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MSRP: $48,950 - 63,900

7.9

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.2
Performance: 8.1
Interior: 7.8
Safety: N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class Review

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC ranks low among luxury sports cars. It has a small, dated interior and overall performance that just doesn’t make the grade.

Pros & Cons

  • Balanced handling
  • Straightforward features
  • Peppy engines
  • Small cabin
  • Aging interior design

New for 2019

  • AMG SLC 43 now has 23 more horsepower
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control, adaptive headlights, and automatic high beams standard in AMG model

Is the Mercedes-Benz SLC a Good Car?

The Mercedes-Benz SLC roadster is an OK car, but when matched against the rest of the luxury sports car class, it disappoints. Its base engine can feel a little underwhelming, and while the SLC has athletic handling, it’s no match for its track-ready rivals. Inside, an aging design with an abundance of dashboard buttons detract from what is otherwise a nice cabin. Two seats fill up the interior, and they don’t leave a lot of other space for occupants to get comfortable.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz SLC?

There’s the old adage “you get what you pay for.” The 2019 SLC starts at a hair under $49,000, which is a bargain for the class. For that money, though, it’s not really worth considering the SLC when there are lots of other attractive options. The starting price of the Porsche Boxster is $10,000 higher, but it has a lineup of brutish engines, world-class handling, and a top-notch interior. If you’re set on a Mercedes convertible, consider the C-Class Cabriolet, which has a truly elegant cabin, tons of standard features, and two extra seats.

Compare the SLC, Boxster, and C-Class »

Should I Buy a New or Used Mercedes-Benz SLC?

The Mercedes-Benz SLC was introduced for the 2017 model year to replace the outgoing Mercedes SLK. It saw no major changes for the 2018 model year, and changes for 2019 are limited to the AMG SLC 43 model. It got a bump in horsepower from 362 to 385 and some additional standard features, such as dual-zone automatic climate control, adaptive headlights, and automatic high beams are now standard.

You’re probably better off shopping for a used SLC, which likely costs thousands of dollars less than the new version. Before making your decision, read our reviews of the 2017 SLC and 2018 SLC. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used cars.

Compare the 2017, 2018, and 2019 SLC »

We Did the Research for You: 32 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 32 Mercedes-Benz SLC reviews – along with performance specs, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2019 SLC is the right new car for you. This 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2017 through 2019 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz SLC Cost?

The standard 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC 300 starts at $48,950, which is very low for the luxury sports car class. Adding most major options and packages to the car pushes its price to over $68,000. The high-performance 2019 Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 starts at $63,900.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

Mercedes-Benz SLC Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz SLC or Porsche Boxster?

The Porsche Boxster starts at $59,000, around $10,000 more than the SLC’s starting price. It’s worth the added cost, however, as the Boxster is an all-around better car. It has a potent standard engine, and the roughly-$72,000 Boxster S trim has a 350-horsepower turbocharged engine that pairs well with the $64,000 AMG SLC trim. The Boxster has dynamic handling, a balanced ride, and a high-end cabin. Its comfortable seats and roomy cabin also make the Boxster a comfortable two-seater on drives long drives. No matter what you prioritize in a luxury roadster – performance or opulence – the Boxster has it in spades compared to the SLC.

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz SLC or Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet?

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet is a four-seat luxury convertible that starts at $51,850, which is around $3,000 more than the SLC. You get more for your money with the C 300 Cabriolet, which comes standard with dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity key entry, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, a 10.25-inch infotainment screen, and automatic emergency braking. The C-Class has one of the nicest interiors among luxury small cars as well. When it comes to performance, the C-Class focuses on ride comfort rather than outright agility. However, you can equip this Mercedes with all-wheel drive (unavailable in the SLC), and there are three high-performance AMG versions of the C-Class Cabriolet available as well. For its well-rounded character, modern features, and tons of ways to customize it, we suggest going with the drop-top C-Class instead of the SLC roadster.

