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ONE of the things you may or may not notice about the Mercedes-Benz SLC is that it has no "class". Not that the smallest convertible from the brand with the three-pointed star lacks stylishness or refinement, but rather, it does not have the usual suffix found on other models such as the S-Class, E-Class or C-Class.
With respect to the last model range mentioned, the SLC roadster is actually the SLK renamed to correspond with that segment, just as GLC is the crossover which also belongs to this particular compact class.
That said, the SLC is a refreshed version of the third-generation two-seater. The exterior of this nifty open-top model has been given a facelift with new LED head and tail lamps, making it more streamlined and less truncated.
It is a fairly good job, given that the Mercedes-Benz SLC's proportions can't help but want to make it look stubby. It is only 4,133 mm long with a 2,430 mm wheelbase and 1.3 metres in height.
But while the SLC is diminutive, its cabin is surprisingly spacious with good head and elbow room. The interior has the contemporary Mercedes-Benz cues with its distinctive circular airvents and logical centre console. What stands out, however, are the new instrument cluster with multi-function colour display and stylishly dinky gear lever with the letters "SLC'' neatly embossed.
Despite its compact proportions, it is no lightweight at 1,480 kg. So, it is commendable that the SLC 200's latest powertrain of a two-litre turbocharged engine and nine-speed automatic transmission literally makes light work of it.
The four-cylinder petrol unit emits a low engine-growl that can only be described as "deliciously creamy". Matched with the new and silky 9G-Tronic auto gearbox, it is the epitome of smooth power.
The SLC 200 is very responsive and because of its size, especially nimble. The Dynamic Select feature with its various driving modes can make the SLC more or less sporty and they include variable damping.
New to the SLC are Apple CarPlay and ambient lighting that peeks softly from under the door armrests and along the lower centre console. There is also a semi-automatic boot separator, where the protective cover in the trunk does not have to be manually pulled down before the vario-roof can be electrically stowed.
The roof now opens or closes while the car is moving at up to 40 kmh. Previously, it had to be stationary.
With the roof down, there is the expected buffeting but the subtly improved design of the "air guides" behind the head restraints helps with the draught.
The most impressive aspect of this roadster, however, is its build quality. With the rigid retractable roof up, it is impossible to detect body flex or scuttle shake on Singapore roads. The coupe-like SLC has a wonderfully reassuring sense of solidness and refinement.
So, as far as the Mercedes-Benz SLC 200 is concerned, it doesn't matter if its name includes the word "class" or not.
Mercedes-Benz SLC 200
Engine: 1,991cc inline-4 turbocharged
Gearbox: 9-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission
Max power: 184 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Max torque: 300 Nm @ 1,200-4,000 rpm
0-100 kmh: 6.9 secs
Top speed: 237 kmh
CO2 emissions: 143 g/km
Average OMV: S$58,000
Price: S$283,888 (with COE)
Distributor: Cycle & Carriage