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Goodbye, SLK 55 AMG. Hello, 362bhp Merc-AMG SLC 43

Merc’s small two-seater gets a new name, and new six-cylinder power

This is the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43, further evidence of Stuttgart’s passionate embracing of the downsizing trend.

For starters, it’s got a new, more efficient badge. SLC is Merc’s new name for the SLK - this is a facelift and rebrand rather than all-new car - ditching that lumpy, over-complicated ‘K’ in favour of a simpler, lighter ‘C’ to reflect the firm’s new streamlined naming policy.

But it’s gone smaller in the engine department too. The old SLK 55, of course, employed a naturally aspirated 5.5-litre V8, but AMG is now a dedicated follower of turbocharging.

Thus, the new SLC 43 employs a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 (not, as the name might suggest, a 4.3-litre) making 362bhp at 5500rpm, and a hefty 384lb ft of torque from just 2000rpm. It’s all sent to the rear wheels through Merc’s nine-speed auto ‘box.

Making less power than the old SLK 55, the SLC 43 is just a fraction slower from 0-62mph, clocking the sprint in 4.7 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155mph.

A six-cylinder AMG is big news. It’s not the first – the C32 of 2002 employed a supercharged 3.2-litre V6 – but it’s quite the departure from a firm traditionally wedded to V8s (four-cylinder A45 and relatives honorably excepted).

Merc boasts the SLC 43 will be ‘the most efficient six-cylinder performance roadster on the market’, highlighting official stats of 178g/km of CO2 and 36.2mpg.

Embracing six-cylinder power throws the SLC into direct competition with Jaguar’s F-Type and the (admittedly mid-engined) Porsche Boxster. It shouldn’t be overwhelmed: the SLC 43 makes more power than the base F-Type and even the Boxster GTS, and just a little less than the Boxster Spyder.

Whether it’ll be as sweet to drive as its foes is another matter: the SLK was never the finest-handling of roadsters, but Merc reckons the SLC will be better. It gets redeveloped front and rear axles, stiffer mountings and sharper steering: opt for the ‘Handling’ package and you’ll get a proper limited-slip diff, too.

Of course, you can have your SLC with a more sedate engine. It’ll launch with the choice of three four-cylinder petrol engines, ranging in output from 154 to 241bhp, and the SLC 250d, which sees Merc’s venerable 2.1-litre turbodiesel churning out 201bhp.

All SLCs get that new sleeker face, more safety and infotainment kit than the old SLK could ever muster, and the option of snazzy new LED lights.

It employs the same ‘vario-roof’ folding hard-top as its predecessor, which can be raised or closed at speeds up to 25mph. Merc is keen to highlight the SLC’s 335 litres of bootspace, apparently the biggest in the segment. Plenty of room for golf clubs.

Prices will be announced in mid-January, when the SLC order books open. Expect a modest rise on the outgoing SLK. Could this finally be the Merc roadster to get stuck into the best Porsche has to offer? It’ll have to be a quantum leap over the old car to get close…

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