SLC 200 and SLC 300, both equipped with a 1991 cc four-cylinder engine, which produces 184hp and 245hp respectively. In the SLC 43, the AMG Sport exhaust system reacts with two adjustable exhaust flaps to adapt the sound to one of the five modes on the Dynamic Select feature, which hooks up to the engine, transmission, steering and suspension for a customizable ride. The SLK would be so proud.
Like the latest E-class series, the SLC is chock full of new assistance and safety systems. The new Active Brake Assist (previously called a lengthier Collision Prevention Assist Plus) provides autonomous braking that reduces risks of rear-end collisions when the driver fails to react despite intermittent alerts. The LED Intelligent Light System adapts to light and driving conditions including fog and cornering situations, while the Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus adjusts between high and low beam by detecting other illuminated road users for dazzle-free continuous usage. Small children are also no longer at risk of getting injured by airbags when a pressure sensor detects the use of a child seat.
Inside, Mercedes-Benz attempts to heighten the luxury experience with aluminum trim parts and carbon fiber finishes. Contrasting red needles on black dials, as well as an improved new-generation sports steering wheel reaffirm’s the SLC’s resolution to being race-centric. The infotainment display is also significantly larger, but remains lacking in the system upgrade department. Otherwise, expect “sun-reflecting” leather upholstery that has a perforated design, or the “sun-reflecting nappa leather” option that sports contrasting piping and top-stitching with two new colourways added– saddle brown and platinum white.