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If you’ve forgotten about the Mercedes-Benz SLK, you’re not alone. Introduced in 1997 (in the U.S.) as a Porsche Boxster-BMW Z3-fighter, the SLK made Car and Driver’s 10Best list that year, thanks to its sweet supercharged V6 and then-novel standard retractable hardtop. But a polarizing Formula 1-inspired redesign in 2004 turned off many buyers, and despite offering a lively and competitive version in the AMG SLK55, the car has sunk to the bottom of a modern sports car segment dominated by the Porsche Boxster/Cayman, Chevy Corvette, and Jaguar F-Type. Mercedes hasn’t sold more than 10,000 SLKs in a single year since 2006. It hasn’t sold more than 5,000 since 2007.

But that could all change very soon, as the SLK is new for 2017 with a new look and a new name. Mercedes’ smallest roadster is now the SLC, in keeping with its emerging naming structure. In November, the company rechristened its range-topping GL-Class the GLS class, aligning its SUV stable with its iconic C-Class/E-Class/S-Class sedan range. With the SLK slotting below the SL-Class, the “C” designation makes sense. That said, don’t expect Mercedes to introduce an “SLE-Class” to fill the gap between the two anytime soon – the SLK55 already does a nice job nipping at the SL-Class’ heels.

Besides, Mercedes just unveiled the face-lifted 2017 SL-Class at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November, and with the two cars now part of the same family, the SLC now compliments its bigger sibling nicely. While neither cars are all-new (the renaming is part of their mid-cycle refreshes), the conservative but tasteful updates could go a long way in reestablishing them in their respective segments.



While the SLK was always more of a leisurely tourer outside of the AMG model, spy shots of the SLC at the Nurbürgring in November suggest it could have slightly sportier pretensions. Around the time those photos leaked, however, AMG chairman Tobias Moers told Australian website Motoring that the 415 horsepower 5.5. liter V8 found in the SLK55 will be ditched in favor of a turbocharged 3.0 liter V6. Unfortunately, the smaller mill isn’t likely to top the outgoing V8 when it comes to power. Whether or not the SLK55 name will stick around for the top model, or if the turbocharged four will see any power gains remains to be seen.

We’ll have to wait for for those answers until the SLC’s official release next month at the Detroit Auto Show, but what we do know that the cosmetic updates have brought a freshness and simplicity to the model not seen since the original ’96-’04 R170 model. Mercedes has done an admirable job bringing its entire lineup under a cohesive design umbrella, and as a result, nearly every model has benefitted aesthetically. Inside, the SLC’s cockpit is largely carried over from the current model, though it was always a comfortable and attractive place to spend time in.

From here, the rechristened SLC looks like a marked improvement over the current SLK. After all, the current model has been around since 2012, and it was never much of a looker to begin with. Add to it the car’s steep $47,000 base price and some of the most formidable competition in the automotive world, and you’ve got yourself a model that needs some help. According to Moers, the new AMG55 will be more affordable – something that bodes well for the base car too. “It’s all about regarding reasonable or fair value for the price,” he told Motoring. “We move down with the price, but we provide more value than ever.” We’re still skeptical, but we’d love to see Mercedes step up and give rivals Porsche and Jaguar a run for their money.

The 2017 SLC-Class: Mercedes?s Smallest Roadster Grows Up
 

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Cool. Now I don't have to worry about wanting another NEW car and can keep paying this one down instead of starting over on payments! Should be done next summer, a year early.

I like the new tail lamps, but that's about it. That front end is...awful. This new 'design language' that MB is using on EVERYTHING is already tired and in need of a refresh. Perhaps it's because the CLA sucked so bad?

Either way, I'm definitely keeping what I have and will enjoy 5.5 liters of normally aspirated AMG goodness.
 

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"Mercedes hasn’t sold more than 10,000 SLKs in a single year since 2006. It hasn’t sold more than 5,000 since 2007."

I have a hard time believing these numbers. No major manufacturer would keep a car in production, let alone restyling it - for 10 years selling less than 5000 per year.
 

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It fits the family and not bad looking.

I don't get the disapproval of the R171, I think it looks tidy and the Blue Badger loves the look.

Give me any slk and you'll not get it back. Proven by the money/time being spent on our current one.
 

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But a polarizing Formula 1-inspired redesign in 2004 turned off many buyers, and despite offering a lively and competitive version in the AMG SLK55, the car has sunk to the bottom of a modern sports car segment dominated by the Porsche Boxster/Cayman, Chevy Corvette, and Jaguar F-Type.
At least according to this site:
Mercedes-Benz SLK European sales figures
Mercedes-Benz SLK US car sales figures
sales of the SLK were the greatest in 2005 when the R171 came out. That is far from "turning off buyers." The author has no idea what he is talking about. Just because it may have turned him off, the rest of the car buying public disagrees.

Mercedes has done an admirable job bringing its entire lineup under a cohesive design umbrella, and as a result, nearly every model has benefitted aesthetically.
Again, all in the author's opinion, which is of dubious value unless he is an SLK owner/buyer. According to many current SLK owners and IMO, the "cohesive design umbrella" has eliminated some unique and interesting designs.
 

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"Mercedes hasn’t sold more than 10,000 SLKs in a single year since 2006. It hasn’t sold more than 5,000 since 2007."

I have a hard time believing these numbers. No major manufacturer would keep a car in production, let alone restyling it - for 10 years selling less than 5000 per year.
In the US maybe, but not worldwide.
A correct statement might be Mercedes USA hasn’t sold more than 10,000 SLKs in a single year since 2006.
 
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As I'm not actually in the market for an SLK replacement until June 2017 I'll wait and see cars in the metal before making any judgements however for an incremental facelift it looks fine to me. The roof working on the move is a huge improvement, and the other bits and pieces do move the car just that bit further into the 21st century.

The real question for me will be what happens when Audi unleash their new 250bhp/600Nm torque 2.0 TDi quattro TT because that will make the 250d look dog slow and the mooted 420bhp TTRS should destroy the SLC 43 both in a straight line and in the corners. So unless Mercedes have something else tucked up their sleeves I think this update will be out of date within 2 years. And that's a shame.
 

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@robcurs: It's nice to see someone keeping an open mind about the styling of the SLC.

@wja96: As for the new Audi TT... I took my first look at one yesterday, it's stunning... shame the roadster's got a soft top otherwise my SLK'd be history, but I like it enough that I'm seriously considering the coupe version.

... Did I really just say that about an Audi TT Coupe on the SLK forum? I think I must have indulged too much over the festive period! :smile:

Jeff: what do I have to do to make amends for such a heretic transgression? :wink:
 
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