From £47,6457
New AMG-fettled SLC swaps old SLK's V8 for a smaller V6, yet its performance remains big. As a package, though, it's still left wanting

Our Verdict

Mercedes-AMG SLC 43

Facelifted roadster ushers in a new generation of turbo V6 AMGs

  • First Drive

    2016 Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 UK review

    New AMG-fettled SLC swaps old SLK's V8 for a smaller V6, yet its performance remains big. As a package, though, it's still left wanting
  • First Drive

    2016 Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 review

    The SLK becomes the SLC and the range-topper swaps a naturally aspirated V8 for a turbocharged 3.0 V6. We drive the SLC 43 to see if it's a better car

What is it?

Amputation is not an operation to be taken lightly. Look at Porsche: having lopped two cylinders from its new 718 Boxster, it has made half the world extremely cross and the other half very depressed indeed. Will its Stuttgart neighbour undergo a less painful procedure? Yes, folks, the naturally aspirated V8 SLK 55 is dead, and from the ashes this new bi-turbo V6 Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 is born.

Read our full Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 review here

So it has lost a couple of cylinders, but a sextet is still an agreeable number of pots, right? And then there’s the price: nearly £9000 less than the SLK 55. Think about that. It's the equivalent of £4495 in compensation for each cylinder you're down, which even in today's PPI-savvy world is a lot.

What about the performance? At 367bhp, the 3.0-litre V6 is a little less powerful than the old 5.5-litre V8, but with more torque, less weight and a new nine-speed automatic gearbox, the run to 62mph takes just 0.1sec longer. If that still rankles, then rejoice in the SLC's better fuel economy and emissions.

Other than that, not much has changed. A few styling tweaks inside and out freshen its looks, but you need to know your onions to spot them.

What's it like?

Let’s start with the biggest change: the new engine. It’s a fine thing. Okay, you don’t get the honeyed woofle of the old V8, but the higher-pitched, raspy howl at full chat is nice, as are the pops and bangs on the downshift, especially with the roof down. It’s not always music to your ears, mind, because a constant drone on part-throttle can get on your nerves. 

We’ve no complaints about its power delivery or pace, though. Step on it and there’s just a touch of lag as the turbos puff up, after which the rev counter romps around to the redline and the SLC 43 delivers a fine turn of speed.

As it does so, the automatic gearbox manages to maintain composure and slip seamlessly through its gears, but it’s more hit and miss in manual mode. Most of the time when you pull the right-hand paddle, bang, it fires you cleanly up a gear. Then, just as you're telling your passenger, "Not even a DSG would do it better than this", it slurs into the next gear and makes you look a fool.

AMG has a pedigree of sorting chassis and it hasn't blotted the copybook here. The SLC 43 is firmer than less powerful versions but has vastly better body control. This is good news. Not only is the handling immeasurably improved thanks to less body roll, but without the standard car's rear axle hop, it rides better, too. The steering is another improvement. It feels lighter and has a more progressive build-up of weight as you pile on lock.

The problem here isn’t the settings, though: it’s the foundations. The SLC is a comparatively old car now – and it feels it. You don’t need some fancy machine to work out that it’s less rigid than a Boxster. The shimmy through the steering wheel and the little squeaks from the roof tell you all you need to know. Because of this shortfall in rigidity, no amount of AMG's fettling can deliver the degree of handling precision that you’ll get from the Boxster. 

Should I buy one?

More often than not, AMG translates to 'OMG, we love it!' Sadly, not this time. The SLC 43 is okay and it can even be quite fun at times; it is a quick, rear-wheel-drive drop-top, after all. But in a class that includes the 718 Boxster, ‘okay’ isn’t anywhere near good enough.

The final nail in its coffin is cost. Yes, it is plenty cheaper than the old SLK 55, but it’s still £4600 more expensive than a standard manual-equipped 718 Boxster and barely any quicker. No matter how you try to square it, that’s hard to justify.

So it turns out the problem here isn't that a downsized engine has changed the SLC too much. It's that by morphing from SLK to SLC, it hasn't changed enough. 

Mercedes-AMG SLC 43

Location Hampshire; On sale Now; Price £46,360; Engine V6, 2969cc, twin-turbo, petrol; Power 362bhp at 5500-6000rpm; Torque 384lb ft at 2000-4200rpm; Gearbox 9-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1595kg; 0-62mph 4.7sec; Top speed 155mph; Economy 36.2mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 178g/km, 32%

Join the debate

Comments
7

17 June 2016
An slk is an slk not an slc and the m class is now a what , something like gle .probably will take time to get used to it.feels very clumsy.

17 June 2016
"it’s still £4600 more expensive than a standard manual-equipped 718 Boxster"
Forget about the base price of a Boxter, you won't find a single unit for sale in that spec, and besides it's so spartan no self-respecting buyer would leave it like that. Once you add something, these options are silly expensive; equip it like the SLC and I'm pretty sure that the Merc will be cheaper. Then there's the fact that it's a 2.0 four vs a 3.0 V6.

One thing bothers me about the AMG, though: why did they get such a low output out of the twin-turbo 3.0 when their four pot (in the A class and its derivatives) already has the same power? I would have hoped at least a nice even 400bhp would have been easy and upped the standing of this car. C'mon, AMG, you can do better than that.

18 June 2016
Ektor wrote:

One thing bothers me about the AMG, though: why did they get such a low output out of the twin-turbo 3.0 when their four pot (in the A class and its derivatives) already has the same power? I would have hoped at least a nice even 400bhp would have been easy and upped the standing of this car. C'mon, AMG, you can do better than that.

I'm pretty certain that decision was made at Porche headquarters, not representing that Porche couldn't make that engine lot more powerful. This being a marketing decision, not engineering one. About maintaining a distance to the 911. Not to have the Boxter rob to many sales from the 911.

17 June 2016
Having just driven our company's SLK 250CDI(!) for the first time in ages, you are spot on about the squeaks from the roof giving away the lack of rigidity in the body shell. Never used to hear that in my Boxster!

17 June 2016
This is not the fu11 fat AmG it should be. The AMG 43 ls a Model in its own right but this ls a lame effort. Give us a real AMG and give lt the 4.0 V8. O and move those exterior mirrors. They dont even badge the gearlever out of guilt. Come on give us be比er. its cheaper because its not an AMG.

17 June 2016
And the build and roof up rigidity is immense. Certainly no 'little squeaks' I have never owned such a comfortable, clever and rewarding to own car.

19 June 2016
quote
"The problem here isn’t the settings, though: it’s the foundations. The SLC is a comparatively old car now – and it feels it. You don’t need some fancy machine to work out that it’s less rigid than a Boxster. The shimmy through the steering wheel and the little squeaks from the roof tell you all you need to know. Because of this shortfall in rigidity, no amount of AMG's fettling can deliver the degree of handling precision that you’ll get from the Boxster. " unquote. Nuff said and at about 50k why bother

what's life without imagination

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