Mercedes-Benz SLK Becomes SLC, Gets 3.0L Biturbo AMG Version

Mercedes-Benz continues the revamp of its model nomenclature with the SLK-replacing SLC roadster

With the new name, the automaker wants to underline the model's close relationship with the C-Class, from which it borrows much of its technology.

From a styling point of view, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC gains a new front end highlighted by a standard diamond radiator grille, refreshed bumper, arrow-shaped bonnet and refreshed headlights optionally available with the LED Intelligent Light System. The rear end gets a new bumper with integrated tailpipes and new graphics for the narrower LED taillights.

The cabin also sees some upgrades, including new light or dark aluminum trim parts with a carbon fiber finish, as well as a new design for the instrument cluster with an integrated 4.5-inch TFT display. Furthermore, the display between the two air vents in the center console has grown from 5.8 inches to 7 inches (in combination with the Audio 20 infotainment system).

Mercedes-Benz has also updated the SLC's electrohydraulic roof that can now be opened or closed at speeds up to 40 km/h and gains an automatic boot separator in combination with the optional extra vario-roof or Keyless-Go.

The big news is the introduction of a new engine for the SLC 43 performance model, a 3.0-liter V6 biturbo that replaces the 5.5-liter V8 found in the previous SLK 55 AMG. Mated to the new 9G-Tronic sports transmission the new engine delivers 367 PS at 5,500-6,000 rpm and 520 Nm of torque at 2,000-4,200 rpm. It's 54 PS less powerful than its predecessor, but peak torque is now higher by 19 Nm.

Surprisingly, the drop in performance is virtually unnoticeable, as the SLC 43 needs 4.7 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h, which means it's just 0.1 seconds slower than the SLK 55 AMG. Top speed remains electronically limited to 250 km/h. Predictably, the new engine is more fuel-efficient than its predecessor, averaging 7.8 l/100 km – that's 0.6 l/100 km less, to be exact.

The Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 is available with either the standard sports suspension or the optional AMG Ride Control suspension with adaptive damping and the Handling package with a mechanical limited-slip differential on the rear axle.

Besides the SLC 43, the U.S. market will only get the SLC 300, powered by a 241 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged gasoline engine. In Europe, the SLC will also get the 2.0-liter unit in a lower state of tune (184 PS in the SLC 200), as well as a 156 PS 1.6-liter four-cylinder in the SLC 180.

Mercedes-Benz will also offer the 204 PS 2.1-liter diesel engine in the SLC 250d, which will be the most fuel-efficient model of the lineup, with a combined fuel consumption of 4.4 l/100 km and 114 g/km of CO2. The SLC 250d, SLC 300 and SLC 43 will be equipped with the 9G-Tronic automatic transmission as standard while the SL 180 and SL 200 will get a six-speed manual gearbox.

The Mercedes-Benz SLC will debut at the 2016 Detroit Auto Show and will be available to order in mid-January 2016 in Europe and spring 2016 in the United States.