Twenty years after defining a new segment, the new SLC will launch in the Spring of 2016. With significantly optimized technology and an enhanced look, the name change acknowledges the traditionally close relationship with the C-Class, from which much of the roadster’s technology is derived.
The new Mercedes-Benz SLC has an impressive heritage to live up to: its predecessor, the SLK, which was launched in 1996, achieved sales of around 670,000 units. Comprehensively refined and with a model line-up from the sporty SLC300 to the high-performance Mercedes-AMG SLC43, the new model has what it takes to build on that success. Both the SLC300 and SLC43 feature the sporty, yet comfort-oriented 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission as standard equipment.
Ola Källenius, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Mercedes-Benz Cars Sales & Marketing: “In 1996 Mercedes-Benz redefined the roadster with its innovative vario-roof, and combined open-air driving pleasure with uncompromised comfort in poor weather. The renamed compact roadster remains an ideal combination of passion and common sense, appealing to both the heart and the mind.”
As part of the face lift, the Mercedes-Benz designers have further honed the roadster’s sporty look. The new front section, where the steeply raked radiator grille elongates the appearance of the arrow-shaped hood, is particularly striking. All SLC models feature a diamond radiator grille as standard.
With DYNAMIC SELECT, the vehicle characteristics can be adjusted instantly at the touch of a button, as the system modifies the engine, transmission, steering and suspension at the driver’s behest.
The new SLC model line-up at a glance:
|Number of cylinders/arrangement||4/in-line||6/V|
(hp at rpm)
|241 at 5500||362 at 5500-6000|
(lb-ft at rpm)
|273 at 1300-4000||384 at
|Top speed (mph)||130||155|
The drive system: individual driving characteristics with DYNAMIC SELECT
Driving Performance is the AMG brand promise and the Mercedes-AMG SLC43 lives up to it in impressive style. The new model combines a 362 hp, 384 lb-ft,
3.0-liter V6 biturbo engine with a modified version of the AMG sport suspension familiar from the Mercedes-AMG SLK 55, and the combination is reflected in the sporty performance figures, with the SLC43 accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds.
With standard DYNAMIC SELECT the vehicle characteristics can be adjusted instantly at the touch of a button, as the system modifies the engine, transmission, steering and suspension at the driver’s behest. The five modes – “Comfort”, “Sport”, “Sport+”, “Eco” and “Individual” are easy to select using the DYNAMIC SELECT button in the upper control panel on the dashboard console. The selected mode is shown on the color multifunction display and also appears as a pop-up message on the head unit display. The SLC43 features an AMG Sport exhaust system as standard and uses the two adjustable exhaust flaps to adapt the sound to the mode selected via DYNAMIC SELECT.
On the SLC300, drivers can choose the Dynamic Handling package, which features an adaptive damping system and ESP® Dynamic Cornering Assist, and can also use DYNAMIC SELECT to specify the damping force in Comfort, Sport and Sport+ mode. Here the damping force at each individual wheel is automatically and continuously adapted to the current driving conditions.
With the sport exhaust system on the SLC300, the sound experience can be intensified as the acoustics can be adjusted via an integral exhaust flap in conjunction with the DYNAMIC SELECT transmission modes.
Assistance and safety systems: a comprehensive range
A new feature for the SLC is the standard-fit Active Brake Assist, known in other models as COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS. In addition to radar-based proximity warning and braking assistance by Adaptive Brake Assist, this Active Brake Assist system carries out autonomous braking to reduce the danger of rear-end collisions. If the driver fails to act when a risk of a collision is detected, despite the warning lamp in the instrument cluster and the intermittent audible alert, the system will initiate automatic braking. This significantly reduces the vehicle speed. At low relative speeds, this intervention may be sufficient to prevent a rear-end collision with slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles. Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist are also available as part of optional equipment packages.
For optimum visibility on country roads and highways, when cornering and on bends, the optional Dynamic LED Headlights automatically adapt to all light and driving conditions. The LED technology features low energy consumption, a long service life and a pleasant white light which approximates the daylight spectrum.
Reversing into a parking space and maneuvering can be made significantly safer and more straightforward with the standard rear view camera. It is automatically activated when reverse gear is engaged and uses the head unit display to show the driver the area behind the vehicle with dynamic guide lines. As an option, Parking Assist can make locating a parking space and parallel parking easier.
Comfort appointments: vario-roof now even easier to operate
The SLC’s vario-roof combines open-top driving pleasure with uncompromised comfort in poor weather. Operating the electrohydraulic roof is now even more straightforward. If when opening or closing the roof the vehicle has to move due to the traffic conditions, the process which was started when at a standstill can be continued up to a speed of approx. 25 mph. Another new feature is the standard automatic trunk separator. If the separator is in the upper position for increased trunk capacity, it automatically moves down when the roof is opened. If there is not enough space for this because the trunk is full of luggage, the roof does not open and the message “Close trunk separator” appears in the instrument cluster.
Even with the top down, optional features ensure that the SLC is able to offer the perfect on-board climate. These features include heated seats and AIRSCARF, the neck-level heating system for the driver and front passenger, ideally in combination with the standard draft-stop. The small side window behind the door can now also be closed separately when the top is down, reducing wind noise.
The standard panorama roof is optionally available with MAGIC SKY CONTROL. This feature continues to be unique to the SLC and allows the glass roof to be lightened or darkened at the touch of a button. This helps provide an open-air feeling at any time, but also gives welcome shade under a hot sun when required.
