Mercedes is undergoing a whole host of changes within its lineup, as it updates its styling, platforms, engines, and names. Having already updated most of its car and crossover lineup, the Germans are now rolling out the SLC and its beefed-up AMG brother. Don’t let the name fool you, this isn’t a brand-new car, but a facelift to the existing SLK roadster.The renaming of the brand’s smallest two-door is part of Mercedes’ recent strategy to highlight the close relationship of its models to the platforms they’re derived from. Since the SLK was closely related to the C-Class, Stuttgart replaced the K with the C, giving birth to the SLC. The name itself isn’t exactly new. Mercedes offered an SLC from 1971 to 1981 alongside the R107-generation SL. Distinguished by the longer wheelbase and louvered C-pillars, the SLC replaced the W111-generation coupe and was replaced by the W126 S-Class Coupe (C126).Back to our model in question, the AMG version was also renamed, receiving a new two-digit combination. Previously known as the SLK55, the performance roadster will be marketed as the SLC43 from now on. The new nomenclature also comes with a new engine, as AMG dropped the familiar naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V-8. Surprisingly enough, the new unit isn’t the 4.0-liter V-8, but you’ll have to keep reading to find out more about that.
First things first, Mercedes has launched the SLC in India in AMG 43 guise. The ‘43’ signifies this is not a full fat AMG though it is still the sportiest version of the SLC on sale. In its journey from SLK to SLC, Merc’s roadster has got a new nose. It’s not a radical change but it is very contemporary Mercedes. The grille with its diamond effect looks quite exquisite and the bumpers are pure AMG. The headlights are new too, and their LEDs constantly adjust to optimise brightness while reducing glare for oncoming traffic. There are fewer changes elsewhere but the long bonnet, short tail look still looks very classic. And doesn’t the Designo Hyacinth Metallic Red paint just look sexy? But if there’s one thing that the SLK and now the SLC will be best known for, it’s got to be the foldable hard-top roof. The roof folds and unfolds quickly enough so you can enjoy the open air experience at every opportunity the rain gods permit.As for the exteriors the Mercedes-AMG 43 gets the front sports diamond radiator grille in chrome with louvre in iridium silver and dynamically shaped air intakes with fins in silver chrome. The car also gets an AMG-specific front and rear bumpers that connects us to the performance line from the German automaker. Additionally, the roadster also comes with LED headlamps with ILS and integrated DRLs and turn indicators. The rear section features new LED taillights, silver chrome on rear bumper, AMG sports exhaust system with two chrome-plated tailpipes and swept-back boot lid with brake lamp in the rear spoiler lip.
On the inside, the car features a multifunction, flat-bottomed steering wheel draped in nappa leather, with red contrast stitching for a premium ambience. The sports seats get AMG nappa leather/Dinamica microfibre upholstery and in the driver’s line-of-vision is an AMG instrument cluster that includes a 4.5-inch multi-information display (MID) with a race-timer provided as well. For entertainment, the car is offered with a 7-inch infotainment system that supports Bluetooth connectivity, a DVD player, Internet radio and the ‘Linguatronic’ voice command system.Mercedes – Benz AMG SLC 43 interiors feature a cabin that has black upholstery with contrasting red top stitching. There is a Nappa leather multi-functional sports steering wheel while the cabin also features ambient lighting. The infotainment system features Smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay along with Google Android Auto. There is also an Audio 20 CD, including pre-installation for Garmin Map Pilot.Well, if you’ve not been in an SLK ever before you might have a better opinion of the SLC’s cabin than us. It’s no bad place to be but the thing is the dashboard is a straight carryover from the SLK and as they say familiarity breeds contempt. There is fresher detailing here and there, but elements like the button-heavy central console look outdated today, partly because we’ve seen something similar on so many Mercs before. Still, the trim is sporty, the sports seats are supportive and there’s nice red stitching all over. There is a new infotainment system on the SLC and though not the most intuitive of systems around, it does get satellite navigation and Apple CarPlay.
