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2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class Review

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class is a luxury roadster similar to the iconic Mercedes-Benz SL, but it’s a compact version. Hence the SLC initials.

It’s the only car in its class to come with a power-retractable hard top as standard, something that has always set this car apart even when it was the SLK. It also has an air of effortless class and luxury that seems absolutely appropriate for a Mercedes-Benz. And there are other reasons why the SLC is a remarkable ride.

Although it’s not the sharpest-handling premium roadster (the more expensive Porsche 718 Boxster probably takes that accolade), it’s still talented in the dynamics department. And let’s be subjective for a moment and say the SLC looks good. Even though is has that folding roof, the rear section doesn’t look awkward and out of proportion with the rest of the car. With the roof down and stowed away, the lines are still pleasing. And the nose is just the right length, enough to be sporty but not trying too hard.

What’s New for 2019?

The SLC 43 gains another 23 horsepower, plus dual-zone climate control and active LED headlamps with automatic high beams as standard. Some changes in the options list have also taken place. See the 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class models for sale near you

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?

$49,945 to $64,895

Fuel Economy

The SLC 300 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 241 hp 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 23 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 27 mph in combined driving.

The 2019 Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 comes with a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 developing 385 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque, going to the rear wheels. This also has a 9-speed automatic transmission, tuned by AMG (the high-performance division of Mercedes-Benz) for quicker shifts. Fuel use is estimated to be 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class comes in SLC 300 and AMG SLC 43 versions.

The SLC 300 ($49,945) has 17-in alloy wheels, glass panel in the folding roof, mirror-logo headlamps, 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 sport exhaust system, a rearview camera, a 7-in display, and an 8-speaker audio system with Bluetooth, two USB ports, and an HD radio.

An optional Premium package for the SLC 300 brings keyless entry/ignition, remote control of the folding hardtop, Airscarf (a neck-warming feature that uses vents built into the seats), heated seats, blind spot monitoring and satellite radio. Active LED headlights with automatic high beams, an adjustable suspension and blind spot monitoring are also available.

The Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 ($64,895) has the contents of the Premium package as standard, along with the bigger engine and stronger brakes, plus aerodynamic additions, sport-tuned suspension, 18-in AMG-design alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, active LED headlamps with automatic high beams, some real leather in the upholstery, blind spot monitoring, and powered adjustment for the steering column.

The SLC 43 is eligible for AMG Ride Control, a more sophisticated sport suspension. And the AMG Handling package, which brings a mechanical limited-slip rear differential, along with an IWC-designed analog clock, and a sport steering wheel wrapped with a mix of leather and synthetic suede. These latter items don’t help with handling, but help justify the extra money.

Both variants are eligible for an analog dashboard clock, navigation, ambient cabin lighting, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, parking assistance, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and a few cosmetic additions.

One cool option for both models is Magic Sky Control, which turns the glass panel in the roof transparent or opaque by the touch of a button. It’s well worth having since there isn’t a sunshade for the regular glass panel.

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.

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, 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 during this car’s history (which goes back to the 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

2019 Audi TT — The regular version comes in coupe or roadster form, while the hot 292-hp TTS (there’s also a hotter TT RS with 400 hp) only comes with a fixed roof. But the tech is impressive and so is the driving experience.

2019 BMW Z4 — The name is familiar, but this is a whole new 2-seater roadster. With a soft top. Arriving spring 2019, it could be a little too enthusiast-oriented compared with an SLC.

2019 Chevrolet Camaro — Seriously, the Camaro’s range of engines and excellent 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 hard or soft top. That’s what makes the SLC so compelling.

2019 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.

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

The AMG SLC 43 is going to be the more entertaining version and probably more desirable when the time comes to sell. Find a Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class for sale

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