The downsizing trend continues. One of the latest casualties is the once ballistic SLK 55 AMG. I encountered its renamed replacement, the SLC 43 AMG.
Lately there seem to be significant downsizing and renaming trends in the vicinity of Stuttgart. First Zuffenhausen announced that the Boxster will loose two cylinders and henceforth be known as the 718. Now, its direct competition in the neighbouring village of Affalterbach, choked their iconic SLK 55 AMG.
Like the Porsche it looses two cylinders and receives a new name: SLC 43. Instead of a naturally aspirated 5.5-l. V8, you will now find a 4.3-l. bi-turbo V6 under the shapely hood. Hold on, no. In the SLK 55 the double five stood for 5.5-l., in the SLC 43, it signifies 3.0-l..The exact same powerplant is transfroming the bigger top-less brother of the SLC, into a SL 400. Does it make sense? No.
Personally, I think there is this poor German engineer sitting in a windowless room in Affalterbach. Once in a while someone pops in and says:” Hans-Jürgen, we’ve got a new model. Sink about a new name. And remember it has to sound logical at first, but at a closer look make no sense at all”.
The letters are more comprehensible. As the SLK is based on the C-class, it is now the SLC. Like the GLC in the SUV class. But why is the SL not a SLE then and the S-class Cabriolet not a SLS? Stop it now.
The SLK with its ingenius retractable steel hardtop, dubbed vario-roof, was introduced in 1996. It still opens and shuts at speeds up to 40km/h. So the sun worshipper turned 20 this year. Since then 700 000 SLKs were sold worldwide. The SLC is the fourth generation of the ‘entry-level’ top-less Mercs. It looks much sharper with the new diamond grille and a couple of design tweaks. Worlds apart from the rather conservative looking first production model in 1996.
Six-cylinder AMG engines are not very common yet. AMG is still very much about powerful V8s with incredible sound. So I am pushing the start button in anticipation, switch to Sport plus and move off swiftly. The six-cylinder is still producing cracking and popping sounds, but they are slightly less earth-shattering than in the SLK 55. It’s definitely not a V8 sound, but it is pleasing to the ears of petrolheads nevertheless. Closer to a DTM racer, I would say. Having been succumbed to a significant power loss doesn’t mean the 43 is powerless. In fact it is just a fraction slower than its predecessor. But everything happens in a less spectacular way.
Borrowing front and rear axle from the C63 and with or without the limited slip differential, this new Mercedes roadster is a stunning driving machine. While the SL is a more distinguished Gran Turisme gentlemen’s open ride, the SLC is still the one for hooligans. I wish they wouldn’t have launched it in Gauteng. This car screams for mountain passes with tight switchbacks, sunshine and blue skies. With heated seats, wind deflactor and the brilliant air scarf, blowing warm air out of the neck-rest, even topless winter days are great fun.
And if the top SLC model, which scratches just under the R1 Mio. mark, is slightly out of your current reach, Mercedes-Benz South Africa offers two more models with 2.0-l. four-cylinder engines: the SLC 200 (135kW; R680 600) and the SLC 300 (180kW; R753 400).
Mercedes Benz SLC 43 AMG
Engine 3.0-l. V6 bi-turbo, paired with a 9-speed auto
Power 270kW and 520Nm
Top Speed 250 km/h (electronically limited)
0-100km/h 4.7 seconds
Price R988 000
And here are two pics of the slightly more affordable SLC 300: