Mercedes-Benz SLC 300: Springing into a roadster
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SLC roadster offers enough comforts to make it your work car
It’s been 20 years since the compact roadster segment was launched and since then many things have changed with luxury and safety feature now abound.
What also has changed two decades on is that the compact roadster is likely to be the third car in your garage, alongside a sedan and SUV, rather than every day drive. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Mercedes-Benz’s compact roadster was better known as the SLK but it has just had a facelift with not only a new badge, SLC, but also with enough creature comforts to make it your work car.
“The new SLC range continues the success story of roadsters from Mercedes-Benz,” said Mercedes-Benz NZ public relations specialist, Matt Bruce.
“We expect that the entry level SLC 180 and 200 models will attract the bulk of local buyers due to the high level of new standard equipment and dynamic driving capabilities,” he said.
“However, we believe we can sell every SLC allocated to New Zealand.”
The brand also has the SL premium roadster that’s a niche product for the brand but also an iconic one as it is aligned to the 1955 SL Gullwing and the 1957 Roadster.
The SLC and the SL look similar, but the main difference is that the SLC is smaller, and is not available as a Mercedes-AMG 63 or 65 model, while the SL is considerably more expensive than the SLC.
The SLC is 4133mm long, 1810mm wide and 1301mm high. The SLC has a close relationship with the C-Class and uses a lot of the new sedan’s technology in the roadster. That includes the diamond radiator grille, 9G-Tronic transmission and new driver assistance.
In 1996, Mercedes-Benz introduced the innovative vario-roof; a hydraulically operated, three-part folding metal roof that turns the roadster into a coupe and takes up a third of the available luggage compartment space when open.
With the roof folded into the boot there is have enough space in the compartment for a cabin bag, large handbag, office satchel and few cubby hole size spots for shopping.
The roof also gives you a quiet ride as it keeps out road noise, and during our wet start to spring, provided a secure and dry cabin.
Driven tested the SLC 300 this week, with the 180kW/370Nm four-cylinder turborcharged petrol engine. It comes with electrically adjustable heated seats, 18in AMG wheels, AMG bodystyling, lowered sports suspension, and airscarf neck-level heating.
The new SLC range has such safety features as six airbags, attention assist, an active bonnet, active brake assist with autonomous emergency braking and a reversing camera. The SLC 300 also has distance pilot cruise control.
Our test vehicle was priced at $120,990 due to the inclusion of metallic paint, command infotainment package and dynamic handling.
The dynamic handling package lets you configure the SLC to driving style. For my daily inner city commute, I set the engine to sport (over comfort, sport + and eco), the suspension on comfort (over sport), steering on sport (cancelling out comfort) and stop-start turned off.
It’s great to have this sort of technology that lets you individualise the SLC to your driving style in any situation.
I choose that setting for my daily commute as I wanted a more dynamic ride than just a comfortable drive. With the SLC’s low ride you have the ability to treat the roadster as a sports coupe so you can get more performance from the chassis and powertrain.
On the motorway and then a back quiet country road, I dialled in sports suspension and enjoyed being about to power into a corner and is well balanced, while due to the weight of 1512kg, is surefooted rather than overconfident.
The roof manoeuvre takes about 12 seconds, and even in inclement weather, you can have a fun drive with the roof off. Push the button for the heated leather seats, add the airscarf and then pump the heat to your head and you’re cosy.
The cabin gets its styling from the new C-Class and there is also a large centre storage area for wallets, and two cup holders in front of it.
With the likes of the popular 2-litre Mazda MX-5 priced from $46,996, there is competition in the compact roadster segment in New Zealand.
But Mercedes-Benz is expecting that with the legacy of SLK that Kiwi buyers will remain faithful and opt for the three pointed star with all its features.
MERCEDES-BENZ SLC 300
2-litre, four cylinder turbo petrol engine
Pros: Dynamic handling
Cons: Cheaper competition