Mercedes-Benz SLC, R 172, 2015

You’ve seen the refreshed and renamed Mercedes-Benz SLC, now let’s zoom in on the high-performance flagship variant, the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43.

AMG’s SLC wears a ’43’ badge last seen on the W202, the first C-Class from the 90s. It replaces the SLK 55 AMG in the junior roadster’s line-up. Under the hood is a 3.0 litre V6 biturbo engine with 367 hp and 520 Nm of torque, good for 0 to 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds and an electronically limited 250 km/h top speed. If you want six cylinders in your SLC, this is now the only variant that has it.

For perspective, the old SLK 55 AMG had 54 more horses but 20 Nm less from its unique 421 hp/540 Nm naturally aspirated 5.5 litre V8 engine, back in the day when AMG model numbers still had a relationship with the engine size. The old car is faster to 100 km/h at 4.6 seconds, but only by one tenth.

Downsizing is all about efficiency, and the SLC 43’s NEDC combined fuel consumption of 7.8 litres per 100 km is 0.6 litres better than its brawny predecessor, more than payback for the 0.1s slower sprint time.

The V6 is mated to a 9G-Tronic sports transmission with specifically adapted software for shorter shift times. The ‘box features multiple downshifts and a double-declutching function in Sport and Sport + modes. In the latter, partial ignition interruptions provide even faster shifts.

Merc says that shifts in Manual mode, activated via a separate button next to the gear lever, is twice as fast as in the other modes. Also, the gearbox stays in the selected gear and does not automatically shift up at redline. Steering shift paddles are included, of course.

Moving on to suspension, there are two options – standard sports suspension or the optional AMG Ride Control suspension with adjustable damping. Common to both are the specially developed front and rear axles, which “guarantee” precise wheel location and high camber stability on compression and rebound.

The three-link front axle has been provided with stiffer steering knuckles, improved elastokinematics and increased negative camber. In combination with the also new wishbone guide bearings, this design results in significantly more agile cornering, more precise and direct suspension feedback from the road and fast cornering speeds, Merc claims.

Mercedes-Benz SLC, R 172, 2015

The four-link rear axle with optimised elastokinematics, increased negative camber and special forged-aluminium track rods not only improves the driving dynamics, but also makes the SLC 43 more controllable at the limit.

In addition, AMG mountings for the engine and rear-axle gear unit offer an ideal compromise between handling and comfort, plus contribute to the “snappy and highly stable driving impression,” according to its maker. There’s also an optional mechanical limited-slip differential on the rear axle.

The AMG Ride Control suspension provides three settings – Comfort, Sport and Sport + – that can be selected by the driver via the transmission modes using the Dynamic Select button. The button provides two other modes, Eco and Individual. There are two steering power assistance modes – Comfort and Sport – depending on Dynamic Select position.

An AMG car has to have appealing sound, and while the SLC 43 won’t have that “typical exhaust growl which only a large-displacement eight-cylinder engine can produce,” its exhaust system comes with two automatically map-controlled flaps. In the Eco and Comfort transmission modes, the flaps remain closed most of the time. In Sport and Sport +, the flaps open earlier and more spontaneously. The effect is “the typical, emotively appealing AMG engine sound.”

Mercedes-Benz SLC, R 172, 2015

There are changes to the exterior to mark the SLC 43 out as the AMG flagship. In addition to the standard SLC updates, the 43 gets large air intakes with silver chrome fins, edged by black flics. Down below, the silver chrome front splitter ensures optimal airflow to the cooling modules and gives a ground-hugging look. The diamond grille features chrome-plated pins and a louvre in gloss black.

On the sides, the 18-inch AMG multi-spoke black alloys are the highlight, but there are also black mirror caps plus a silver chrome fin and ‘biturbo’ lettering on the front wings. At the back, the 43 gets an AMG spoiler lip, quad pipes and the diffuser-look rear apron trim in silver chrome.

Inside, the SLC 43 receives a sports steering wheel in black nappa leather with a flattened bottom section and red contrasting stitch. The sports seats are in sun-reflecting nappa leather/Dinamica microfibre with model-specific seat layout and red piping. The AMG instrument cluster boasts a 4.5-inch colour display, Racetimer and 280 km/h scale with a chequered flag design.

An optional Handling package adds on the mechanical LSD, an additional engine radiator, red-painted brake calipers, a Performance steering wheel with Dinamica microfibre in the grip area and an analogue clock in IWC design. Other options include Merc’s LED Intelligent Light System, the AMG Night package and a Harman Kardon Logic 7 Surround Sound system, among other things.