The new entry-level SLC 180 has a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine, producing 154bhp and 184lb ft, mated to a manual six-speed gearbox. The car can sprint from 0-62mph in 7.9sec and on to a top speed of 140mph.
While this makes it 0.6sec slower from 0-62mph than the 2.0-litre-engined MX-5 RF, the SLC 180 offers better fuel economy, with 48.7mpg to the MX-5 RF’s 47.1mpg, and lower CO2 emissions, outputting 134g/km to the RF’s 161g/km.
The SLC 180’s smaller engine and manual gearbox make it the lightest model in the SLC range, weighing in at 1435kg. Like the rest of the 2017 SLC range, it's now only available in AMG Line trim, which adds AMG-designed bodywork and 17in alloy wheels.
Mercedes has confirmed to Autocar that the SLC 180 is on sale now, priced from £32,039, which is £2681 less than the previous entry-level model, the SLC 200.
That list price is £8644 more than the entry MX-5 RF and £2419 more than another rival, the Abarth 124 Spider, but a Mercedes spokesman said that the SLC would have lower monthly prices due to its better residual values, making it cheaper on a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) deal.
Production of the SLC 180 is scheduled to begin in June and first deliveries are expected at the end of July.
The current best selling SLC model in Britain is the SLC 250d, which accounts for close to 70% of total model sales. The UK is the SLC’s biggest market, with around 4000 units sold here each year.
Reports have suggested that the SLC won’t be replaced when the current car’s lifecycle ends, due to the small number of sales currently in the compact sports car segment. Mercedes was unable to comment on the matter.