You'll be forgiven if you forgot about the SLC. Last year, Mercedes moved just under 2,900 units of the little roadster here in the States; to put that in perspective, it managed to be outsold by the 45% more expensive SL. Credit for its meager sales numbers can be at least partially attributed to age: the baby convertible has been largely unchanged since debuting in 2011, despite a name change three years ago. For 2018, the SLC continues to soldier on with few changes.
What's New for 2018
Mercedes tries to liven things up with the Studio Performance RedArt Edition appearance package for the AMG SLC43. It includes red brake calipers, RedArt interior touches, and black 18-inch wheels with red trim. There's also a new optional steering wheel for the SLC43, and both variants get redesigned leather seating surfaces and optional ambient lighting that now extends to the footwells.
Choosing Your Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class
There's two distinct flavors of SLC on tap: the sedate SLC300, and the livelier AMG SLC43.
Despite what the 300 moniker might suggest, the SLC300's engine bay is home to a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. Power output is 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque, which is enough to scoot the 3,300-pound roadster to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. Though there's no manual transmission available, the nine-speed automatic does offer paddle shifters for some semblance of control. The EPA rates this boulevardier as being good for 25 miles per gallon city and 32 highway.
For anyone yawning at those performance stats, there's the AMG SLC43. To earn the AMG credentials, Mercedes swapped out the turbo-four for a twin-turbo six-cylinder. The two additional cylinders and extra turbo are good for 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque, and the whole package lets the SLC do 0-60 mph in 4.6 seconds. The nine-speed gearbox returns, but is enhanced by AMG. Unsurprisingly, fuel economy takes a hit over the SLC300, with the EPA estimating 20 miles per gallon city and 29 highway.
Both models eschew a ragtop for a power-retractable hardtop. It can be operated at speeds of up to 25 mph, and retracts in under 20 seconds. For $2,500, the top can be equipped with a trick panoramic roof that remains transparent while puttering around town but darkens when the car is parked. There's also something Mercedes calls Airscarf, which is a neck-and-shoulder-level heating system intended to make top-down motoring more comfortable, whether that's once the sun dips down or while you're trying to eek out a few more open-air jaunts during the shoulders of convertible season. It's standard on the SLC43, and available on the 300.
The familiar Comand infotainment software is standard issue in all SLCs. A console-mounted rotary switch allows users to rotate through the menus displayed on the seven-inch screen. It controls the standard eight-speaker sound system, Bluetooth, and auxiliary audio features.
Other standard features for both SLCs include multiple drive modes, MD-Tex upholstery (Mercedes verbiage for vinyl), power sport seats with memory, heated and powered mirrors, illuminated entry system, a four-way power steering column, and five years of complimentary mbrace Connect, a service which offers roadside assistance, maintenance reminders, and remote access to the vehicle via a smartphone or desktop. Among the no-cost safety features are active brake assist, attention assist, a rearview camera, and dual roll-bars.
No matter which SLC you splurge on, we recommend opting for the Premium 2 Package. Not only does it equip this sun-seeking Benz with navigation and smartphone integration, it also includes the better LED headlights and traffic-friendly adaptive cruise control.