Real-World Review

2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC300: Real World Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by James Riswick August 2016

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC300 is an all-new name added to the Mercedes family, but the car it's attached to is a mild refresh of the roadster formerly known as the SLK. Besides the new moniker, Mercedes' compact 2-seat convertible gains revised styling, a bigger infotainment screen, additional safety features (including standard automatic emergency braking) and a new steering wheel design. The high-performance model, known as the AMG SLC 43, has a new turbocharged V6 in place of the old SLK55's V8.

We had the chance to live with the SLC300 for a week to see what it's like to drive in the real world. Here's what we thought.

The Roof Still Impresses

When the SLK first appeared in the 1990s, the world stood back in awe as its hardtop roof origamied itself into the trunk. Two decades later, it still stands as one of the newly rechristened SLC's greatest features, but there've been improvements, such as its ability to operate at speeds up to 25 miles per hour (great for when the light turns green midoperation). Our testers, however, appreciated the standard glass roof panel.

"The highlight from the interior was the glass roof that brightens up the cabin," noted one tester. "It felt like you had more room than you really did."

Then again, lowering the roof nearly eliminates what is otherwise one of the biggest trunks for a vehicle of its size.

A Cramped Cabin With Questionable Quality

It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that a 2-seat roadster isn't the most spacious vehicle in the world, but the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC300 isn't as good as some others.

"The interior is tight and uncomfortable," wrote one test driver. "With the seat all the way back, I still felt like I could use another inch or two of space. Also, with the seat fully back, it would squeak against the back of the cabin."

These concerns were echoed by another tester, who noted that he, too, had the seat pushed all the way back to the bulkhead, despite being at a perfectly average height of 5-foot-10. He also noted that the driver's-side rear quarter window stopped functioning during the test.

Not as Fun to Drive as Expected

The turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is competent and moves the SLC300 nicely when needed, but otherwise it's a bit underwhelming for a car with some sporting pretensions. It doesn't sound especially sporty, and a more aggressive exhaust would've been appreciated. Perhaps the AMG SLC 43 is the remedy this car needs.

We were generally impressed with its cornering ability and its ability to soften the jolts caused by running over potholes. One tester found the SLC300 to be sportier to drive than the Mazda MX-5 Miata.

Sticker Shock

Our SLC300 hit the register at more than $64,000 with options. Even at its base price of nearly $48,000, that's a huge amount of money to spend on such a small car with relatively modest performance potential. It's really no surprise that luxury roadsters such as the SLC and BMW Z4 have seen their sales plummet as their prices rise. For roughly the same amount of money as our test car, you could actually buy the more luxurious 4-seat E-Class Cabriolet and, without question, the upcoming C-Class Cabriolet.

Our Take

We wanted to like the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC300, but it ultimately underwhelmed us. One tester put it best when he noted, "Overall, this is a nice vehicle, but for the same money, I could purchase a Porsche 718 Boxster. It gives you more in the way of space, power and drivability."

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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 SLC300: Real World Review - Autotrader