Under the hood is where the SLC43 got the most important update, in the form of a new engine. The big news here is that AMG not only dropped the naturally aspirated, 5.5-liter V-8, but replaced it with a V-6, making the SLC43 the second current AMG model to not use an eight- or 12-cylinder powerplant (the A45 uses a four-cylinder), and the first V-6-powered AMG in more than a decade. The last AMG to employ a V-6 was also an SLK, the SLK32 offered between 2001 and 2004.The new unit is a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6 that seems similar to the C450 AMG, which isn’t a full-blown AMG model. However, AMG claims to have tuned the engine management software and increased boost. As far as numbers go, the powerplant cranks out 362 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 384 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm. That’s 54 horsepower and 14 pound-feet of twist less than the previous model, which also translates into slower acceleration times. While the SLK55 needed 4.5 seconds to hit 60 mph, the SLC43 will do the same in 4.6 ticks. Granted, it’s not like a tenth of a second will make much of a difference, but you’re probably asking why AMG detuned the roadster.
Well, it’s all about efficiency. Although EPA numbers aren’t yet available, Mercedes claims the SLC43 is not only more efficient than its predecessor, but also the most efficient six-cylinder roadster on the market. Given that the previous model returned up to 28 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in the city, the SLC43 should be good for at least 31 mpg highway and 22 mpg city to make a difference.The power routes to the wheels through a 9G-Tronic sport transmission with double-declutching function on downshifts. Though less powerful, the roadster should handle better thanks to its bespoke front and rear axles with new elastokinematics, stiffer mountings for engine and rear-axle gear unit. Optionally, the SLC43 can be equipped with the AMG Ride Control sport suspension with adjustable damping, which was designed for high lateral acceleration and reduced roll. The options list also includes a rear-axle limited-slip differential, which improves traction and handling. Stopping power is provided by a high-performance braking system with larger brake discs.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
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.Fun as it is on a quick drive, the SLC also works surprisingly well in everyday conditions. Ground clearance, for one, is sufficient for average-sized speedbreakers. This is an AMG so the ride is on the firmer side, but again it’s not back-breakingly bad. But on the rough stuff, you can tell the SLC 43 isn’t the most rigid of convertibles around. It doesn’t feel as tight as something like a Porsche Boxster for instance. There is that typical convertible scuttle shake that you get and, at times, the SLC 43, for all its improvements, does feel like a newer version of what is now a fairly old car.
SAFETY FEATURES ;
Safety is still a priority in the SLC-Class roadster with its standard Active Brake Assist, which warns the driver of a potential collision and can apply the brake in an effort to reduce the impact or avoid it altogether. ATTENTION ASSIST, dual roll bars, NECK-PRO head restraints, Electronic Stability Program (ESP), and a rearview camera are also standard. Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist are available safety features, in addition to Dynamic LED Headlamps that automatically provide optimum visibility when cornering on tricky roads and highways, all without creating glare for other drivers.Benz AMG SLC 43 features AMG high performance braking system where all the wheels come with internally-ventilated perforated brake discs, which gives excellent and precise braking at all times. Since it is a Mercedes, you don’t expect anything short of the best. In terms of safety as well, the Mercedes – Benz AMG SLC 43 is fully loaded and features all the typical necessary equipment. You can choose from the AMG package that works best for you and customize your vehicle to suit your needs.
Mercedes has launched the SLC 43 at Rs 77.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). That’s nearly half a crore cheaper than the older SLK 55’s price! And to think the two cars offer similar performance. Seen in light of the SLK 55, then, the SLC 43 comes across as a steal. However, the SLC 43’s pricing also puts it in the same price band as the BMW Z4 and the upcoming Porsche 718 Boxster. So the question really is, ‘Is the SLC 43 the best Rs 80-odd lakh convertible you can buy?’ While it’s hard to give a definitive verdict without a full-blown comparison, the SLC 43 has come in at a time when the BMW Z4 has started to feel a bit long in the tooth and the Boxster’s controversial move to a four-cylinder, 2.0-litre engine could turn away buyers. In effect, the SLC 43 with its refreshed exteriors, more feature-packed cabin, V6 engine and foldable hard-top may not be the best of the convertibles, but it could just be the most complete.