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2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.1

The 2019 Mercedes-Benz SLC has well-rounded performance, but it’s less athletic than nearly all of its rivals. It has a good amount of engine power and a smooth ride, but some noticeable turbo lag detracts from the Benz’s performance. Fuel economy is great for the class.

  • "The SLC 43 (and the SLC 300) encourages spirited driving, and it's suitably quick. However, it isn't as engaging or as thrilling as an Audi TT, BMW Z4, Jaguar F-Type or Porsche Boxster. Some of these alternatives may be slower, but the sensation of speed and confidence is in their favor." -- Edmunds
  • "In truth, though, the SLK55 wasn't all that great; it was nose-heavy, thirsty, and not particularly nimble. The SLC43 suffers none of those shortcomings. Sure, its V-6's horsepower is lower, but its 384 lb-ft peak torque is just 14 lb-ft shy of the 5.5-liter's. Even better, it's all on tap from 2000 rpm." -- Car and Driver (2017)
  • "Granted, the SLC is not a pure sports car in the mold of a Porsche Boxster, or even a BMW Z4, but it's more luxurious than either of those, and more comfortable." -- Kelley Blue Book (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The Mercedes-Benz SLC 300 comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The SLC 300 gets an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, which is excellent for the class.

The Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 has a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine that puts out 385 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. With this model, expect 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway.

Both engines have good power, giving the SLC quick acceleration from a stop. However, each engine exhibits slight turbo lag. A nine-speed automatic transmission is standard, and AMG models have a nine-speed automatic. Both transmissions deliver timely and precise shifts.

  • "With 385 hp, the AMG SLC has plenty of power but not so much that it makes it tricky to drive. There's a brief hesitation after pressing the pedal, but overall the engine is responsive. … The gear changes are smooth and quick in everyday driving. The auto engine stop-start system causes shudders in the cabin and is a little slow to react. It occasionally turns off the engine just before you come to a full stop, resulting in an inelegant lurch." -- Edmunds
  • "Naturally, the superior thrust from this engine is also a welcome sensation." -- Autotrader (2018)
  • "Not surprisingly, the 2.0-liter turbo four's robust output … made the rural sweepers north of Nice, France, particularly entertaining, although turbo lag became noticeable on Nice's congested streets. … The nine-speed automatic's snappy downshifts under braking made us smile every time." -- Car and Driver (2017)

Handling and Braking

The rear-wheel-drive Mercedes SLC has composed handling around turns, with quick and accurate steering. The AMG SLC's ride is a bit stiff, but it’s still comfortable.

  • "At parking lot speeds, the steering effort is a bit too heavy and doesn't return to center on its own (an old Mercedes trait). Once up to speed, it feels direct and precise, and it provides a useful amount of feedback." -- Edmunds
  • "The SLC is far more engaging than the typical, comfort-oriented Mercedes model. Deft suspension tuning and accurate steering make the roadster a willing partner in crime for backroad blitzes, though it is equally happy playing the role of grand tourer for long-distance highway trips." -- Left Lane News (2018)
  • "At speed, the SLC could almost pass for an SL, it's so stable and composed. … Unlike its big brother, though, the SLC also feels at home on twisty roads, attacking corners with enthusiasm." -- Autotrader (2018)
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