But is this really a good deal?
Not that the US market would ever be accused of wanting to compare a classy A-grade Mercedes SLC with a Mazda MX-5 RF, but a new report by Autocar claims that Mercedes is introducing a new SLC variant that threatens the entry-level Japanese sports car with just the right amount of horsepower to trounce the retractable fastback Miata and not much more. Better still is that the Mercedes SLC will undercut the MX-5 RF in terms of price as well.
Like the new four-cylinder Jaguar F-Type, Mercedes wanted to appeal to another segment with its SLC sports car, perhaps in efforts to get rid of the last rolling chassis on the factory floor before the model line is killed off entirely, by downsizing the engine and slashing prices. The SLC 180 makes 154 brake horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque using a turbocharged 1.6-liter engine that's mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. As one might expect, this doesn't exactly allow for the quickest rush from 0-62 mph, with that mark being crossed 7.9 seconds after launch. That clocks in at 0.6 seconds after an MX-5 RF, but at least top speed sits at a respectable 140 mph, 10 mph more than the Mazda.
On the other hand, it does offer better fuel economy than the MX-5 RF thanks to a displacement difference of 0.4-liters. Apex hunters will enjoy the fact that its small engine makes the SLC 180 the lightest in the family, weighing in at 3,159 pounds. It's also only available in AMG Line trim, which adds exclusive and perhaps deceptively sporty-looking bodywork as well as 17-inch alloy wheels to the mix for aesthetic value. With comparable performance, one would expect the SLC 180 to be priced similarly, but it ranks in at £32,039 ($41,442), £8,644 ($11,181) more than a base MX-5 RF in the UK or £2,419 ($3,128) more than a base UK Fiat 124.
On the other hand, Mercedes is claiming that the SLC would carry a lower monthly premium than the Mazda thanks to higher residual values making it cheaper on a Personal Contract Purchase deal. The Tri-Star badge alone may sway some buyers into the SLC, but our own experience with the MX-5 RF proved that it doesn't take a luxury badge to attain high amounts of driver satisfaction. No mention on whether or not the US will see similar deals on entry-level SLCs.