2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC Class

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Brian León Brian León Contributing Writer
November 3, 2019

Buying tip

The BMW Z4 is completely redesigned and better than ever in an era where small sports cars are seriously declining in sales. The Jaguar F-Type

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class sings a pretty swan song—and you can hear it even when the top’s down.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class will be the last small sports car to wear the badge, at least for the near future. Mercedes says it will discontinue the SLC-CLass after this year, with no replacement in sight. 

Though much older than contemporaries such as the Porsche 718 and BMW Z4, the SLC isn’t without its charms, including its clever folding top and its ample power. We give it 5.6 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

For 2020, both the SLC 300 and hotter SLC 43 AMG add a Final Edition, which includes gray paint on the SLC 300 and bright yellow on the SLC 43. Both also get special styling details and badging to commemorate 24 years on the market.

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The SLC has been tweaked several times over the years and redesigned twice, resulting in a cabriolet with current Mercedes styling cues on what is clearly an older body. It still works: It sports forward-leaning proportions and just the right amount of attention to detail inside and out, though the interior has aged in the new era of touchscreens.

In SLC 300 form, a turbo-4 generates 241 horsepower for a 0-60 mph time of 5.7 seconds via rear-wheel drive and a 9-speed automatic transmission. We’d have the hotter SLC 43 from AMG, however, with its twin-turbo V-6 and 385 horsepower and improved driving dynamics. The SLC isn’t as engaging to drive as its direct competitors, though we’ve got no complaints from a ride comfort standpoint.

Fit for just two passengers, the 2020 SLC is snug in terms of leg and shoulder room, and trunk space is lacking, even for a small sports car. The quick action of the top does help make up for some of these shortcomings, as does the joy of open-roof motoring.

No crash test data exists for the SLC, and fuel economy ranges from 23 mpg to 27 mpg combined depending on the model you choose, but with trademark Mercedes convertible features like the “Airscarf” neck warmer system and a power hardtop with available active polarized glass roof, it’s hard to go wrong. If you’re one of the very few buyers who still covets a new SLC, this is your last chance.

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2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC Class

Styling

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class has aged better than most long-lived sports cars.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class has remained stylish over the years, thanks to its attention to detail and regular updates. We still like its pert, shapely body, so we give it 7 out of 10.

Sports cars generally have some of the longest product development cycles of any new vehicles because of their low sales volumes, and by the time they’re due to be replaced or cancelled, most look seriously outdated. The SLC-Class has managed to fight this phenomenon even in its final year ever, with forward-leaning proportions and trademark Mercedes details like the LED lights and grille that keep it contemporary.

The interior hasn’t fared quite as well, with a slew of center stack buttons and a small infotainment screen with last-generation software. It reads older, but material quality is great.

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2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC Class

Performance

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class is best in AMG form, but not as engaging as some competitors.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class ranges from tame weekend toy to downright joyful sports convertible, but some competitors offer more fun. We give it 6 out of 10 here, based on the SLC 300 that more drivers have purchased.

Mercedes’s smallest sports car comes in two flavors, one for the mainstream and one more hardcore. The base SLC 300 comes with a 2.0-liter turbo-4, a 9-speed automatic, and rear-wheel drive. This tried-and-true powertrain is good for 241 horsepower, which is enough to motivate it quickly off the line but not with as much character as the former V-6 in the old SLK 350.

The upgraded engine comes in the form of the SLC 43 AMG, which uses a twin-turbocharged V-6 with 385 horsepower. As its improved power figure would suggest, this engine is much quicker and more responsive, thanks to a tougher version of the same transmission. In Sport+ mode – one of five selectable drive modes along with Eco, Comfort, Sport, and Individual – it’s a raucous little sports car, and a Dynamic Handling package improves the suspension, brakes, and rear differential.

Ride quality is good thanks to adaptive dampers, but a short-wheelbase car with big wheels is still subject to plenty of choppiness regardless of how competent the suspension is. While fun, even the AMG version of the SLC isn’t as engaging as competitors like the Porsche 718 or new BMW Z4. It’s a better cruiser than carver.

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2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC Class

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class is a mixed bag of great interior quality and subpar storage space.

It’s hard to fault a Mercedes-Benz for quality, but the 2020 SLC-Class is an exercise in compromise. Great seats and materials offset terrible cargo space and limited interior space. We give it 4 out of 10 here. 

Stacked up against the competition, the SLC-Class offers average people space… for a two-seat convertible sports car, that is. Headroom is good (infinite with the top down), and knee room is decent, but leg room is in short supply for taller occupants. The trunk is similarly limited, with 10.1 cubic feet of capacity with the top up, but only 6.4 cubes with the hard-folding roof stowed away. There is a backpack-sized storage compartment under the cargo floor.

Interior quality is great, as is Mercedes’s way, with comfortable and supportive seats available with convertible-friendly features like “Airscarf” vents to keep your neck warm. The hard top folds away quickly and can be lowered or raised at speeds below 25 mph.

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2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC Class

Safety

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class has no crash test data but does include some active safety features as standard.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class has never been crash-tested and never will be due to its low sales volume. Without any data, we can’t give it a score here. 

However, there are extensive safety features made standard and optional on the SLC, including active head restraints and automatic emergency braking with forward-collision warnings. Options include adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control, but can cost nearly $10,000 all together on the SLC 300.

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2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC Class

Features

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class is loaded with features in Final Edition form.

In its final year, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class offers better features than ever and a new special edition to commemorate the end of the line. We give it 6 out of 10 here.

Every SLC 300 gets power leather seats, automatic climate control, two USB ports, and a Bluetooth infotainment system with a finicky wheel interface. Automatic emergency braking is also standard, as is a clever active head restraint system. A power folding hard top is also included, and stows away quickly at speeds up to 25 mph.

Options include other safety features, ambient lighting, and a Harman/Kardon sound system.

The SLC 43 AMG includes performance and appearance extras, as well as a twin-turbo V-6 and LED headlights. Most options are included on the AMG, and sport suspension and an optional handling package make this a bona fide sports car.

For 2020, the two SLC models each get a Final Edition package. The SLC 300 is adorned with special gray paint, AMG styling, and unique badging inside and out. The SLC 43 Final Edition comes in a brilliant Sun Yellow paint with gloss black trim, as well as AMG accents and Final Edition badging.

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2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC Class

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class manages average fuel economy for a small convertible sports car.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class manages moderate fuel economy for a small sports car, even in high-performance guise. We give it 5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With its turbo-4, the SLC 300 gets an EPA rating of 23 mpg city, 32 highway, 27 combined while requiring premium fuel.

The SLC 43 AMG manages predictably worse with its twin-turbo V-6 and 150 or so additional horsepower, clocking in at 20/29/23 mpg on premium fuel.

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5.6
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 4
Safety N/A
Features 6
Fuel Economy 5
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