We will never doubt our spy photographer ever again. Yesterday, we showed you images of the new SLC unmasked and told you it might get its official launch by midnight Central European time.
And, guess what, that’s precisely what happened. Mercedes-Benz finally took the wraps off its facelifted roadster, and while the car does look considerably more modern than before, it’s not all great news.
We’ll skip right to where it hurts the most just to get it out of our system. The pre-facelift R172 roadster had an AMG version that went by the name of SLK55 AMG. The new SLC too gets the AMG badge, but now it’s called AMG SLC43.
So what, it’s only numbers? Well, no, it’s not. If the old version used a 5.5-liter V8 engine developing 421 hp and 540 Nm (398 lb-ft), the new one has the same engine as the C450 AMG, namely a 3.0-liter bi-turbo V6 good for 367 PS and 520 Nm (383 lb-ft). Calling it a full-blown AMG model won’t actually make it one, Mercedes. Who do you think you’re fooling?
But if you manage to get over the fact that you’re basically being cheated and the less spectacular sound, the lighter engine and its similar performance figures might actually make an interesting drive out of the Mercedes-AMG SLC43. God, it will take us some time to get used to this totally arbitrary name. However, the on-paper numbers don’t stack up in its favor: the AMG SLC43 takes 4.7 seconds to reach 100 km/h (62 mph) from a standstill, while the SLK55 AMG only needed 4.6 seconds.
If we’re on the subject of engines, it’s worth noting that besides the AMG version, the new SLC comes with just four other models. The least powerful is also the only one not using a two-liter engine - it’s the SLC180 with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder turbo churning out 156 hp and 250 Nm (184 lb-ft) from as low as 1,200 rpm. Higher in the pecking order sit the SLC200 with 184 hp and the SLC300 with 245 hp. Finally, there’s also a diesel version called SLC250 d that offers 204 hp and nearly as many torques as the AMG SLC43 - 500 Nm (369 lb-ft).
Regarding transmission, the top three models - SLC250 d, SLC300 and AMG SLC43 - come standard with the new 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission, while the other two models can get it as an option over the standard six-speed manual. Using the DYNAMIC SELECT feature, the car’s parameters (engine, transmission, steering and suspensions) can be adjusted on the fly and go from comfort to sporty, depending on the situation or the driver’s preferences.
The exterior design of the new SLC has changed just the right amount to make the car look fresh, able to soldier on for another four or maybe even five years. The most obvious is the front end where the new radiator grille kept the same overall shape but has a different mesh design, while the bumper down below has been completely redesigned to feature a more aggressive look and larger air intakes.
At the rear, the SLC also features a new bumper design with side air vents and an air diffuser with integrated tailpipe design. We’re not so crazy about that last part, as from some angles you can see the actual tailpipe behind the nice-looking mask and it’s not glorious at all.
The interior is trying to save the appearances, but considering the clean layout of the more modern Mercedes-Benz models, it shows it belongs in the past. It’s true it still has plenty of company - the SL, GLE, GLS and the whole range of compact cars related to the A-Class still feature it - but it looks dated. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if we didn’t have the C-Class to compare it with, but that’s the price you have to pay for having more beautiful relatives.
So, all in all, the SLC means a big step forward for the SLK and a huge leap sideways (and maybe even some baby steps backwards) for the SLK55 AMG. Mercedes-Benz is downsizing, and that’s OK, but it's not completely honest about it. But it’s fine because we're not either when we say we like it.
2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC Is Officially Here, but Hides a Nasty Surprise