Mercedes-Benz design has come a long way over the past several years, and the team behind the SLC has done their best to keep this roadster looking fresh. The tweaks are the most successful—or, shall we say, present—at the snout, where there’s a more upright and rounded yet more open grille, inset with chromed points and combined with some more chiseled lower bodywork. Altogether, it could make you suspect that the hoodline has been propped up just a bit in front (it hasn’t). In the side profile, very little has changed, while at the rear new taillamps and a new bumper (actually just some new curves to the plastic covering it) barely step out.
Fresh here and there, but dated inside
As well as the exterior manages to remain elegant and nicely sculpted, the interior is where the SLC simply fails to reach the swoopy, curvaceous, and meticulously detailed highs that have been introduced for the latest versions of the C-Class sedans and GLC crossovers, as well as the smaller CLA and GLA models.
2017 Mercedes-AMG SLC43Enlarge Photo
The flat-bottom steering-wheel makes the best attempt to initially convince you that what’s ahead of the driver is fresh; but bring your field of focus ahead of it and there’s not much more to usher the look forward. Mercedes-Benz has upgraded the infotainment screen to 7-inch hardware, yet it remains embedded within the dash, at a time when other Mercedes models have screens that are tablet-like standalone affairs. There’s just a little more brightwork for the buttons, and a few other minor changes like dark gauge facing and some new colors and textures.
As it is, these two cars sound completely different. The SLC, at first blush, puttering around town, sounds a slight bit like the old SLK230 (Kompressor); it’s restrained and mechanical, and the more conservative top-down types are going to appreciate how it’s not too boisterous. The SLC43, on the other hand, can sound a little too boy-racer in Sport+ mode, where exhaust flaps open up a little more—too much, perhaps, for daily driving.
2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC300Enlarge Photo
Going through a tunnel in an SLC300, next to an SLC43, the SLC300 sounds restrained, mechanical, and somewhat buzzy, while the SLC43 truly broke out in song, to the point that it drowned everything else out.
Drivability the greatest asset
Yet we can’t emphasize enough how docile and drivable both of these models are in dense traffic, or forgivable when you lose focus on the right line around a corner, momentarily distracted by stunning views of Monte Carlo.
And then there’s the superb Airscarf system, which pipes just the right amount of hot air onto your neck to keep you warm, with the heated seats, on a cool morning. It’s not a new feature for Mercedes-Benz, but it continues to be absolutely charming in this small roadster, combined with impressive wind buffeting for such a short vehicle.
Options on the SLC include ambient lighting, a Magic Sky Control automatic-tinting glass system, parking assist, adaptive highbeam assist, and dynamic LED headlamps.
2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC300Enlarge Photo
Through its entire life so far, the SLC and SLK have kept closely to the same template. While these new models don’t push to new ground, they hit a relative sweet spot and realize the potential of the current generation of this roadster—the SLC300 as a responsive year-round touring roadster, and the SLC43 for a more nimble car that from the driver’s seat is almost a full-fledged sports car.
It’ll never quite be one or the other, though. Heritage is its own burden, and for the SLC there’s the double expectation of being a scaled-down counterpart to the SL, and keeping to its format.
As such, the SLC is probably never going to be a clean-slate roadster; but look to the latest C-Class, and we expect some very good things for this model’s future. What’s here now (or at dealerships this summer) is quite great, too.
High Gear Media recently accepted accommodations, travel expenses, and meals in order to get first-drive access to these models and others from Mercedes-Benz.