Whoever thought we’d see the day when an AMG version of a vehicle range outside of the front-drive based CLA-class would exist in its entirety without a single V8 in the line-up? The SLK used to feature one, but with the change-over in its naming the now SLC-class of convertible sports cars finds itself without a V8, and with the range-topper being badged as the Mercedes-AMG SLC43. Now powered by a bi-turbo V6, it’s not only down on displacement, but down on power, and slower in the 0-60mph sprint by which all cars are measured. Is simplicity really the ultimate sophistication?
Sharing exterior styling with the SL and AMG GT isn’t enough for the SLC, it carries the family genetics to the interior too. It may not have the unique center stacks, but the rest of it is standard Mercedes-AMG design, and the material qualities feel as premium as they do in the more expensive coupes.
Inside, the SLC offers a snug fit – tighter than that of the Audi TT – though only tall or broad occupants will truly suffer. The folding hard top stows behind the cabin, still leaving an ample 6.4 cubic feet worth of cargo space, but with the roof up, there’s a genuine trunk back there, with 10.1 cubic feet worth of space. With the top closed, you can specify a glass roof, though the Magic Sky Control is the best option, with electrochromic glass that darkens to black at the press of a button.
In its standard guise, the SLC43 is more of a sporty tourer than bona fide sports car. The ride is pliant, but at times a little lumpy, and there’s enough body roll to feel it during cornering and braking. The addition of the Dynamic Handling package helps push the SLC43 towards the realm of the Porsche 718 Boxster by adding adaptive damping and ESP Dynamic Cornering Assist that slackens and sharpens the damping of individual wheels depending on the road surface, speed, and state of cornering. But it’s the AMG Handling Package you’ll really want on your AMG SLC43 – equipping the roadster with an AMG limited slip differential to improve handling, sharpen turn-in, and allow the power to be put down better on corner exit. The package also includes red brake calipers for the decent standard steel rotor brakes with four piston calipers.
Like all other AMG models with the 43 denomination, the engine under the SLC43’s hood isn’t hand crafted in Affalterbach. It’s a run of the mill twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 that develops 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque, sent to the rear wheels only through a 9-speed automatic transmission. The V6 growls politely compared to the old SLK55 V8’s bark, and the outputs are down by 53hp and 14 lb-ft respectively. 0-60mph takes 0.1 seconds longer than the old SLK, and is accomplished in 4.6 seconds.
Like all Mercedes-Benz roadsters, the AMG SLC43 gets the option of AirScarf neck-level heating to ensure the top only goes up when it rains. The powered sports seats are heated as standard, and the steering wheel is power adjustable. A $350 Smartphone Integration Package equips the SLC43 for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The standard Premium 1 package includes blind spot assist, in addition to a rear view camera and dual roll bars. The Premium 3 package adds DISTRONIC distance pilot, lane keep assist, and park assist for added safety. The SLC has not been crash tested by local authorities.
The AMG SLC43 may have lost the brawny V8, but the lighter V6 makes it an adept handler. With the AMG Handling Package equipped, the SLC becomes a genuine sports car to rival roadsters from Porsche, and the forthcoming BMW Z4.