What's the used Mercedes SLC sports like?
Beneath its handsome skin, the Mercedes SLC was a mildly facelifted version of the third-generation Mercedes SLK, a successful two-seat roadster that brought enjoyable open-air motoring to those desirous of low-cost fun but still wanting a premium badge.
Like the SLK, the 2016 to 2020 SLC looked the part; pert, pretty and suitably sporty, as much at home outside the casinos of Monte Carlo as the supermarkets of Macclesfield.
You could choose from a range of mildly sportive or supremely powerful engines, with the entry-level petrol being a 154bhp 1.6-litre in the SLC 180. Then there was the slightly more lusty 181bhp SLC 200, a very lively 242bhp SLC 300 and a wonderfully quick 362bhp SLC 43.
There were only two trims: AMG Line and Sport. The latter is handsomely equipped, while AMG Line models cover all the basics, including air conditioning, cruise control, sports seats and 18in alloy wheels, although you’d have had to pay extra for sat-nav or heated seats when it was new.
On the road, the SLC 180 can propel you to 62mph in 7.9sec and on to a top speed of 140mph. It can also return a claimed 48.7mpg; although you’ll struggle to get close to that in real-world conditions.
Even with those rather brisk performance statistics, this SLC doesn’t feel especially fast, though. Choose the standard six-speed manual gearbox rather than the swish automatic option and it can also feel a little ponderous. The SLC 200 is a little quicker and a bit smoother in its response, while those after performance above all else will find it in the SLC 300 and SLC 43 versions, but they will also find spend a lot of time and money at the fuel pumps.
In corners, the SLC grips well, but it’s not quite as pleasant to drive as you might hope. Its steering is quite heavy, with the handling safe, secure and predictable. However, it doesn’t have the levels of fun offered by rivals such as the Audi TT and BMW Z4 or even, for that matter, smaller and cheaper roadsters including the Mazda MX-5.
On top of that, like the SLK, the SLC rides badly and struggles to remain decently composed across potholes or broken asphalt at low speeds, no thanks to its standard-fit sports suspension and 18in alloy wheels.
Wind and road noise are fairly well contained with the roof up, but there is a certain amount of shake and shimmy and the odd creek from the bodywork.
The driver is treated to a comfortable sports seat – although taller drivers will find it simply doesn’t go back far enough – and there’s a neat sporty steering wheel. The SLC's buttons and rotary climate control dials don't feel that nicely damped and a lot of its dash plastics neither look nor feel very plush.
The SLC’s infotainment system is also looking very old next to more modern Mercedes models. Mercedes' Comand set-up offers neither the intuitiveness nor graphical slickness of rival systems from BMW and Audi, and is clunky and irksome to use in places.
The boot is a healthy size, though, and should hold enough luggage for a week away for two. The only problem is that the space available drops considerably with the roof down.
What used Mercedes SLC sports will I get for my budget?
You’ll need about £17,000 to buy a 2016 SLC with a low to average mileage, a full history and bought from a franchised dealer. Spend between £18,000 and £20,000 on 2017 cars, £20,000 to £25,000 on 2018 and 2019 models and between £25,000 and £30,000 on the last 2020 cars.
How much does it cost to run a Mercedes SLC sports?
All SLCs are petrol-powered, so fuel economy is not their strongest point. The SLC 180 is on paper the most efficient, with a claimed average fuel consumption figure of 48.7mpg and CO2 emissions of 132g/km, according to the NEDC fuel tests that were prevalent at the time.
Tax for cars registered before April 2017 will vary according to CO2 figures, while cars registered after that date will pay a flat rate that's currently £155 per year. Make sure the new cost of your SLC didn't rise above £40,000, though, or you’ll be paying an annual surcharge on top, too, from years two to six, currently £335 a year.
Mercedes runs a number of servicing options for its cars, of varying cost, that allows you to budget for future services and spread the cost of the payments. There are plenty of independent specialists who will service your SLC for you.
Which used Mercedes SLC sports should I buy?
The SLC 200, being slightly quicker and nearly as economical as the SLC 180, it’s the one we’d look for. We’d try to find one in AMG Line, because it brings a number of goodies that will prove useful, although we would look for one that’s had the optional sat-nav fitted.
Our favourite Mercedes-Benz SLC 200 AMG Line
What alternatives should I consider to a used Mercedes SLC sports?
The Audi TT consistently wins our group tests and at our What Car? Awards, and it’s easy to see why. It’s stylish, comfortable, brilliant to drive, has a stunning interior and is refined with the roof up or down. There are plenty to choose from on the used forecourts, too.
The BMW Z4 is an old-school roadster that is great to drive, with a range of interesting and efficient engines, as well as excellent handling. Like the TT, there are plenty to choose from.