Compare the SLC, Boxster, and C-Class »

SLC Interior

How Many People Does the SLC Seat?

The Mercedes-Benz SLC is a two-seat roadster. The seats are designed to keep you comfortable for long cruises, but there’s also a good amount of side bolstering to keep you in place during hard cornering. Taller drivers or passengers will probably want more headroom in this tiny cabin, especially because the driver’s seat is already in a slightly high position.

Synthetic leather upholstery and power-adjustable seats are standard. You can opt for heated seats, or several variants of genuine leather. The optional Airscarf feature adds air vents by the seat headrests to blow warm air around your neck for year-long top-down driving.

SLC and Car Seats

The Mercedes-SLC doesn't have any LATCH connections for installing car seats.  

SLC Interior Quality

The SLC’s cabin quality and general aesthetics are kind of a mixed bag. On one hand, the design seems dated compared to rivals that were updated more recently. The SLC is still somewhat reminiscent of the SLK model that it replaced. There are some sufficiently high-end materials that make the grade for a Mercedes, but the SLC doesn’t completely wow you like most other Mercedes models do.

SLC Cargo Space

You probably don’t expect a lot of utility from this Mercedes roadster, but it still offers more trunk space than many other luxury sports cars. When the retractable hardtop roof is up, the SLC has 10.1 cubic feet of trunk space, which is enough for a couple of standard-sized suitcases. Put the top down, and the trunk shrinks to 6.4 cubic feet, which is only enough space for a few smaller bags.

SLC Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The SLC’s standard COMAND infotainment system has a 7-inch display screen, HD Radio, and Bluetooth. To control the system, you use a rotary knob on the center console. Though this is an older version of the COMAND system, it responds to and processes your inputs quickly. Some functions are tricky to find, since you have to dig through various menus. The dashboard is heavy on traditional physical buttons and knobs, most of which are labeled clearly. However, some are silver with silver writing that can be hard to see at times.

The SLC has a long list of optional features, including dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, navigation, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a 10-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound stereo.

Read more about interior »

SLC Performance

SLC Engine: The Odd Couple

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC 300 features a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. It’s a little underwhelming for a high-end sports car, and with the SLC’s turbo lag, you’ll feel some hesitation when you hit the gas hard from a stop. The standard nine-speed automatic transmission that executes precise and timely shifts, though it’s equally happy to downshift properly when the situation calls for it.

Under the hood of the high-performance Mercedes-Benz AMG SLC 43 is a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine good for 385 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. The AMG sees a 23-horsepower bump from 362 in the 2018 SLC. It has more authoritative acceleration and should throw you back in your seat with its muscle. The nine-speed automatic is also retuned by AMG for better response and performance.

SLC Gas Mileage: Among the Best

The 2019 SLC 300 gets an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. Those are better numbers than what nearly all other luxury sports cars can muster. Even the AMG SLC is relatively efficient, with fuel economy estimates of 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

SLC Ride and Handling: Good, but not Great

The SLC tackles corners with enthusiasm and has well-weighted steering. There’s a good amount of feedback, and the car stays centered in its lane at high speeds. While this roadster delivers a sporty drive, it pales in comparison to what most classmates offers.

This Mercedes has a relatively comfortable ride, helping bolster its luxury chops. The sport-tuned AMG model has a stiffer suspension and a firmer ride, so you’ll feel more bumps in the road. Still, the ride still isn’t completely unbearable.

Read more about performance »

SLC Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz SLC Reliable?

The 2019 SLC has an above-average predicted reliability rating of 3.5 out of five from J.D. Power.

Mercedes-Benz SLC Warranty

Mercedes-Benz covers the SLC with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty.

Read more about reliability »

SLC Safety

SLC Crash Test Results

Like most luxury sports cars, neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC.

