Mercedes Benz upgrades SLK to C-Class

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The new Mercedes Benz SLC will replace the SLK for the 2017 model year

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When Mercedes Benz introduced the SLK in 1996, it met with positive reaction and went on to sell over 670,000 units. Twenty years is a long time to go between major updates in any business, but the wait appears to be worth it given all of the changes to the German company's signature roadster that will now be called the SLC.

What immediately stands out is the significant number of options within options available in the five separate models of the SLC – the entry-level SLC 180, the SLC 200, the SLC 250 d, the SLC 300 and the top-of-the-line AMG SLC 43. This is evident in everything from the engine to the transmission to the lighting system. It's almost too much and might make the average buyer's head spin, but Mercedes Benz is clearly not appealing to that person.

All but the AMG version come with a 4-cylinder in-line engine with the racer model equipped with a V-6. Engine size varies with the 180 at 1,595 cc (115 kW/156 hp), the 250 d at 2,143cc (150kW/204 hp) and the SLC 43 at 2,996 cc (270 kW/367 hp). Both the 200 and 300 have the same sized engine at 1,991 cc, but the 200 is rated at 135 kW/184 hp and the 300 at 180 kW/245 hp. Torque numbers range from 250 Nm (184 ft lbs) to 520 Nm (384 ft lbs) depending on the model.

Both the 180 and 200 are fitted with a 6-speed manual transmission, but the 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission that comes standard in the other models is available as an option.

Key to the idea of options is what Mercedes is referring to as Dynamic Select, which gives the driver multiple choices that affect engine, transmission, steering and suspension. The five modes – Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Eco and Individual will be easy to select using the Dynamic Select button in the upper control panel on the dashboard console. The AMG version comes with its own exhaust system that adjusts its sound based on which of the above modes you've chosen.

There's an optional Dynamic Handling package that lowers the chassis by 10 mm and includes an adaptive damping system, direct steering and ESP Dynamic Cornering Assist. When paired with Dynamic Select, this package automatically varies the damping force to each wheel depending on driving conditions.

Another new feature for the whole SLC line is Active Brake Assist, known in other Mercedes Benz models as Collision Prevention Assist Plus. Basically, if you don't brake fast enough to avoid a collision, the car will do it for you. Couple this with Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keeping Assist, and the chances of getting in a wreck are greatly reduced.

There are also a plethora of options that improve overall lighting and detection. This includes an LED lighting system that adapts your headlights to all types of lighting conditions, Adaptive High Beam Assist Plus that allows you to keep your high beams on while adjusting them for varied traffic conditions, and Traffic Sign Assist that reads and recognizes various traffic signs, like speed limits and no entry, to keep you from making a wrong move.

Taking the SLC from coupe to convertible happens at the push of a button and can be done while driving at speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph). With the panoramic vario-roof top down, more optional features are available. This includes heated seats and neck level heating for both the driver and passenger. With the roof up, the glass can be lightened or darkened at the touch of a button, providing either a panoramic sky view or shade from the sun.

The infotainment system is prominently featured in the center of the dash and consists of a high resolution, color media display that lets you control navigation, phone, audio, video and Internet access.

Outside, Mercedes Benz engineers created a redesigned front section with a steeply raked diamond radiator grille, a front bumper with air intakes, and the LED daytime running lamps integrated into the headlamp units. The overall look is more muscular and aggressive than the SLKs, which the new SLC will replace in March 2016.

Pricing for the five SLC models has yet to be announced, but Mercedes Benz will start taking orders in January 2016. The listed price of the SLK 300 for 2016 starts at almost US$48,000, so given the significant upgrades the new SLC may start slightly higher.

Mercedes introduces the new SLC in the video below.


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