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2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class Review

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC has composed handling and peppy engine performance. However, it ranks near the back of the luxury sports car class, in part because of its cramped cabin, stale interior styling, and outdated features.

Pros & Cons

  • Potent turbocharged engines
  • Balanced ride and handling
  • Good fuel economy
  • Outdated interior styling and features
  • Short on headroom
  • Roof eats up trunk space when lowered

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class's #16 ranking is based on its score within the Luxury Sports Cars category. Currently the Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class has a score of 7.6 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 36 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.6

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.4
Performance: 8.3
Interior: 5.9
Safety:
This model has never been fully tested for safety. Its overall score is being calculated without safety.
N/A
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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 Is the Mercedes-Benz SLC a Good Car?

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC is a decent luxury sports car. It has snappy acceleration, agile handling, and a cushioned ride. The SLC returns good fuel economy and has many standard safety features, like blind spot monitoring and forward collision warning. It also touts one of the lowest starting prices in its class.

On the downside, the SLC’s interior styling and tech features are outdated. Additionally, there isn’t much headroom – even by sports car standards – and the trunk provides minimal cargo space when the power-folding roof is stowed.

Should I Buy the Mercedes-Benz SLC?

Before you take home an SLC, check out some of its competitors, like the BMW Z4 and Porsche Boxster convertibles. The Z4 has similar pricing but offers a roomier cabin, fresher styling and features, and zestier handling. The Boxster is pricier, but its outstanding driving dynamics will be worth it to some shoppers. Both are better options than the SLC.

Compare the SLC, Z4, and Boxster »

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

Mercedes-Benz introduced the SLC roadster for the 2017 model year. It’s essentially a refreshed version of the Mercedes-Benz SLK. There haven’t been too many updates to the SLC since the name change, so you can save money by shopping for a used model while still finding similar features and performance.

The SLC 43 variant is the one exception. For 2019, it received a bump in output from 362 to 385 horsepower. Mercedes will reportedly discontinue the SLC after the 2020 model year with no immediate replacement.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2017 SLC, 2018 SLC, and 2019 SLC reviews to help make your decision. Also check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used vehicles.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 SLC »

We Did the Research for You: 36 Reviews Analyzed

We’ve analyzed 36 Mercedes-Benz SLC reviews, as well as hard data points like fuel economy estimates and reliability scores, to help you make the best car-buying decision possible. This 2020 SLC review incorporates applicable research for all models within this generation, which launched for 2017.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking and reviewing vehicles since 2007, and our team has decades of experience in the auto industry. Though we’re passionate about cars, we’re even more committed to providing helpful consumer advice. To maintain objectivity, we don’t accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies.

How Much Does the Mercedes-Benz SLC Cost?

The 2020 Mercedes SLC 300 has a $49,950 starting price, making it one of the least expensive models in the luxury sports car class, next to the Audi TT and Toyota Supra. The racier AMG SLC 43 variant starts higher, at $64,650, though that’s still reasonable for the segment. Just be careful with the options, as they can easily bump the car’s price up by $15,000 or more.

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.

Mercedes-Benz SLC Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Mercedes-Benz SLC or BMW Z4?

The BMW Z4 offers all the perks of the SLC with only a few of the drawbacks. The Z4 is quick and fun to drive, yet it's still comfy enough for everyday commuting. It is fuel-efficient, has similar pricing to the SLC, and comes bristling with high-tech infotainment and safety features. The kicker is that the Z4’s interior feels spacious and up-to-date. Plus, the trunk provides the same generous cargo space with the roof up or down. The BMW is the better convertible in this comparison.

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

The Porsche Boxster is one of the best luxury sports cars on the market. The Boxster is exceptionally agile and fun to weave through turns. Its steering is direct and responsive, and its suspension dances gracefully over bumps and dips in the pavement, giving you a feel for the road surface while still maintaining a comfortable ride. The Boxster doesn’t offer a lot of trunk space, but if you can live with that, it’s the better pick. The Porsche more than makes up for a small cargo hold with its nicer cabin materials, roomier seating, and fresher tech features.

Compare the SLC, Z4, and Boxster »

SLC Interior

How Many People Does the SLC Seat?

The Mercedes-Benz SLC is a two-seat convertible. Its seats are softly padded, and they remain comfortable on longer road trips while still providing good lateral support for sporty driving. On the downside, there isn’t much headroom for taller occupants, even with the seat cushions in their lowest positions. Synthetic leather upholstery is standard. Upgrades include genuine leather upholstery, heated seats, and Mercedes’ Airscarf system (neck-level heating vents).

