2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC first drive review Page 2

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The SLC43 you just have to think of as an entirely different experience than the SLK55. It has none of the brawny, raucous sounds and overzealous, sledgehammer-like behavior of its predecessor. What’s here instead is something a little less instantaneous, yet nearly as thrilling once you learn this car’s ways.

The other SLC models are badged SLC300—now featuring a 241-hp, 2.0-liter four, as was introduced in the SLK300 this past year. Back in 2012, Mercedes-Benz subbed a 201-hp turbocharged four into the SLK; then last year it upgraded to a version of what’s now used in a wide range of M-B products.

Fewer cylinders and more gears not a plus for drivability

As such, with the new nine-speed, the SLC300 can get to 60 mph in just 5.7 seconds. On the straight line, it feels that quick; although we’ll add that in Comfort mode especially the combination of transmission lag and slight turbo lag don’t make this model feel anywhere close to as perky as the former V-6 SLK350. And when the power does show up, this engine doesn’t build through the rev range; it seems to feel nearly as much grunt at 4,000 rpm as at 5,500 rpm, for example.

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Although both of these models have great steering, the changes in the SLK43 offer somewhat better feel and weighting. And it’s abundantly clear that the SLC300 isn’t intended for tail-out driving; push it there and you’ll find the inside rear wheel scrambling for traction.

Thankfully, the SLK43 has an excellent, linear accelerator, just as the SLC300. It’s a great city and scenic cruiser. If it weren’t for the sound being quite different, both of these models feel quite comparable in low-speed drivability.

2017 Mercedes-AMG SLC43

2017 Mercedes-AMG SLC43

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The excellent top, which can be operated at up to about 25 mph (provided you start when the vehicle’s stopped), stows or deploys quickly and when up, truly seals out the weather and road noise.

Touring for two; leave the armoire at home

Having the top up does pound home just how small the SLC is, though. In this model that’s only the length of a subcompact, the floor wells are shallower than you might anticipate, looking at the car from the outside, which means that most drivers six feet tall and taller will likely have the seats scooted back all the way. And especially with the top down, there’s not a lot of trunk space.

The center-console compartment was just large enough for an SLR camera body with the kit lens—no more—and aside from that there’s surprisingly little storage up in the cabin...which also makes the SLC feel like a carry-over from Mercedes models of the last decade.

Ride quality also depends on the road. The SLC soaks major undulations, yet it tends to feel a little busy over jittery road surfaces.

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