SLC Safety Features

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC comes standard with a rearview camera, driver drowsiness monitoring and automatic emergency braking. Optional advanced safety features include blind spot monitoring, adaptive headlights, automatic high beams, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, parking sensors, automatic parking assist, and Mercedes' Pre-Safe feature.

Read more about safety »

Which Mercedes-Benz SLC Model Is Right for Me?

The Mercedes-Benz SLC only comes in two models, the base SLC 300 and the high-performance AMG SLC 43. For around $49,000, the standard SLC comes with a decent number of standard features for a roadster, including a panoramic roof and an infotainment system.

The standard synthetic leather seats can be upgraded to either genuine leather, or even to high-end Nappa leather. It’s also worth considering the Premium package and its heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, proximity keyless entry, and blind spot monitoring.

You can add Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as standalone options for just $350 altogether. That’s a much better deal than the $2,200 Multimedia package, which gives you those two features plus integrated navigation. The package’s high price tag doesn’t seem worth it when you have smartphone connectivity features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Mercedes-Benz SLC 300 Roadster

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC 300 starts at $48,950. It comes with a 241-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. Standard features include synthetic leather seats, a retractable hardtop, a panoramic roof, power-adjustable front seats, and an infotainment system with a 7-inch display screen, Bluetooth, and HD Radio. Standard safety features include a rearview camera, automatic emergency braking, and driver drowsiness and attention monitoring.

The Premium package costs $2,800 and adds heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, satellite radio, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, Mercedes' Airscarf feature, and blind spot monitoring. The $2,200 Multimedia package gives you navigation, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay. You can purchase Android Auto and Apple CarPlay independently of the package for just $350.

The Exterior Lighting package ($1,650) includes adaptive headlights and automatic high beams. For $1,850, the Driver Assistance package adds adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and Mercedes' Pre-Safe feature.

Several features are available as individual options: genuine leather seats cost $770; Nappa leather upholstery is $1,400, and designo Nappa leather is $2,800; a 10-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound stereo costs $850; blind spot monitoring is $550; parking sensors and automatic parking assist cost $970; and an adaptive suspension is $990.

Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 Roadster

The 2019 Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 starts at $63,900, and it comes with a 385-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine, rear-wheel drive, and an AMG-tuned nine-speed automatic transmission. The AMG SLC also adds aggressive exterior design and styling, Nappa leather upholstery, heated seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, push-button start, Airscarf, satellite radio, the Harman Kardon stereo, adaptive headlights, automatic high beams, and blind spot monitoring.

The AMG Handling package includes a dashboard analog clock, a performance steering wheel, red brake calipers, a limited slip differential, and an AMG sport suspension. Other optional features include navigation, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and automatic parking assist.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Mercedes-Benz dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Mercedes-Benz deals page.

See 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC specs and trims »

The Final Call

The SLC offers few advantages over more well-rounded luxury sports cars. It has a low starting price for the class and a decent predicted reliability rating, but your money is probably better spent elsewhere.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "… the 2019 Mercedes SLC [is] the old guy yelling at everyone else to get off his lawn. In-car technology is one area you'll notice where the SLC comes off as a bit of an antique. Having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the options list helps, but the SLC is using a tech interface that's about three generations behind Mercedes' latest and greatest. Elsewhere in the cabin, the design and quality just aren't up to the current Mercedes standards." -- Edmunds
  • "When the Mercedes-Benz SLK first hit the market in 1997, it featured a sporty exterior that was at odds with its more luxury-oriented character. The SLK has become the SLC, and it provides a much better balance between handling and comfort while continuing to offer the versatile hardtop convertible configuration that made the original a hit." -- Left Lane News (2018)
  • "Although [the SLC is] not the sharpest-handling premium roadster (the more expensive Porsche 718 Boxster probably takes that accolade), it's still talented in the dynamics department. It also has an air of effortless class and luxury that seems absolutely appropriate for a Mercedes-Benz." -- Autotrader (2018)
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