In March 2016, 20 years on from the birth of its segment, the archetypal compact roadster is to be relaunched with a new name – SLC – significantly optimised 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. There are new additions to the model line-up – the sporty top-of-the-line Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 and the entry-level SLC 180. In visual terms, stand-out features include the standard-fit diamond radiator grille and the LED Intelligent Light System (optional extra). Prices will be announced when the SLC is available to order in mid-January 2016, with first cars arriving in showrooms from April 2016.
The new Mercedes-Benz SLC has an impressive heritage to live up to: its predecessor, the SLK, which was launched in 1996, won fans around the world and achieved sales of around 670,000 units. Comprehensively refined and with a model line-up ranging from the high-torque and economical SLC 250 d to the sporty, high-performance Mercedes-AMG SLC 43, the new model has what it takes to build on that success. The SLC 250 d, SLC 300 and SLC 43 feature the sport/comfort-oriented 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission as standard, while it is available as an option for the new 115 kW (156 hp) SLC 180 (not available in the UK) and for the SLC 200.
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 rational common sense, appealing to both the heart and the mind.”
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 bonnet, 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 entry-level model is the SLC 180 with an output of 115 kW (156 hp). It has an NEDC consumption figure of just 5.6 l/100 km and CO2 emissions of 127 g/km. Positioned above this are the SLC 200 with an output of 135 kW (184 hp) and the SLC 300 with 180 kW (245 hp), both of which feature a 1991 cc four-cylinder engine. The efficiency champion remains the 150 kW (204 hp) diesel model, the SLC 250 d, with a CO2 figure of 114 g/km.
Driving Performance is the AMG brand promise — and the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 lives up to it in impressive style. The new model combines a 270 kW (367 hp), 520 Nm, 3.0-litre V6 biturbo engine with a modified version of the AMG sports suspension familiar from the Mercedes-AMG SLK 55, and the combination is reflected in the sporty performance figures, with the SLC 43 accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds.
The SLC 180 and SLC 200 are fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission. The sport/comfort-oriented 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission is available for these models as an option and fitted as standard in the SLC 250 d, SLC 300 and SLC 43.
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 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 colour multifunction display and also appears as a pop-up message on the head unit display. DYNAMIC SELECT is a standard feature in the SLC 300 and SLC 250 d. In the SLC 180 and SLC 200 with 9G-TRONIC, transmission mode selection is available as an option. The SLC 43 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.
Drivers who choose the Dynamic Handling package (optional extra), which features a 10 mm lower chassis, an adaptive damping system, direct steering and ESP® Dynamic Cornering Assist, 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 sports exhaust system 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. The SLC 300 is fitted with the sports exhaust system as standard, while it is available for the SLC 200 in conjunction with 9G-TRONIC and the AMG Line/Sports package.
Assistance and safety systems: a comprehensive range
A new feature for the SLC is the standard-fit Active Brake Assist, known in other model series 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 also remain available.
For optimum visibility on country roads and motorways, when cornering and on bends, the optional LED Intelligent Light System automatically adapts 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. The five functions of the LED Intelligent Light System include motorway mode, cornering light function, camera-based active light function, roundabout light function and also the enhanced fog light function.
Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus is also available for dazzle-free continuous high beam usage. When high beam is switched on, this system always makes the optimum headlamp range available. The driver can concentrate on the traffic and does not have to continually switch between low beam and high beam. Via a camera positioned behind the windscreen, the Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus detects other illuminated road users, for example oncoming vehicles or vehicles travelling in front, and adjusts the headlamps independently to the new traffic conditions. A mechanism in the headlamp module masks the portion of the cone of light of the LED headlamps where there are other vehicles to prevent their drivers from being dazzled. The driver can therefore leave the high-beam headlamps on at all times and use their full range without bothering or endangering other road users. This function is active at speeds above 30 km/h when travelling in the dark on roads without street lighting.
Traffic Sign Assist is available in conjunction with COMAND Online. The system can recognise speed limit signs, no entry signs and no overtaking signs and shows the driver where any such restrictions start and finish. If the driver attempts to make a wrong turn against the stipulated flow of traffic and the appropriate signs are detected, a visual and audible warning will be given.
If the front passenger seat is unoccupied or a child seat is detected, the front passenger airbag is now deactivated automatically. This helps prevent small children from being injured by the front passenger airbag deploying. The reliable recognition function uses a pressure sensor.
