2016 Mercedes AMG SLC 43 review

The 2016 Mercedes AMG SLC 43 is not all-new, is not more powerful, and is not even restyled much. But it has a new badge. Is that enough?

By Shahzad Sheikh

Click below to watch our 2016 Mercedes AMG SLC 43 review

To coincide with the 20th anniversary of the original SLK, the entire range had its badge designation changed to SLC to fit in line with the new Mercedes naming conventions.

You see ‘SL’ is now for the roadster variants in the Merc line-up – unless it’s the new AMG GT Roadster, in which case it’s just ‘Roadster’… Huh?! Anyway the C denotes the segment it fits into – so this is C-Class level stuff. Although the range-topping SL Roadster doesn’t become an SLS? Again, WTF Mercedes?

2016 Mercedes AMG SLC 43 Review

And whilst renaming the car, Mercedes decided to take the opportunity to completely overhaul the car in not any way at all… Okay, sorry, the front is a bit different with tweaked lights and bumpers, plus larger gaps to let the air in for cooling.

And they now have the 9-speed auto with faster shifts. Plus there’s new engines. But don’t get too excited because the previous range-topping SLK 55 AMG with its frankly mental 415bhp 5.5-litre V8, crammed into the little engine bay, putting out 398lb ft of torque for a 0-100kph time of 4.5 seconds, is now gone.

2016 Mercedes AMG SLC 43 Review

So instead you’re expecting a much more mightier new unit right?

Well sorry, but actually the range topper is now this – the SLC 43. It has a 3.0-litre Twin Turbo V6 putting out 367bhp and 384lb ft.

But don’t be so quick to dismiss this car, yes, okay it is a little slower to 100 – but only two-tenths slower at 4.7seconds. And it gets AMG sports suspension, AMG engine mounts, rear diff and sharper steering.

2016 Mercedes AMG SLC 43 Review

Plus it’s cheaper than the SLK 55! At AED246,257 ($67,100) it undercuts the old 55 by over AED46,000.

And AMG has done quite a bit of work on the suspension. Plus of course there’s a sports exhaust. And if you want show-stopping gimmicks, it still retains the Magic Sky Control glass roof which uses an electrochromic process for dimming.

2016 Mercedes AMG SLC 43 Review

What’s it like to drive?

Despite losing the V8, on paper it seems to have all the spec you’d need and plenty of performance. Admittedly even in the real world it provides suitably adequate straightline get-go that can leave most naysayers silenced in their criticism.

Even the exhaust has a full repertoire of rumbles, burbles, parps and farts with a bit of crackle and pop thrown in. Motoring along with the roof down, it makes for a potent combination that can excite and satisfy.

2016 Mercedes AMG SLC 43 Review

 

And that’s all fine and dandy in a straight line or for posing around town. Show it a sequence of twisties in the hope that it will fulfil its destiny as a proper sports roadster however, and it is found a little wanting.

Yes the suspension keeps things in control and flat, yes the ride is a good compromise and yes the steering is well-weighted and reasonably responsive and accurate. But if you’re hoping for feel and feedback as the icing on your cake of driving delight, you won’t find it here. Plus the slightest hint of sensible understeer does creep in on occasion and locked-down grip at the back is not always a great thing in a powerful rear-drive sports car.

2016 Mercedes AMG SLC 43 Review

Verdict

On paper this car seems to tick all the boxes and for the most part is a solid choice with a reasonably entertaining drive. However it’s not the sharp driver’s tool you might have expected. And with the slew of latest new models coming from Mercedes, all featuring the latest kit, tech and innovation, the interior of this poor old SLK… sorry SLC feels very dated and unimpressive.

Plus, what’s with the wimpy stereo? Mercedes has one of the best systems around in the form of the Burmester on its top-flight models, so why does the flagship of Merc’s baby roadster get a system that’s not much better than a set of speakers you might have picked up at Dragon Mart?

2016 Mercedes AMG SLC 43 Review

 

But forget all of that. The real problem this car faces is none of the above. It’s entirely another roadster, also from Germany, also having undergone mild tweaks, also getting a different heart powering the rear wheels, also getting a new badge.

That is new Porsche 718 Boxster S. Yes okay, that only gets a 2.0 Flat-Four engine, but it does put out a very decent 350bhp. And the 718 S in standard guise with the PDK is three-tenths quicker to 100kph than this car. You pay about AED12,000 more, but then you’re getting a Porsche with an evocative number on the rump.

Frankly Mercedes should have taken the opportunity to let the SLK die off with the bit of dignity and saved the new SLC initials for something all-new a year or two hence.

2016 Mercedes AMG SLC 43 Review

2016 Mercedes AMG SLC 43 – The Specs

Price: AED246,257 ($67k)
Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 367bhp @ 5500rpm, 384lb ft @ 2000rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 4.7secs, 250kph, 7.8L/100km
Transmission:  9-speed auto, Rear-wheel drive
Weight: 1595kg

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