With a few AMG-badged exceptions the first three generations of Mercedes-Benz SLK roadster have never been drivers’ cars in the mould of the Porsche Boxster, but they’ve certainly been successful. 670,000 cars down the line, the fourth generation now gets a new name: SLC.
The change is designed to position the latest car alongside the C-class in Mercedes’ range, just as the GLC does in its respective crossover niche. What hasn’t changed is the meat of the car itself – the SLC is largely a facelift of the third-generation SLK.
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Prices and specification have now been announced for the new range. UK models start with the SLC 200, priced at £30,495 on the road, rising to £46,355 for the range-topping Mercedes-AMG SLC 43.
The AMG flagship trades the old SLK 55’s V8 for a 3-litre biturbo V6. It develops 362bhp between 5500-6000rpm, with a thumping 384lb ft of torque from 2000-4200rpm. Progress should be swift, with a 4.7-second 0-62mph dash and the usual limited 155mph top speed.
Newly-developed front and rear axles underpin the AMG model, as do new engine and differential mountings. An optional handling package swaps the rear diff for a limited-slip item, also AMG Ride Control adaptive adjustable damping. Brake discs are larger than standard SLCs and a host of visual cues distinguish it from lesser models – 18-inch AMG alloy wheels, AMG body styling and several interior touches are all present and correct.
At the other end of the range, the new SLC 200 uses a 2-litre turbocharged engine with 181bhp. It comes as standard with a six-speed manual transmission (producing 150g/km of CO2 in this form) or the new 9G-Tronic automatic transmission, which drops this figure to 137g/km. The automatic model costs £1485 more than the manual, at £31,980 in Sport trim. Sport models are identifiable by 17in alloy wheels; AMG Line cars have 18in wheels.
AMG Line trim is also available on the SLC 200, starting at £34,495 for the manual and £35,980 for the auto. The 9G-Tronic transmission is standard on the 2-litre, 242bhp SLC 300, as is AMG Line trim. It's priced at £39,385 on the road.
The auto is also standard on the SLC 250d. As before, this will be the choice for those doing high mileage – CO2 emissions of 114g/km and combined economy of a claimed 64.2mpg give it supermini-style frugality. It starts at £32,995 in Sport trim, rising to £36,995 for AMG Line cars.
A Dynamic Handling package is optionally available, lowering suspension by 10mm, and adding adaptive damping. A sports exhaust system is also available on the SLC 200 (when the automatic ‘box and AMG Line or Sports trim is selected), and standard on the SLC 300.
Styling changes are subtle both inside and out. At the front there’s a new grille, revised headlights and a redesigned bumper, while the rear lights are also of a new design. Mercedes’ LED Intelligent Light System is an optional extra (for £1150), adding adaptive functions and promising daylight-style illumination.
The folding hard top – an SLK feature since the very first car – can now be operated up to 25mph. There’s also an optional automatic boot separator that splits roof and luggage space, preventing the roof opening should the boot be full.
Heated seats and the Airscarf neck-warming function are standard, with the unique Magic Sky Control roof an option – allowing occupants to lighten or darken the glass-panelled roof at the touch of a button.
The new Mercedes-Benz SLC will hit showrooms in March 2016 – 20 years on from the launch of the first-gen SLK – with orders beginning now.