This twin-turbo V6-powered Mercedes SLC might be great in some ways and frustrating in others since it will divide your head and your heart on a daily basis. The SLC is a halfway house. It’s not an all-new product; sharing its chassis, electronics and interior with the old SLK. This Mercedes-AMG version sits squarely in its own middle ground, too, between the common-or-garden SLCs and the traditional gap at the top of the range for a V8. At the moment we don’t know whether Mercedes will decide to make what would be an SLC 55, though, so for now the 43 is the hottest property you can buy in small AMG drop-tops.
The SLK was never the sweetest-handling of roadsters so we were managing our expectations anyway, but living with this car for a week threw up an animal of two very different halves. One side gives you big fun and the other all too much frustration. Here’s our run-down of life with the SLC 43. The one thing you always want in an expensive soft-top is an engine that means business, and the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 delivers in spades. Floor the throttle at low revs and there’s useful pull if you’re forcing the 9-speed automatic to stay in gear with the M for Manual button, but let it kick down in auto and you’re clobbered with a 384lb ft hammer blow of forward motion backed by an ear-splitting trumpet blare at the top end. In Sport+ mode there’s plenty of pop-bang action on the overrun, too. It sounds even better from outside the car than from the driver’s seat.
You run out of revs before the engine sounds like it’s going to, so it’s too east to whack the soft rev-limiter, but at least it treats you like an adult and won’t automatically up-shift in manual mode. Shifts feel a little artificially blunt at full chat, but the gearbox is a decent companion overall. The first four gears are quite short, the fifth marks a transition and the top four are clearly long, for better fuel economy. Motorway cruising at 70mph brings up just over 1,500rpm in ninth.