Mercedes bought over two million automobiles across the globe final 12 months, however the SLC (identified beforehand because the SLK) stays a bit-part participant within the model’s success. Actually, sports activities vehicles accounted for simply 27,000 of the agency’s gross sales in 2016, representing a seven per cent drop year-on-year.
In a bid to see if new life might be injected into the section, Mercedes has added an extra mannequin to the SLC line-up. Known as the SLC 180, it serves as a brand new entry-level variant, boasting a turbocharged, 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine mated to a six-speed handbook gearbox. It additionally signifies that Merc’s Porsche 718 Boxster rival comes with a decrease beginning value of simply £32,039.
Whereas that headline determine appears unlikely to hassle vehicles just like the Mazda MX-5 RF, Mercedes is now providing its child roadster with huge vendor deposit contributions if purchased on a PCP deal. It signifies that month-to-month repayments for the brand new entry-level SLC are literally cheaper than what Mazda quotes for its range-topping hardtop MX-5.
The SLC 180 is obtainable solely as an AMG Line mannequin, nonetheless. Preserving choices restricted to 1 trim isn’t all an excessive amount of of a disgrace, although, because it offers the roadster a sporty look to match its premium badge. It’s kitted out with an aggressive bodykit, 18-inch multispoke AMG alloy wheels, plus halogen headlights with LED daytime working lights.
In fact, the large information with this automotive is the introduction of its turbocharged engine, which on this guise produces 154bhp. It’s not a brand new unit, and already options underneath the bonnet of the A 200 model of the A-Class. However claimed gasoline financial system is nice, with the 1.6 delivering an official return of 48.7mpg. CO2 emissions of 132g/km aren’t too unhealthy both.
In its new position underneath the bonnet of the SLC, Mercedes has tried to liven the unit up by making certain it may be heard loud and clear within the cabin. The stifled four-cylinder grunt isn’t essentially the most thrilling engine observe, nevertheless it does at the least imply that the entry degree SLC isn’t a snoozer. Throttle response is ok because of the unit’s 250Nm of torque being delivered at low revs, however progress isn’t quick with Zero-62mph arriving in 7.9 seconds.
That’s as a result of, regardless of a 20kg weight saving over the SLC 200, the cheaper 180 continues to be weighty for a small roadster. It ideas the scales at 1,435kg, whereas the MX-5 RF, which additionally boasts a bit additional energy (158bhp), weighs in nearly 400kg lighter at 1,075kg.
The facility to weight imbalance signifies that the SLC isn’t essentially the most thrilling steer. The burden of the steering is ok and the lighter nostril feels keen to show in, however like every other model of the SLC it nonetheless lacks the essential suggestions required to goad you into sooner driving.
As AMG line is the one trim degree, sports activities suspension and selectable driving modes are commonplace. Nonetheless, we discovered the completely different settings do little to alter the best way the automotive drives, and the stiff suspension setup signifies that whereas the automotive feels snug at velocity, the trip isn’t versatile and seems fairly agency round city.
The six-speed handbook gearbox doesn’t redeem the driving expertise, both. Whereas the throw is sweet and brief, it’s springy and doesn’t shift fairly as slickly as you’d like. It feels as if it’s positioned too far again within the cabin, which means taller drivers would possibly battle to get snug. Regardless, most consumers are anticipated to skim over this and pluck straight for the nine-speed automated gearbox as a substitute – a worthwhile £1,600 choice.
Issues within the cabin really feel properly screwed collectively, however there’s no denying that SLC is displaying its age. This automotive was launched underneath the SLK nameplate again in 2011, so the massive stack of buttons plastered on the dashboard are a bit previous hat in a world of extra trendy touchscreens.
The infotainment system is missing too. A seven-inch show is commonplace on all fashions, however upgrading the system to function satellite tv for pc navigation is an additional £595, whereas Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility is £250 on prime of that.
AMG sports activities seats are included, however digital adjustment and seat heaters are on the choices listing, too. It signifies that whereas the SLC 180 is reasonably priced on a month-to-month deal, chances are you’ll be disillusioned with the extent of apparatus thrown in. The MX-5 RF is quicker, extra enjoyable, and options extra package as commonplace.