QUICK DRIVE: Mercedes-Benz SLC 300

Car: Mercedes-Benz SLC 300

Engine: 180kW/370Nm 2.0-litre inline four-cylinder petrol turbo

Transmission: Nine-speed automatic

Price: $111,500 ($120,990 as tested)

We like:

180kW in a small car! Engine is a strong and torquey unit that loves a good rev. Nine-speed auto is spectacularly good. Superb handling shows that some things don’t age. Responsive and nicely grippy. Rear can be nicely playful if you want it to be. Superbly comfortable and supportive seats. Extremely high quality materials and excellent finish.

We don’t like:

It does look rather dated, inside and out. The exhaust note in Sport Plus is quite loud and rather silly. Awful Apple CarPlay integration. What’s the deal with pulling the lever up to put the roof down and down to put the roof up?

The SLC is a somewhat strange experience. On one hand it feels and certainly looks like quite an old car (which it very much is, given that it is a renamed version of the R172 SLK that first appeared in 2011) and on the other hand Mercedes has tried its best to obscure this fact by offering quite a bit of modern tech like its latest Drive Pilot radar cruise control and Apple CarPlay phone mirroring.

Then it promptly betrays its age again by not having a touchscreen, making the phone mirroring difficult and unintuitive to use…

While Mercedes may offer all the modern tech, most of it is optional, meaning that the basic SLC 300 will feel even older than the specced-up we drive here.

Still, small niggles like this soon pale into insignificance when you point the SLC at a corner however, as the chassis is an eager and responsive delight, while the hydraulically assisted power steering is simply a wonderful reminder of how much we lost with the transition to electrically-assist steering…

The SLC may be old, but it is still a wonderfully capable car that can be immense fun on a winding road.

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