Mercedes SLC (2016-2020) Review
It has sporty styling, but the Mercedes SLC is best at a relaxed pace
Strengths & weaknesses
- Efficient diesel engine
- Stylish design
- Not much fun to drive
- Expensive - official prices start at over £30,000
- Bumpy ride
The Mercedes SLC sounds like a brand new car, but in fact, it’s just an updated version of the SLK, which has been renamed to fit in with Mercedes’ new badging policy.
It does, however, have something key that neither of its rivals do: a metal roof. This can be opened or closed electronically at speeds of up to 25mph. Once closed, it's more secure than the fabric roofs that are fitted to the Audi and Porsche.
The downside is that it does add weight, though, and this gives a clue about the SLC's character. Despite its sporty looks, it's designed to be comfortable and luxurious. The engines are designed to be smooth and efficient, rather than outrageously fast - with the exception of the top-of-the-range AMG 43.
Inside, the SLC is comfortable and compact, with high-quality materials and new technology, which now supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, giving you the ability to turn your dashboard screen into a display that resembles your smartphone, where you can control apps and have messages dictated to you, for example.
The most popular car is the diesel-powered 250d: even though the SLC is a roadster with supposedly sporty performance, the reality is that few buyers head to the SLC for on-road thrills.
Indeed, it’s far from the most engaging sports car on the market, with the 718 Boxster and the TT being more fun to drive and engaging, Turn the steering wheel in the SLC and it feels lifeless. In rivals, you can feel the wheels turning underneath you and get a sense of the grip that they have, so you’re more at one with the car, which is more fun to drive.
It’s agile enough on the road, especially if you choose the right driving mode, but the ride quality is sorely lacking: on poor surfaces on when negotiating potholes, the SLC does have a tendency to shudder, with the suspension working overtime to keep the car from bouncing up and down.
The SLC looks the part, but spend any time in one and the deficiencies of its age – especially when compared to its rivals – are thrown into sharp relief.
It's also not a cheap car, with some versions of the TT undercutting the SLC by a few thousand pounds.
|Warranty||3 years / unlimited miles|
|Boot size||225 litres|
|Tax (min to max)||From B (£20) to I (£355 in first year and £230 thereafter)|
Best Mercedes-Benz SLC for...
Best for Economy – Mercedes SLC 250d
The diesel SLC returns very impressive official fuel economy of 70.7mpg and low CO2 emissions of 114g/km, making for low running costs.
Best for Performance – Mercedes-AMG SLC 43
A 0-62mph acceleration time of 4.7 seconds virtually matches the Porsche 718 Boxster. From behind the wheel, it feels quick too.
One to Avoid – Mercedes SLC 200
A triple whammy of high fuel consumption, unimpressive performance (0-62mph in 7 seconds) and a hefty official price of more than £30,000 make this a model to pass on.
- 2016 SLK Roadster replaced with new SLC
- 2017 Sport trim discontinued
- 2017 Entry level SLC, the SLC 180, released
Understanding Mercedes-Benz SLC names
The three figures give an indication of how powerful the engine is - a larger number means more power. If it's followed by a 'd', then this indicates a diesel engine. The fastest model uses a different system: it's known as the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43.
Trim level Sport
There are three variants: Sport, AMG Line and a range-topping AMG. Sport is the base version, with additional equipment being added to the AMG Line for additional money. The AMG 43 version is a more expensive special performance variant with even more standard equipment.
Mercedes-Benz SLC Engines
SLC 180, SLC 200, SLC 300, SLC 250 d, AMG SLC 43
There’s a straightforward engine line-up with the SLC, with five variants.
On the petrol side of the range are three units.
The lowest powered SLC, the SLC 180, has a turbo 1.6-litre petrol engine making 156hp. 0-62mph is dispatched in 7.9 seconds and it can get to 140 mph. It’s fast enough for most, as long as people are aware that this isn’t a fast car. It does however emit an impressively low 134 g/km of CO2. Mercedes reckons it will do close to 50mpg too - so expect around 40mpg with regular driving.
There are also two variations based on a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine. Propping up the range is the SLC 200, which has an engine tuned to produce 184 horsepower (hp), which only results in a pretty lacklustre 7.0-second 0-62mph time, which is relatively pedestrian for a sporty roadster. A fuel economy figure of 43.5mpg is pretty much par for the course.
The more powerful SLC 300 increases the output of the 2.0-litre engine to 245hp, which has the effect of trimming quite a bit off the 0-62mph sprint, taking it down to a more-like-it 5.8 seconds. It does feel tangibly quicker on the road, too, and sounds it too, thanks to the barking sound from the sports exhaust. Despite the power boost, fuel consumption is also an improvement, increasing to 47.1mpg.
As you might expect, the economy champion is the diesel variant, the 250 d. With a mightily impressive 70.6mpg and emissions of just 114g/km, this version is one that is most attractive to British buyers. It sounds a bit rough and rattly, though and shows its age compared to more recent – and quieter – Mercedes diesels.
The range-topping AMG 43 accelerates from 0-62mph in 4.7sec, which feels pretty quick and is only 0.1 second off the Porsche 718 Boxster’s pace.
Mercedes-Benz SLC Trims
AMG Line, AMG
Mercedes-Benz has kept the trim offering simple for the SLC. There are only two trim options.
AMG Line includes 18in alloy wheels, as well as sportier additions to the outside, which make the car appear to be lower to the road, along with firmer suspension, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, leather sports seats and interior trim upgrades. It also gets artificial leather, and an automatic braking system.
The Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 adds an AMG Performance steering wheel in nappa leather and Dinamica man-made suede, with red contrast stitching, Airscarf neck-level heating, Parktronic parking assistance, brighter LED headlights and high-performance brakes.
Mercedes-Benz SLC Reliability and warranty
While not at the top of tables for reliability, Mercedes ranks as average. It was the 18th most reliable brand out of 32 in last year's Auto Express Driver Power survey.
All Mercedes cars are covered with a three-year warranty, with no mileage restriction.
Used Mercedes-Benz SLC
The SLC has been around for long enough for used models to start surfacing on the used market now.
Sport models were discontinued in 2017, and are therefore rarer. Diesel models were the big sellers - so these tend to be better value as there are more of them.
|1 Year||2 years||3 years|
|Best for performance Mercedes AMG 43||Price||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Best for economy Mercedes SLC 180||Price||N/A||N/A||N/A|