Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: September 20, 2017
We reviewed the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 a few months ago, and we enjoyed its relaxed personality, burbling exhaust, potent twin-turbo V6 engine, and the refinement of the interior. It was an attractive personal convertible that masterfully combined the essence of droptop cruising with a rigid and capable chassis. However, I’m here to tell you that the cheaper (by $12,700), non-AMG, and less powerful SLC 300 is the one to get.
In fact, when I picked up the SLC 300 from Mercedes-Benz Canada, I thought they brought me the wrong car. The SLC 300 and SLC 43 look nearly identical, thanks to the fact that the SLC 300 was wearing the Sport Package ($1,800), which uses the same diamond front grill and chrome accents as the 43. There are only a few minor giveaways that show it’s the AMG version: the “quad” exhaust tips, wheels, lip spoiler, and rear and side badging.
But it’s not their similar looks that lead me to prefer the cheaper and less costly SLC 300. No, that boils down to the overall driving experience. Without a heavy V6 perched up front, the SLC 300 weighs 90 kg less than the SLC 43, and its petite 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder is a freight train in disguise. Sure it only has 241 hp and 273 lb-ft (121 hp and 111 lb-ft less than the SLC 43), but the boost builds linearly and quickly, and it charges forward without much delay. On paper, the SLC 300 goes from 0-100 km/h in 5.8 seconds, 1.1 seconds slower than the SLC 43, but judging from our butt dyno it feels only marginally slower. Power delivery is not as potent as the SLC 43 but the urgency is there alright.
The SLC 300 carries the burden of a hardtop roof and high center of gravity because of it, but now with 90 kilos shaved off, it has transformed into a sporty alternative to the Mazda MX-5 RF. Fling it around a corner and it changes direction with verve and vigour. The SLC 300 is tossable, corner-friendly, and its finger-light steering adds to the appeal of a boulevard cruiser. It’s like that perfectly balanced knife, the one with a smooth handle, a good weight on the knife edge, and though it may not be the sharpest or most expensive piece of metal on the block, you feel safe and comfortable with it in your grasp.
Turn-in is BRZ-like sharp and though the steering is numb by sports car standards, it feels perfectly acceptable in this laxed convertible. An adaptive suspension is optional on the SLC 300 and standard on the SLC 43, but our SLC 300’s fixed suspension feels perfectly tuned for both relaxed and spirited driving. In comparison, it’s like being in Sport Mode in the SLC 43. Bumps are noticeable but not taxing on the passengers, and the overall body feels buttoned down and under control.
The transmission is undeniably smooth - Mercedes uses one of the smoothest shifting ones in the premium segment - and in the most aggressive Sport+ modes, it predicts, holds, and downshifts gears intelligently. We did experience some jerkiness and hesitation to shift when in Sport+ and under partial throttle, but that’s nothing a little bit of software tinkering couldn’t fix.
The SLC 300 sounds much more aggressive than any other Mercedes using this 2.0-litre engine, and that’s because it comes standard with a sports exhaust. It really opens up in Sport+ mode and delivers a pleasant baritone growl. It’s worth to note that some of the exhaust note is coming from the speakers as well.
The rest of the SLC 300 is more or less similar to the 43 if you opt for the Sport Package. The same perks apply, like being able to operate the roof while driving, the excellent wind buffeting when the windows are up, and the added heated seats and heated air scarf options that extend top-down drives down into the late autumn months. The flat-bottom steering wheel feels great, the controls though dated and are from the last generation of MB vehicles, are still refined and top-shelf quality. I’m still not sure about that little knob of an excuse for a gear shifter, though, even though the more expensive SL roadster uses the same thing. The roof cannot be operated while driving either, meaning you’ll have to be fully stopped to use it.
The SLC 300 may not command serious road presence but it doesn’t take itself too seriously either. It’s more relaxed, much more approachable, and becomes less of a sports car and more of a driver’s car. The SLC 300 is everything you’d want from an everyday sun-seeking roadster. It may not have the extra adrenaline or the exhaust burbles from its AMG-lite variant, but it feels all the more balanced because of it. Peak power is easily attainable, the weight transfer is more predictable, and the overall driving experience feels all the more lithe and athletic because of it. Forget the premium expenses that come with the AMG badge, the SLC 300 is the droptop cruiser that you want in your garage.
型号 Model: 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC 300
顏色 Paint Type: Selenite Grey Metallic
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $58,800
試車售價 Price as Tested: $67,400
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,430
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,133 / 1,854 / 1,303
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,505
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 241 hp @ 5,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 1,300 - 4,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 9.5 / 7.2 / 8.5
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.2