Ever since Mercedes unveiled tits SLK roadster redesign in the form of the SLC, the car has felt a little more grown-up and looked a little more svelte. That exterior redesign came back in 2016, and very little was changed beneath the surface from the 2011 SLK. Now, with more power from the 3.0-liter bi-turbo V6, the AMG-badged SLC aims to give Beverly Hills hairdressers more "O.M.G. moments" and Chihuahua fanatics everywhere more reason to hold onto their toupees. Still generating 384 lb-ft of torque, twist remains the same, but power increases to 385 horsepower. Plenty of optional extras are included as standard equipment too. The infotainment system has not been updated, though, and is starting to look a bit dated; but Mercedes is hoping that a color called Graphite Grey, which makes its debut here, will round out the package sufficiently. With rumors on the horizon that the SLC may soon meet its demise, could this be the convertible's last hurrah?
While relatively small, the updates for 2019 are worthwhile. This year's model gets a boost in power of 23 horsepower, while creature-comfort perks like auto high-beam with adaptive headlights and automatic dual-zone climate control are all included as standard in the AMG. Graphite Grey, a new color for the baby Merc, also announces itself. As is to be expected, the features and options lists have been updated for the new model year, with the usual higher prices to boot. The 2019 model will cost you $2,550 more than last year's model before options.
Starting at $63,900, the SLC 43 is priced considerably higher than the Z4, although the Z4 is not yet available in a performance-focused model. The Boxster S, however, is not much more expensive than the AMG, and once you start ticking the Mercedes options boxes, the price quickly becomes rather high. We managed to get a fully loaded model, without any accessories like floor mats, up to the sum of $82,935. At that price point, the Porsche is certainly a better buy. Both the base model price and the fully specced option exclude the costs of taxes and Mercedes' $995 destination charge.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG SLC 43 Roadster||
3.0L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
The sportiest of the SLCs, the AMG, comes with stiffer suspension that helps to encourage spirited driving while still maintaining comfort. Thus, this is not a knife-edged racer and will be comprehensively outdone in the corners by Porsche's offerings, while its BMW rival will also outmaneuver it. As is usually the case with AMG, their sports models seem to generally convey a sense of being 'hurried' rather than 'racy'. The core ethos is usually a focus on comfort with a large dollop of power rather than driving dynamics, and that is abundantly evident here. This bi-turbo V6 makes enough grunt to feel suitably fast, but never overpowering - nor is it a handful. As a result, the SLC 43 is a roadster with sufficient power and luxury, but not an excess of either. Corners are neither its best friend nor its enemy - the AMG simply deals with them.
Overall, this is a baby SL, a mini grand tourer. The smaller dimensions and weight seem to indicate that this is just that, a smaller version of a bigger car, rather than its own type of Mercedes. Long drives, short drives, spirited drives - they're all good, just not as exciting as Stuttgart and Bavaria would have you believe they need to be. If that's what you want, though - a mini sports GT with better handling than its big brother - then you've got to give the SLC 43 a look.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
With numerous rivals out there, some of the best coming from the homeland of Mercedes, the AMG only really caters to the badge loyalist. If you're comfortable with older tech, an auto gearbox only, minuscule storage and interior space, and a relaxing - rather than invigorating - driving experience, then this Merc is everything you'd expect it to be. Quiet, refined, quick, and old-school.
If you're looking for a roadster that actually lives up to its sporty styling suggestions, the slower but certainly more alive and more modern BMW Z4 is truly engaging, while the lighter, more luxurious, more contemporary, more precise Porsche Boxster is, well, more. The Boxster has an upper-class air to it, and it's driving dynamics make it a far better weekend cruiser too. Both the BMW and the Porsche stow more in the trunk as well with their soft tops folded away.
Ultimately, the SLC 43 is old even in 'new' guise. It's about to be axed, and the people can't be blamed for not buying it. This car just isn't cool anymore, and its rivals have leapfrogged it a long time ago.
With additional power being the most notable of the upgrades to the 2019 model, we would consider looking at a used model. However, if your heart is set on a brand new SLC 43, we'd spec the multimedia package and the additional driver aids to the SLC as is. This will give you navigation and smartphone integration, which will help make the infotainment more useable day-to-day. If you can spare it, the Magic Sky option is also a box that'll be worth ticking if you want to enjoy your SLC to the fullest.
|Mercedes-AMG SLC 43||385 hp||20/29 mpg||$64,650|
|BMW Z4 Roadster||255 hp||25/32 mpg||$49,900|
|Porsche 718 Boxster||300 hp||20/25 mpg||$65,500|
The age-old rivalry between Mercedes and it's Munich-based nemesis does not have a clear favorite in this instance. In terms of outright performance, the pricier AMG has the Bimmer waxed. However, as an overall experience, things are not so clear-cut. The BMW is lighter and more fun to drive. It is also vastly more modern, and as such is a more enjoyable daily driver. At just on $50k, it's also approximately 13 grand less expensive than the Merc. The BMW is easier to justify in terms of space, as its folding rag-top takes up considerably less trunk space than the exquisite folding hard-top in the Merc. Slower, yes, but better to live with, the Z4 is worthy of looking at if you want a premium roadster. When the 2020 M40i version arrives, it will be a more direct competitor to the AMG in terms of performance and will cost almost the same.
If motoring nirvana is what you seek, there's only one brand that people remember Stuttgart for, and it's not Mercedes. Porsche enters the fight with their recently updated 718 Boxster, and with a price tag a couple of grand short of the one found on the AMG, you have to consider it. In terms of driving dynamics, the Boxster is one of the best handling roadsters ever made. In fact, it's also the car that single-handedly saved Porsche from the bean-counters years ago. Outstanding handling, unmistakable looks, and undeniable class (or snobbery) accompany that key. Plus, you can have it with a manual as standard, although the two-pedal option is incredible. If a dearer price doesn't bother you, the S is also an option and will still cost less than a fully loaded SLC. It's the best and always has been, plus it has more space and a better interior. The Merc doesn't stand a chance - unless you don't want to stand out.
The most popular competitors of 2019 Mercedes-AMG SLC 43: