2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC 300

A proper Mercedes roadster



  • 박재승 (james@koreatimes.net) --
  • 11 Oct 2017

By James Park


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   Like a well-worn high quality leather jacket, Mercedes-Benz, as a brand, gives off that whiff of old country luxury and high-end exclusivity.

   Another German rival, Audi, is doing gangbusters nowadays and perhaps that’s why M-B is making serious effort to attract younger (and slightly less affluent) clientele with the likes of CLA sedan, GLA crossover and the B-Class hatchback. One can’t just be seen idling while a legitimate competitor tries to muscle in into your territory.

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   Nevertheless, no matter how sincere M-B is in its attempt to appeal to the youthful portion of the luxury auto market, it would be foolhardy for the company to even appear to be neglecting its traditional base of loyal customers. True or not, the notion that M-B buyers are old and rich elites has inertia of an aircraft carrier. 

   All this is to say that M-B, I believe, is almost incapable of producing wildly cartoonish and arguably gaudy machines like the Subaru STI and the new Honda Civic Type R, which I’ve just recently driven. No, that’ll be like Prince Charles at a rap concert: awkward, embarrassed, out of place, and ultimately unappreciated.

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   Took a while, I know, but this brings us to the today’s subject – SLC 300 – which, of course, is a proper M-B roadster. Charles can certainly feel comfortable in this little hard-top convertible and even look good in it. The car is attractive in sedate and gentlemanly way. No adolescent hooligan mobile this. Fact is, even the most aggressively styled M-B sports models reflect off that unmistakable sheen of aristocratic condescension. I digress.

   Anyhow, on its own the SLC 300 is more than a capable Grand Tourer with usable power, good balance, impeachable pedigree and even respectable fuel-efficiency.

   Being a two-seater, one can easily opt out of ferrying passengers to soccer games and those pesky family get-togethers and whatnot. As a convertible, the SLC allows the wind-in-hair experience whenever the driver’s mood strikes.

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   It also boasts the power-retractable hard-top that keeps the interior noise level low enough to enjoy the excellent Harman-Kardon audio system. Not as insulating as the S-Class, perhaps, but nicely tolerable all the same.

   Another ‘typical’ M-B luxury equipment that extends the alfresco season is what’s called the ‘AIRSCARF.’ The seats have neck-level openings through which warm air is pumped out. Even in near freezing temperatures, the ‘scarf of warm air’ enables roof-down driving pleasure.   

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   Formerly known as the SLK, the SLC, as with the C-Class sedan and the GLC crossover, is equipped with the base 2.0 litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Producing maximum 241 horses and more importantly 273 lb-ft of healthy twist, this power-plant has enough mojo to propel the car to 100 kph in less than six seconds.

   Yes, you can opt for a bigger and more powerful (thus heavier) engine. As it is, with the lighter mill, the car has more ideal front-rear balance that helps with the overall handling. I can confirm that SLC is surprisingly agile and displays sure-footedness in most circumstances.  

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   Still, even this base model demands $58,800. The tester came with AMG styling package (looks faster but no added power) and other options to push the price up to $67,400 before taxes and other requisite fees. M-B, as with other premium brands, is probably prone to gouging.

   The car’s inside is a nice place to be, however. The heated leather seats are comfortable and supportive. The thick, leather-wrapped, flat-bottom steering wheel has excellent feel to it. The dashboard design and the gauge cluster look a little dated compared to the C-Class, but thanks for keeping the gear-lever where it supposed to be. Although, the lever should be more substantive, not the dinky little joystick it is now.

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   Another personal beef is with the M-B’s auto stop/start system that is more intrusive than the latest version from the General Motors. Unlike many of GM products, M-B does provide the button to disengage the system. However, one has to disable it every time one starts the vehicle.

   I don’t know why the SLC needs to have so many driving modes: from Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, Individual to Eco. Forget Eco and Comfort. Sport should be the default setting. In Sport Plus, the car sounds more raucous and the nine-speed automatic transmission holds each gear a little longer while shifting even more aggressively. This is fine when hurtling down the road at high rate of speed. When stuck in traffic, consider Comfort (and only then).

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   When the car gets going, though, it is fast, nimble and behaves like a proper rear-wheel-drive vehicle should. No, it is not a dedicated sports car, but for those occasions when you want to go for a spirited Sunday morning drive with your favourite person, the SLC is more than satisfying. (James Park is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada.)

  

2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC 300

Price: $58,800

As tested: $67,400

Engine: 2 litre turbo four

Power: 241 hp/273 lb-ft

Transmission: 9 spd auto

Drive: RWD

Fuel: 9.5 litres per 100km (city), 7.2 litres (highway)

Best: agile, quiet for a convertible

Worst: insubstantial gear lever

Competition: Mini Cooper S Convertible

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