The SLC’s power-folding hardtop retracts in about 20 seconds. This setup is heavier and more complex than a soft top, but it does a better job of keeping the interior quiet at highway speeds.

SLC and Child Car Seats

Like many two-seat sports cars, the SLC does not have LATCH car-seat connectors. We do not recommend installing a car seat in the front seat of any vehicle.

SLC Interior Quality

The Mercedes-Benz SLC has an upscale cabin made with quality materials, but the styling is behind the times compared to rivals. The dashboard layout and interior styling date back to the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK. Overall, it feels a bit cheap and out of step with the brand’s latest vehicles.

SLC Cargo Space

The Mercedes-Benz SLC has 10.1 cubic feet of trunk space. That’s fairly generous for a luxury sports car. The catch is that this area shrinks to 6.4 cubic feet when the power-retractable roof is lowered. You’ll need to pack light if you plan on dropping the top.

SLC Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The Mercedes-Benz SLC's standard infotainment system comes with a 7-inch display, Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, and eight speakers. Available features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a navigation system, satellite radio, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, and dual-zone automatic climate control.

This infotainment system gets mixed reviews. It has an outdated interface, some dense menus, and a wide array of physical buttons and knobs, which can be a little overwhelming at first. On the other hand, the screen responds promptly to inputs, and the air conditioning controls are about as simple as it gets.

Read more about interior »

SLC Performance

SLC Engine: A Tale of Two Turbos

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC is available in two configurations. The base model SLC 300 has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 241 horsepower. The uplevel SLC 43 has a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 with 385 horsepower. Both are equipped with a nine-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive.

The SLC 300’s engine may not knock your socks off, but it's just fine for everyday driving. It confidently shuttles the car around town and up to highway speeds. The sprint from zero to 60 mph takes about six seconds.

The SLC 43’s V6 is the sportier pick. It offers snappy throttle response, strong passing power, and it cuts a second off the car’s sprint to 60 mph. It also emits quite a nice sound through the sport exhaust pipes.

The standard nine-speed automatic earns praise for its quick and seamless gear changes. That said, the engine stop-start system can cause a slight hesitation when pulling away from a stop. Thankfully, it can be disabled.

Mercedes-Benz SLC Powertrain/Performance Options:
  • Base engine: turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque; starts at $49,950 (standard in SLC 300)
  • Available engines:
    • twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 with 385 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque; starts at $64,650 (standard in SLC 43)
  • Drivetrain: rear-wheel drive
  • Transmission: nine-speed automatic
Mercedes-Benz SLC Appearance Packages and Individual Options:
  • Final Edition package: two-tone genuine leather upholstery, sportier AMG bumpers and side skirts, and lightweight AMG wheels
  • AMG Line Exterior package (prices start at $2,175; available in SLC 300): AMG body styling, 18-inch AMG multispoke wheels, chrome-tipped diamond-block grille, and galvanized shift paddles
  • AMG Line Exterior w/ Night package (prices start at $2,575; available in SLC 43): AMG body styling, gloss black exterior accents, 18-inch AMG multispoke wheels with black accents, chrome-dipped diamond-block grille, and galvanized shift paddles
  • AMG Night package (prices start at $400; available in SLC 43): jet-black exterior accents
  • Magic Sky Control (prices start at $2,500; available in SLC 43): makes the panoramic sunroof shaded or clear
Mercedes-Benz SLC Performance Packages:
  • AMG Handling package (prices start at $3,700; available in SLC): AMG ride control sport suspension, AMG limited-slip differential, an AMG Nappa flat-bottom performance steering wheel, red brake calipers, dashtop analog clock, and an additional engine water cooler
SLC Gas Mileage: Better Than Most

The SLC 300 gets an EPA-rated 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway. The SLC 43 is rated at 20/29 mpg city/highway. These estimates are good for the luxury sports car class.

SLC Ride and Handling: Sufficiently Sporty

The Mercedes-Benz SLC is at its best on a long winding stretch of road. It feels reasonably agile and stable around turns. The steering is quick and well-weighted, and the suspension shrugs off bumps and dips in the road. The AMG SLC 43 has stiffer springs, so it tends to shimmy more over rough pavement. Still, its ride quality remains livable for day-to-day driving.

