Review: Mercedes-Benz SLC (2016)

Rating:

New name for revamped SLK, decent sized and useable boot for a folding hard top. Mightily impressive claimed 70mpg from SLC 250 d. AMG 43 sounds terrific.

A revamp rather than a new model. Cabin started to feel dated. Expensive list prices alongside Audi TT.

Recently Added To This Review

5 December 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC Final Edition priced from £37,120

The Mercedes-Benz SLC Final Edition is now on sale, with prices starting from £37,120 for the SLC 200 Final Edition and £40,916 for the SLC 200 Final Edition Premium. The AMG SLC 43 Final Edition... Read more

26 July 2019

Complaint of poor panel fit and poor satnav instructions in 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC that apparently uses Garmin technology. Read more

8 May 2017 SLC 180 AMG introduced

The SLC 180 AMG Line has been added to the SLC range, with prices starting from £32,039 OTR. The SLC 180 features a turbo-charged 1.6-litre petrol engine producing 156PS and 250Nm. It can accelerate... Read more

Mercedes-Benz SLC (2016): At A Glance

It may have a new name, but we doubt it will come as shock to you to discover that the SLC is essentially a revamped version of the SLK. Hopefully you didn't need a spoiler alert there, but is it more than just a new badge?

Well there's been a slight redesign on the outside and some interior tweaks but the main changes are under the skin. There's a new nine-speed automatic gearbox replacing the older 7G-Tronic and the big V8 from the AMG has been dropped, replaced by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo badged AMG SLC 43.

The SLK received a lukewarm reception when it was launched in 2011 so Mercedes-Benz needs to make some significant changes if it wants to compete with the most complete two-seater convertible around - the Audi TT. So how does it fare?

Well the exterior redesign makes the SLC look more like its SL counterpart, but the changes to the interior can't hide the fact that the cabin is starting to feel distinctly dated. Especially compared to other Mercedes-Benz cars like the excellent E-Class. And alongside the Audi TT it's button heavy and quite clunky in its operation.

So does it redeem itself when it comes to road manners? Well it's somewhat of a mixed bag. The ride is decent for a convertible but tends to lack finesse over poorer quality surfaces and while it's very well poised in corners, the SLC leaves you feeling a little cold and unconnected to the whole driving experience. It handles very well but is all a little clinical.

The SLC is also expensive when compared to the competition. The entry-level model is £1000 more than an equivalent Audi TT, albeit the TT gets a fabric hood rather than the folding metal roof of the SLC. It's more competitive alongside the BMW Z4 - a car which also has a folding top - but the Z4 is a far more enjoyable driver's car.

In isolation, the SLK is a decent convertible with the neat handling and folding metal hard top being big selling points. Of course having a three-pointed star on the grille doesn't do it any harm either - it's indeed a very desirable thing. But it's not a car that's ever that enjoyable or engaging to drive and ultimately the competition from Audi and BMW does it better.

Mercedes-Benz SLC 250 d 2016 Road Test

What does a Mercedes-Benz SLC (2016) cost?

List Price from £32,774
Buy new from £25,356
Contract hire from £317.99 per month
Get a finance quote with CarMoney

Mercedes-Benz SLC (2016): What's It Like Inside?

Dimensions
Length 4133–4143 mm
Width 2006 mm
Height 1301–1303 mm
Wheelbase 2430 mm

Full specifications

The SLC may have a new name but the interior is beginning to show its age – especially compared to the latest C-Class and E-Class models.

The central dash is arranged much like it was in the 2007 C-Class – including dated features like a numeric keypad, despite the advent of voice control via Bluetooth. There's no touchscreen here either, it's all done with a dial.

That's not to say it's without nice details, such as the new small gear selector replacing the clunky old-fashioned gear lever from the SLK, plus there's a new steering wheel. Certain features remain like the analogue clock on the dash top and the stylish circular vents. However, the SLC can't hide the fact it's feeling distinctly last generation. 

On the plus side, the electrically operated folding hard top has been improved. Provided the process is started when stationary, the roof will now continue folding on the move at up to around 25mph – perfect in traffic. Cleverly, it will also automatically drop down the luggage cover if you've forgotten to do so – though if luggage isn’t placed correctly the process will abort and you’ll have to get out and rearrange things.

The boot is around 285 litres with the luggage area protector out of the way, but space is cut to 180 litres if you want to travel with the roof down. It's fairly useable though and there's enough room for a couple of small cases.

The interior is fairly 'snug' but there's enough room even for six-footers. Although one annoyance is that with the seats pushed all the way back, they rub and squeak against the rear panel, something which soon tests your patience especially if you're going round lots of corners. 

Standard equipment from launch

Sport models have re-designed halogen headlights with integrated LED daytime running lights, new sports exhaust system (standard with 9G-TRONIC on SLC 200 and SLC 300), sports pedals, LED tail lights, Active Brake Assist, Attention Assist, Active Bonnet, chrome-plated twin exhaust system, remote boot lid release and Headlamp Assist. Sport models come with 17-inch five-spoke alloy wheels (18-inch five-twin spoke alloy wheels are optionally available for £995).

