Mercedes-Benz SLC (2016 – 2020) Review
Mercedes-Benz SLC (2016 – 2020) At A Glance
Insurance Groups are between 41–46
On average it achieves 78% of the official MPG figure
The Mercedes-Benz SLC offers a rare combination of a folding metal hard-top roof in a compact two-seat roadster. This makes it a rarity, when rivals like the Porsche 718 Boxster and Audi TT use a fabric roof. The SLC has a strong range of engines, plus the option of an excellent nine-speed automatic gearbox. However, the interior feels dated alongside newer models, with an old-fashioned media system. That folding roof also has a major impact on practicality, and the SLC’s driving experience is less involved than some might expect.
Mercedes-Benz kickstarted a trend for convertibles with folding metal roofs in the 1990s. In 2020, this is a tiny section of the new car market, with the SLC remaining a stalwart. The advantage of extra refinement over convertibles with fabric roofs is hard to ignore, but such luxury does come at a cost.
From the outside the SLC has all the right looks, with an imposing front grille showing off its three-pointed star badge. It certainly adds to the premium feel, and goes some way to justifying the higher price tag. The story inside is less impressive, with a button-tastic dashboard – a legacy of the SLC’s dated design.
At least the two occupants of the SLC will feel accommodated in the cabin, with plenty of room to get comfortable.
A low seating position adds to the sporting feel, and features such as cruise control and air conditioning are standard. Higher-specification models add leather seats and fancier trim, but the overall level of equipment is impressive.
Opening the boot reveals one of the SLC’s major drawbacks. A complex metal roof needs more space than the soft-tops of the Audi TT Roadster or Porsche 718 Boxster. The SLC has to store the folding parts in the space usually reserved for luggage. It means boot space with the roof down drops to a diminutive 225 litres. Owners must learn to pack light.
The benefits of the metal roof can be felt instantly when driving the SLC. With the roof raised, road noise is much lower than fabric-roofed rivals, and there is also the added security benefit of a solid top. Lowering the roof takes just 20 seconds, and refinement is still impressive when topless.
An optional Airscarf system uses vents built into the seats to blow warm air at neck level, keeping occupants cosy with the roof off.
Engine choices for the SLC range from four-cylinder turbo petrols through to a zesty twin-turbocharged V6 in the AMG SLC 43. Performance stretches from mild to wild, plus there is also a diesel option for those doing longer journeys. A six-speed manual gearbox is standard on lower models, but the impressive nine-speed automatic is worth hunting down.
Despite its bold styling and powerful engines, the SLC makes more sense as a cruiser rather than outright sports car. More enthusiastic drivers will find the steering lacking in feedback, but this is unlikely to bother the majority. A stiff ride, made worse on cars with 18-inch wheels, will be a bigger issue for those wanting a relaxing experience.
Aside from the Mazda MX-5 RF, which lacks the premium cachet of a Mercedes-Benz, the SLC is in a class of its own. If you want a classy, compact two-seat roadster with a folding metal roof, this is your only option. While it may not be perfect, the Mercedes SLC delivers exactly what those in the market for a car