Infotainment: extended functions for COMAND
As a control and display system for navigation, phone, audio, video and internet, the COMAND infotainment system offers a range of new and extended features:
- High-resolution, color media display (diagonal screen size of 7 inches)
- Fast, dynamic hard disc navigation with realistic topographical map views
and three years of free navigation updates
- Internet access when vehicle is stationary and unrestricted use of Mercedes‑Benz Apps when on the move too (in conjunction with an
appropriate mobile phone)
- DVD player
- Internet radio
- Bluetooth® connectivity with hands-free function, read function for text messages and audio streaming for music
- Voice-operated control system for audio, phone, navigation, music search and Mercedes-Benz Apps
- 2 USB ports in center armrest and one SD card slot in the COMAND head unit
- Integral Media Interface connection for iPod® or iPhone®
- Phone book import from mobile to head unit
- Cover Art: album covers displayed in audio menu
Exterior design: diamond grille and LED Headlights
As part of the facelift, the Mercedes-Benz designers have further honed the roadster’s sporty look. The new front section, where the steeply raked radiator grille elongates the appearance of the arrow-shaped hood, is particularly striking. All SLC models feature a diamond radiator grille as standard. On the entry-level model it is finished in black with an iridium silver louver and chrome trim. A more individual look is available in conjunction with the Sport Package: here the diamond radiator grille is finished in chrome, and the color of the louver either remains iridium silver or high-gloss black (in conjunction with Night Package).
Further features of the sporty front section include a bumper which features striking air intakes, dynamically modelled contours, high-quality chrome trim at the lower edge, and distinctive headlamps. The LED daytime running lamps are integrated into the headlamp units. The lenses are made from clear polycarbonate and have a scratchproof coating. With the optional Dynamic LED Headlights, the edges and other parts of the headlamp housing are finished in black, conveying a high-level of perceived quality and an effective sense of depth.
The side view of the SLC reveals the typical features of a roadster with a long hood, a passenger compartment that is set back and a short rear. The silhouette is defined by the gently rising beltline and the sweeping curve of the roof, the powerfully moulded wheel arches, sporty 17” to 18” light-alloy wheels and the ventilation grilles in the front wing. The latter feature a high-sheen chrome fin which has echoes of the legendary Mercedes-Benz 300 SL.
Powerful proportions define the rear section with its muscular wings. The rear bumper with its black diffuser, chrome touches and integral tailpipe trim signal the dynamic potential of the SLC. The tail light units, which now have a narrower design, feature LED technology and are divided horizontally: the top and middle lights are the brake and tail light, and below them are the direction indicator and reversing light. The trunk lid has a pronounced arrow shape and the third brake light is positioned in the spoiler lip.
The interior: larger display and electroplated control elements
The interior of the post-facelift SLC has an even higher-quality look. Highlights include new aluminium trim parts with a carbon fiber finish. The instrument cluster has a new design too. The two tubular instrument surrounds now feature black dials. Red needles also add to the sporty, contemporary design.
A large, multifunction, color TFT display with a screen diagonal of 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) is incorporated between the two dials as standard. An analog dashtop clock with a black dial is available as an option. The display between the two ventilation outlets in the center console has been significantly increased in size: it now has a diagonal of 7 inches instead of 5.8 inches. The screen surround is finished in high-gloss black. Additional displays for vehicle parameters underline the sporty feel – as do the dials showing the engine data.
The electroplated control elements for the electrically adjustable seats and the electroplated steering wheel shift paddles (part of optional Sport Package – black shift paddles are standard equipment) demonstrate a keen attention to detail.
The new-generation sport steering wheel with perforation in the grip area, and the new DIRECT SELECT lever embossed with SLC, help create a sporty, refined feel. A new 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel in Nappa leather/DINAMICA microfiber is available as an option on the SLC43. The rim is flattened at the lower edge, the central grip area is trimmed with DINAMICA microfiber, and it features contrasting topstitching in red plus silver chrome trim and shift paddles.
The leather appointments have also been revised. The leather upholstery (which offers sun-reflective technology) features a new perforated design on the shoulder area of the seats, while the Nappa leather seats now feature transverse fluting in the selected appointments color. The piping and topstitching are in a contrasting color. Two new colors have also been added – saddle brown (available as Nappa leather) and platinum white (available as Nappa leather and designo Nappa leather).
The ambient lighting (optional) has been extended to the footwell, creating a more generous sense of space. In addition to solar red there are now two additional colors available: polar blue and polar white.
Heritage: 20th anniversary of the original launch
The SLK’s debut appearance in 1996 caused a sensation. Not only was this a compact roadster from Mercedes-Benz, but it featured vibrant yellowstone launch paintwork and, instead of the traditional soft top, a tough vario-roof. The SLK marked the start of a new era for the traditional Mercedes-Benz brand and its roof design served as a model for many other open-top vehicles.
Beneath its outer shell, it used a lot of technology from the C-Class. That remains unchanged to this day. This is why, in the light of the company’s nomenclature changes, it was deemed fitting that the roadster should continue its successful career under the new name SLC.
The second generation of the SLK was launched in Spring 2004. A front section based on the nose cone of a Formula 1 car underlined its sporty nature, as did the new top-of-the-line model, the SLK 55 AMG.
The Geneva Motor Show in spring 2005 saw the unveiling of the prototype SLK 320 CDI, which featured a pioneering 286 hp triturbo diesel engine. This never saw series production, but the roadster/diesel combination was successfully achieved as part of the third generation, launched in March 2011, which brought with it the SLK 250 CDI (which never sold in the USA). Another new feature of the third SLK was the ingenious vario-roof with MAGIC SKY CONTROL, which allowed a glass panel in the roof to be switched from transparent to dark at the touch of a button.