Among the pure sports car models offered by Mercedes-Benz, the SLC 43 is “entry level,” but don’t get any ideas about this being some kind of poor relation in the family. The SLC, especially in the AMG guise my tester featured, is fast, nimble and very good to look at.
Just as a reminder, the SLC range succeeds the earlier SLK models that have been around for many years. The SLK was one of the very first production sportsters to feature a fully retractable metal roof, rather than a fabric top. The 2017 SLC carries on this tradition. When the top is down, this is a fully open roadster, but with it closed, it becomes a weather-tight and cozy small coupe. Retracting the roof is a swift operation, carried out using a lever that hides under a pop-up cover on the central console. It’s very tidy and easy to use.
The SLC is a beautifully car and boasts many of the detail features you’ll find on more expensive Mercedes-Benz sports cars. Some of these have been picked up from the legendary Mercedes sports racing cars of the 1950s. It’s a fairly short car as far as the bodywork goes, but it does have a fairly decent trunk that will easily handle a couple’s luggage for a road trip. Although a lot of the roof folds into the trunk area, there’s still plenty of room in there.
Older SLK AMGs used V-8 power but the 2017 car has switched to a twin turbo V-6. The 3.0-litre unit in the AMG model I drove produces 362-horsepower, more than enough for any driver, especially given today’s busy road conditions. The old V-8 and a little more horsepower, but the new arrangement makes far more sense when it come to real-world driving. The V-6 mates to a 9-speed automatic transmission – yes, that’s nine speeds! The engine makes all the appropriate noises and hearing the drivetrain working its way through all those gears is a delight. Using the now ubiquitous steering wheel paddles, the transmission can be shifted manually. This is a very nimble car and can be driven through tight turns quicker than many a more powerful sports car. I had some track experience with the earlier SLK AMG and it really impressed me.
The cockpit is very snug and the car is designed purely for two occupants. There’s nothing behind the hip-hugging front seats except, perhaps, room to throw a light jacket or a sweater. As with all Mercedes-Benz products, the interior is a joy to work in with outstanding fit and finish and a satisfying feel to all the controls – and there are lots. My test car had some great-looking carbon fibre trim items here and there. Out on the road, the car is enormous fun, even at legal speeds. An early morning drive on the Sea-to-Sky highway would be an exciting run, even sticking to the speed limits, especially with the top down. I was very impressed with the brakes on the SLC.
There are a number of competitors for this model out there, but few can match or exceed the SLC AMG and few have the remarkable history of the Mercedes-Benz brand behind them. For many buyers, the big three-pointed star on the elegant grille is all the excuse they need.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Two-seat sports convertible
ENGINE: 3.0-litre twin turbocharged V-6
TRANSMISSION: 9-speed automatic
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 3.8-secs
FUEL ECONOMY: Not available yet
PRICE: Base $60,300 MSRP