AMG Line adds AMG Line styling details, 18-inch multi-spoke alloy wheels, sports brake system, sports suspension, AMG Velour floor mats, flat-bottom steering wheel and leather upholstery.

SLC 43 AMG models gain AMG-specific styling, a rear limited slip differential, AMG brakes and steering and an AMG sports exhaust. 

Options include an airguide wind deflector package, dynamic handling package with variable damping, lane tracking and driver assistance package.

Child seats that fit a Mercedes-Benz SLC (2016)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Mercedes-Benz SLC (2016) like to drive?

The cheapest model in the range is the SLC 200 - it's the same engine carried over from the SLK with 184PS. It's also the only model with a manual gearbox but in truth the SLC is a car that's much more suited to an automatic gearbox.

There's now a nine-speed automatic replacing the 7G-Tronic of the SLK. This may seem like overkill, and indeed you do have to wonder why you need nine gears, but the gearbox does work well in the SLC with very rapid changes, while more often than not, it selects the right gear without hunting around.

The turbocharged 2.0-litre engine in the SLC 200 is also used in the SLC 300 - sadly it's not a six-cylinder as the name would suggest. Instead you get more power from the same engine with 245PS plus an increase in torque, up from 300Nm to 370Nm. 

If it's performance you want however, the top model is AMG SLC 43. Powered by a 3.0-litre V6 biturbo engine with 367PS (yes the badges now have very little to do with actual engine size anymore) this is a new generation of Mercedes-Benz AMG models.

So it effectively replaces the V8-powered SLK 55 AMG and while the smaller engine may not have the same character, it still sounds superb, especially when you stick it in Sport mode, with a lovely howl from the sports exhaust under acceleration. 

Sport (and Sport+) modes are part of Dynamic select, which is standard across the range. These modes also quicken the already rapid gearshifts, improve throttle response and alter the steering, the idea being to make this feel like a proper performance coupe.

It is certainly quick enough with a 0-62mph time of 4.7 seconds and handles corners superbly with incredible grip and body control. Thanks to the folding hard top there's no flex in the body either, meaning you can push it into slow or fast corners with lots of confidence.

But while the SLC is technically very good it's not without its flaws. The steering feels over assisted and artificial while the ride is always just a little too firm, especially noticeable on poor quality roads. 

Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the lack of engagement. The SLC is a car you know is very good, yet you never really connect with it. That wouldn't be a problem if this was a family hatch, but when you buy a two-seater convertible, you surely want some sense of occasion and excitement. And the SLC feels quite lacking, as compared to something like a BMW Z4.

There is however one saving grace for the SLC. The 250 d model. Now ordinarily a diesel convertible wouldn't float our boat - and indeed this is nothing to get too excited about with the usual diesel noise hardly the nicest sound with the roof down. But thanks to plenty of torque (500Nm to be exact) it's surprisingly quick.

But what really stands out is economy. Mercedes-Benz claim it will return 70.6mpg. Yes that's not a typo. Will you see that? Unlikely, but as Real MPG shows, owners of the SLK with the same engine were still seeing around 45mpg. It also has emissions of just 114g/km. That means if it's registered prior to April 2017 you'll be paying just £30 a year tax for your posh Mercedes-Benz. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
AMG SLC 43 35–36 mpg 4.7 s 178–186 g/km
SLC 180 44–45 mpg 7.9–8.1 s 132–133 g/km
SLC 200 40–44 mpg 7.0 s 150 g/km
SLC 200 Automatic 42–48 mpg 6.9 s 137 g/km
SLC 250 d Automatic 71 mpg 6.6 s 114 g/km
SLC 300 Automatic 40 mpg 5.8 s 138 g/km

Real MPG average for a Mercedes-Benz SLC (2016)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance

78%

Real MPG

25–62 mpg

MPGs submitted

36

Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Mercedes-Benz SLC (2016)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What steel-roof convertible would you recommend with reasonable running costs?

I'm looking at buying a convertible under £25,000 that is comfortable on the motorway, fun to drive with reasonable running costs and ideally a steel folding roof to cut down on motorway noise. I think the choice is between a Mercedes-Benz SLK or BMW Z4. Is there anything else to consider? What is your recommendation?
They are the only 2 seaters with electric folding hard tops. Z4 tested here (a while ago): http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/bmw/bmw-z4-sdrive-2009-road-test/ Carbycar entry and updates here: http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/carbycar/bmw/z4-2009/ Confusingly Mercedes-Benz changed the name of the SLK to SLC and a diesel version of that is tested here: http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/mercedes-benz/mercedes-benz-slc-250d-2016-road-test/ I simply can't imagine driving a diesel sportscar so for me it would have to be petrol and probably the BMW. The other contender is Mazda's new MX-5 RF: http://www.honestjohn.co.uk/road-tests/mazda/mazda-mx-5-rf-2017-road-test/
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