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2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader May 2017

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class takes over from the SLK. It's a change of name more than anything, following the company's new formula of stating the platform on which its vehicles are based. In this instance, it's the C-Class.

Otherwise, it's still the compact 2-seater with a retractable hardtop that we've all come to know and perhaps love. It's not the sharpest-handling premium roadster (the more expensive Porsche 718 Boxster probably takes that accolade), but it's still talented in the dynamics department. And it has an air of luxury that seems so appropriate for a Mercedes-Benz.

What's New for 2017?

As well as the new name, some styling revisions have also been applied. And the range now consists of two variants (the 2016 SLK had three), with features introduced and/or redistributed accordingly. New standard equipment includes a revised instrument cluster, a sport steering wheel and a 7-inch display. Active LED headlights and ambient cabin lighting join the options list.

What We Like

Marvelous retractable hardtop; great engines; unruffled high-speed demeanor; capable handling; high-quality interior; great fuel economy; Magic Sky Control

What We Don't

Limited occupant space, even for a compact; a lightly used SL is about the same price

How Much?

$48,875-$61,225

Fuel Economy

The SLC 300 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque. This is linked to a 9-speed automatic transmission and drive goes solely to the rear wheels.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fuel consumption is estimated at an incredibly reasonable 25 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 27 mph in combined driving.

The new 2017 Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 developing 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft pf torque. This also has a 9-speed automatic transmission tuned by AMG (the high-performance division of Mercedes-Benz) for quicker shifts. Every other AMG vehicle using this engine has all-wheel drive; the SLC 43 is the only one where it drives just the rears. Fuel use is estimated to be 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class comes in SLC 300 and AMG SLC 43 versions.

The SLC 300 ($48,875) has 17-in alloy wheels, a glass panel in the folding roof, LED running lights/taillights, rain-sensing wipers, simulated leather upholstery, heated/power-folding side mirrors, 8-way power-adjustable seats with memory settings, drive-mode selection, a rearview camera, a 7-in display, and an 8-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, two USB ports, SD card reader and HD Radio.

The first options bundle is called, unsurprisingly, the Premium 1 package. This brings keyless entry/ignition, remote control of the folding hardtop, Airscarf (a neck-warming feature that uses vents built into the seats), heated seats, satellite radio and a Harman Kardon 11-speaker Surround Sound system.

This is all standard in the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 ($61,225). But this variant also has the bigger engine and stronger brakes, plus aerodynamic additions, a sport-tuned suspension, a sport exhaust system, 18-in AMG-design alloy wheels, some real leather in the upholstery and powered adjustment for the steering column.

This model is eligible for the AMG Handling package, which brings a mechanical limited-slip differential. This bundle also includes an IWC-designed analog clock and a steering wheel wrapped in a mix of leather and synthetic suede. They don't have anything to do with handling, but help justify the extra money.

Both variants are eligible for the Premium 2 package of active LED headlights with automatic high-beams, dual-zone automatic climate control, ambient cabin lighting, navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, voice control and blind spot monitoring. Premium 3 has all the contents of the first two packages, plus driver aids like adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance, parking sensors front and rear, along with a self-parking feature and an adjustable suspension.

A cool option is Magic Sky Control, which turns the glass panel in the roof transparent or opaque with the touch of a button. It's well worth having, since there isn't a sunshade for the regular glass panel. Special leather upholstery that reflects the sun's rays is also available.

Total trunk space is an adequate 10.1 cu ft., which contracts to 6.4 cu ft. when the roof is stowed away.

Safety

The SLC-Class comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, 10 airbags, active headrests, aluminum roll bars behind the headrests and a driver-drowsiness monitor. An array of advanced driver aids (mentioned above) is optional.

Each SLC also comes with the Mbrace2 safety telematics suite, which connects the car, a computer and/or a compatible smartphone to both cloud-based and GPS technology for faster emergency-response times.

Like many luxury vehicles, the SLK has not been subjected to crash tests by any American agencies.

Behind the Wheel

At speed, the SLC could almost pass for an SL, it's so stable and composed. And the cabin materials are similarly upscale. Unlike its big brother, though, the SLC also feels at home on twisty roads, attacking corners with enthusiasm.

Over rough surfaces, the SLC's short wheelbase can't reach ultimate levels of comfort, but structural rigidity is exemplary, so the top can come down (which it does in under 20 seconds at speeds of up to 25 mph) without any worry about shakes and rattles. Mercedes-Benz also has decades of experience with convertible aerodynamics, so there's minimal wind buffeting. Keep the top up and the SLC turns into a luxury cruiser, allowing normal conversation even at higher speeds.

Steering feel hasn't always been great in the old SLK, but the SLC 43's system is wonderfully responsive and provides excellent feel for what the front wheels are doing. Naturally, the superior thrust from this engine is also a welcome sensation.

 Other Cars to Consider

2017 Audi TT -- The regular version comes in coupe or roadster form, while the hot 292-hp TTS (there's a hotter TT RS coming in 2018 with 400 hp) only comes with a fixed roof. But the tech is impressive and so is the driving experience.

2017 BMW 2 Series -- Available as a small coupe or convertible. Superb driving manners meets high class.

2017 Chevrolet Camaro -- Seriously, the Camaro's range of engines and superb suspension makes this a contender even if it doesn't have the cachet of something exotic and German. Again, like the rest of these alternatives, it's a choice between a soft- or hardtop. That's what makes the SLC so compelling.

2017 Porsche 718 Boxster -- The Boxster uses a soft top, so it does not have the SLC's serene character when the roof is up. But serenity is hardly the point of a Porsche. Updated for the 2017 model year.

Used Mercedes-Benz SL-Class -- Along with the company's big luxury sedans, the SL-Class is the car that really means "Mercedes-Benz." It's gone beyond class and status symbolism to become an icon.

Autotrader's Advice

Although there's nothing wrong with the SLC 300, the AMG SLC 43 has to be the top pick. A well-considered amount of power in a nimble and fairly light body is a perfect formula for fun. And this is supposed to be a fun car.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class: New Car Review - Autotrader