LETíS ADDRESS the small, mid-engined elephant in the room. When it comes to two-seat roadsters under $200K, Porscheís Boxster is the benchmark. Mercedes-Benzís SLK55 AMG put up a good defence, relying on brutish charm to stand out on its own. But now that Mercedes has flicked the SLK55 and its atmo 5.5-litre V8 for a flagship with a new name, drivetrain, and body, can it keep a foothold in the segment? Not on dynamic merit alone. While the SLC is a significant update of the SLK, itís more evolutionary than the name change suggests. The front-endís been stiffened and the suspensionís been overhauled, but it hasnít banished its aggressive ride and doesnít sparkle with fine balance or bite.
Instead, in true AMG tradition, the SLC43ís main event is its driveline.
The new nine-speed auto is always in the right gear. Engage Sport Plus mode and itíll also deliver fantastic downshifts under braking. Youíll find the same 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 in C43 and E43 variants, but it sounds best here, unfiltered by sound deadening and tickling your ears with its raucous wail. It pulls hard from 3000rpm all the way until its redline, and would walk past a Boxster on the run (it should, at 50kW and 100Nm healthier). However, this stonk can prove too much for the rear axle Ė itíll tramp during hard launches. The ESP systemís been tuned with this in mind, as it constantly cuts traction to help the LSD-equipped rear end cope with the power. Which says a lot about the car. The SLC43 is enjoyable on the right road and day. But to match a long-time benchmark, that might not be often enough. Ė LC SPECS 3.0L V6 TWIN-TURBO, 270KW/520NM, 1520KG, 0-100KM/H 4.7SEC PRICE $134,615