While the SLC is certainly sporty, it doesn’t provide the razor-sharp handling that many of its class rivals offer, such as the Porsche Boxster and Jaguar F-Type convertibles.

How Fast Is the Mercedes-Benz SLC?

According to Mercedes, the base SLC 300 can go from zero to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds, while the SLC 43 has a zero-to-60 time of 4.6 seconds. Both trims have a top speed of 155 mph when equipped with the Final Edition package.

Does the Mercedes-Benz SLC Have All-Wheel Drive?

The SLC only comes with rear-wheel drive. If you're looking for a luxury sports car with all-wheel drive, take a look at the Porsche 911 and Audi R8.

Read more about performance »

SLC Reliability

Is the Mercedes-Benz SLC Reliable?

The 2020 SLC has a slightly 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

Neither the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration nor the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has crash tested the 2020 SLC.

SLC Safety Features

The 2020 SLC comes standard with a rearview camera, driver drowsiness monitoring, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, and automatic emergency braking. Available features include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, automatic high-beam headlights, and parallel park assist.

Read more about safety »

SLC Dimensions and Weight

The Mercedes-Benz SLC is 13.6 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,384 to 3,527 pounds, depending on configuration.

Where Is the 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC Built?

Mercedes-Benz builds the 2020 SLC in Germany.

When Did the Mercedes-Benz SLC First Come Out?

The Mercedes-Benz SLC, formally known as the SLK, debuted in 1996 as a power-retractable hardtop convertible. In 2000, this Mercedes got a facelift with updated exterior and interior styling. For its second generation, from 2004 to 2011, the SLK AMG was introduced with a V8 engine. The current generation began with the 2012 model year, and the SLK was renamed the SLC for 2017. 2020 is the final model year for the SLC. To commemorate this, Mercedes introduced a Final Edition package.

Which Mercedes-Benz SLC Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Mercedes SLC convertible has two trim levels: SLC 300 and AMG SLC 43. The base model SLC 300 has enough power and amenities to suit most tastes. If you want higher performance, seek out the AMG SLC 43 and its brawnier V6 engine.

Mercedes-Benz SLC 300

The entry-level SLC 300 roadster has an MSRP of $49,950. It’s outfitted with a 241-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-wheel drive. It also comes standard with a power-retractable hardtop, synthetic leather upholstery, a 7-inch infotainment screen, Bluetooth, two USB ports, HD Radio, eight speakers, and keyless entry. Standard safety features include a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, driver drowsiness monitoring, forward collision warning with brake assist, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

A number of options are available. These include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, a navigation system, satellite radio, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, dual-zone automatic climate control, neck-level heating vents (Airscarf), genuine leather upholstery, and heated seats. Available safety features include adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, parallel park assist, automatic high-beam headlights, an adaptive suspension, and 18-inch wheels.

A Final Edition package is available, and it's exclusive to the 2020 model year. It includes sportier AMG bumpers and side skirts, lightweight AMG wheels, and two-tone genuine leather upholstery.

Mercedes-AMG SLC 43

The performance-oriented SLC 43 roadster starts at $64,650. It gains a 385-horsepower twin-turbo V6 engine, a stiffer sport-tuned suspension, larger brakes, 18-inch wheels, heated leather seats, dual-zone climate control, Airscarf, a 10-speaker Harman Kardon stereo, and automatic high-beam headlights. Available features include a limited slip differential, AMG sport seats, and an AMG steering wheel. Most options carry over from the SLC 300.

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 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC offers a taste of luxury sports car ownership at a price that isn’t out of this world. It has potent engines, is fun to drive, and looks great from the outside. It’s also fuel-efficient for the class, and it’s available with lots of safety features. However, the SLC feels cramped and outdated compared to its rivals. Consider other options first.

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

  • "When many people think of luxury roadsters, they imagine carefree evenings spent zipping down the coast in a sexy sports car with the wind in their hair. With its classically handsome exterior, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz SLC-class certainly looks glamorous enough to fulfill this mission. It also delivers quite nicely when it comes to driving dynamics, providing handling that can help make your travels more pleasant and entertaining. Mercedes has equipped this small convertible with an up-to-date selection of driver-assistance features, so there's ample technology on board to alert you to possible mishaps. This car's main shortcoming is its somewhat cramped cabin. Still, there's plenty to love with this deluxe roadster…" -- Car and Driver
  • "… 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 … 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 (2019)
  • "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) 
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