Mercedes-Benz isn’t just cutting some of its high-performance sedans. The German automaker has already canceled its X-Class pickup truck. And after 2020, one more model will be gone: the 2-seat convertible Mercedes SLC. Formerly known as the SLK, it’s a more compact version of the 4-seat SL. But why has the Mercedes SLC failed, when some other 2-seat convertibles like the Mazda Miata are still going?
2020 Mercedes SLC specs and features
In its final year of production, Mercedes-Benz offers the SLC in two trims.
There’s the regular $49,950 Mercedes SLC300, and the $64,450 AMG SLC 43. The SLC300 has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, making 241 hp and 273 lb-ft. Meanwhile, the SLC 43 has a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6, developing 385 hp and 384 lb-ft. Both models have a 9-speed automatic and are exclusively rear-wheel drive.
Standard features on the SLC300, Car and Driver reports, include heated power-folding mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, as well as built-in navigation. If you want real leather upholstery, though, that’s extra. Also extra is Mercedes’ Airscarf system, vents located just behind the headrests that blow warm air when the hardtop’s down. But, if you get Mercedes’ optional electronically-dimming glass-panel roof, you may not need to put the top down.
Blind-spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking are standard, but Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are optional extras. The SLC300 does get selectable driving modes as standard, though, which change the throttle, shifting, and steering settings. And, if you get the convertible with the optional adjustable suspension, the drive modes interact with that, too.
In the Mercedes AMG SLC 43, the Airscarf system is standard, as are heated seats. On top of the upgraded engine, the SLC 43 also gets stiffer sport suspension, quicker shifts from the 9-speed, and a 10-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system. For extra sportiness, the SLC 43 can be fitted with the AMG Handling package, which adds electronically-adjustable suspension, a limited-slip differential, and an extra engine radiator.
Mercedes SLC Final Edition
For the 2020 year, both Mercedes SLC models can be ordered in Final Edition spec.
It’s mostly a cosmetics package, Motor Trend and Car and Driver report. It offers two exclusive colors: Selenite Gray for the SLC300, and Sun Yellow for the SLC 43. The latter is in homage to the yellow offered on the first SLK in 1996.
The Mercedes SLC300 Final Edition will get a few AMG-style parts, like lowered suspension and AMG wheels. Outside, both convertibles will get a few trim pieces finished in black. Inside, both will come with black-and-silver Nappa leather seats and carbon-fiber interior trim. However, it’s not all visual touches: the Final Editions will get the Airscarf and memory power seats included.
The SLC has fallen behind
The lack of standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is perhaps the first clue as to why the Mercedes SLC is being dropped. Simply put, like the Chrysler 300 sedan, although the 2-seat convertible has its charms, it’s dated compared to the competition.
Kelley Blue Book reports that, although Mercedes markets the SLC as a sports car, the SLC300 isn’t nearly as sporty as the Porsche 718 Boxster or BMW Z4. Although the SLC is more comfortable, its infotainment isn’t quite up to modern standards. In addition, Car and Driver reports the SLC doesn’t have much trunk space, even for a 2-seater convertible. The Jaguar F-Type and Audi TT both have larger trunks.
The Mercedes AMG SLC 43 does go some way to making the 2-seater handle better. However, the suspension worsens the ride quality, degrading some of the ‘luxury’ in ‘luxury sports car’. Furthermore, Autotrader reports that even for a 2-seater convertible, the SLC’s cabin is noticeably cramped.
To be fair, the SLC is cheaper than either the Porsche or Jaguar. However, both the Audi and BMW match it in price. And seeing as the BMW is essentially a Toyota Supra, it’s sportier than the Mercedes. And although the TT actually has fewer standard safety features than the SLC, Car and Driver reports it’s roomier and more fuel-efficient. Also, if you’re really after a sporting, fun experience, a new Mazda Miata is significantly cheaper.
Mercedes-Benz has its own alternative
Plus, for those who want more luxury and space, Mercedes has the 4-seat C-Class Cabriolet. Although the C300 doesn’t have a hardtop, it has more standard features and is only $4000 more than the SLC300. And there’s an all-wheel-drive model available for $2000 more.
All this is perhaps why Mercedes-Benz hasn’t announced any future plans regarding an SLC successor. Mercedes itself makes other luxury convertible options. And other manufacturers offer similarly-sporty, or sportier, 2-seaters.
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