Reversing into a parking space and manoeuvring can be made significantly safer and more straightforward with the optional reversing 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 PARKTRONIC including Parking Guidance 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 off due to the traffic conditions, the process which was started when at a standstill can be continued up to a speed of approx. 40 km/h. Another new feature is the automatic boot separator (in conjunction with the optional extra vario-roof convenience feature or KEYLESS-GO): if the separator is in the upper position for increased boot capacity, it automatically moves down when the roof is opened. If there is not enough space for this because the boot is full of luggage, the roof does not open and the message “Close boot 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 one of the two available draught-stops. The small side window behind the door can now be closed separately when the top is down, reducing wind noise.
A feature that continues to be unique to the SLC is the panoramic vario-roof with MAGIC SKY CONTROL – this glass roof is lightened or darkened at the touch of a button. This means that it provides an open-air feeling at any time, but when required gives welcome shade under a hot sun.
The classic strengths of the SLC also include its well-designed boot, which at 335 litres has easily the highest capacity in this segment.
Infotainment: extended functions for COMAND Online
As a control and display system for navigation, phone, audio, video and internet, the COMAND Online infotainment system offers a range of new and extended features:
- High-resolution, colour media display (screen diagonal 17.8 cm/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 conjunctionwith an appropriate mobile phone)
- DVD player
- Internet radio
- Bluetooth® connectivity with hands-free function, read function for text messages and audio streaming for music
- LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system for audio, phone, navigation, music search and Mercedes-Benz Apps
- 2 USB ports in centre armrest and one SD card slot in 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
- Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call
- Mercedes me connect standard services (accident recovery, breakdown management, maintenance management and telediagnostics), remote retrieval of vehicle status via remote online
The Audio 20 CD entertainment system has also been upgraded. It now features a bigger display (17.8 cm/7 inches) and can be combined with the Garmin® MAP PILOT navigation system; the navigation data is input using an SD card. Optimised route guidance is also available via Live Traffic Information.
Exterior design: diamond radiator grille and LED Intelligent Light System
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 bonnet, 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 louvre and chrome trim. A more individual look is available in conjunction with the AMG Line or the Night package: here the diamond radiator grille is finished in chrome, and the colour of the louvre either remains iridium silver (AMG Line) or is high-gloss black (Night package).
Further features of the sporty front section include a bumper which features striking air intakes, dynamically modelled contours and 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 LED Intelligent Light System (optional extra), 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 bonnet, 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 16 to 18-inch 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 boot 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 light (standard) or dark aluminium trim parts with a carbon fibre 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, colour TFT display with a screen diagonal of 4.5 inches (11.4 cm) is incorporated between the two dials as standard. An analogue clock with a black dial is available as an option. The display between the two ventilation outlets in the centre console has been significantly increased in size: in conjunction with Audio 20 it now has a diagonal of 7 inches (17.8 cm) instead of 5.8 inches (14.7 cm). The screen surround is 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 (available in conjunction with the Memory package) and the electroplated steering wheel shift paddles, offered in conjunction with the AMG Line and Sports package, demonstrate an impressive attention to detail.
The new-generation sports steering wheel, perforated as standard in the grip area, and the DIRECT SELECT lever, embossed with SLC (in conjunction with 9G-TRONIC), also help create a sporty, refined feel. A new 3-spoke multifunction steering wheel in nappa leather/DINAMICA microfibre is available as an option. The rim is flattened at the lower edge, the central grip area is trimmed with DINAMICA microfibre, and it features contrasting topstitching in red plus silver chrome trim and shift paddles.
The leather appointments have also been revised. With “sun-reflecting leather upholstery”, for example, the shoulder area of the seats features a new perforated design, while with “sun-reflecting nappa leather” the seats now feature transverse fluting in the selected appointments colour. The piping and topstitching are in a contrasting colour. Two new colours have also been added – saddle brown (in conjunction with nappa leather and Exclusive nappa leather) and platinum white (in conjunction with nappa leather, Exclusive nappa leather, designo nappa leather and designo Exclusive nappa leather).
The ambient lighting (optional extra) has been extended to the footwell, creating a more generous sense of space. As well as solar red there are now two additional colours – polar blue and polar white.
Heritage: 20th anniversary of the original launch
The SLK’s debut appearance back 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. Which 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 March 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 2005 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. 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.