Pretoria - Vehicle launches will usually see you getting a chance to sample a new model and at most, a few of its derivatives, be it engine, drivetrain or trim level. Seldom will you ricochet between some vastly different models, each with their very own unique character and market segment.
The recent collective launch of several Mercedes-Benz and Mercedes-AMG models, dubbed Dream Cars, saw us doing just that. While the launch was to include the much anticipated S-Class Convertible, this model got tied up in Homologation and was unable to make it out in time – you've just got to love red tape.
This meant that three key models would be on offer starting, from a price perspective, with the updated Mercedes-Benz SLC Roadster (R172), followed by the Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupe and finally the Mercedes-Benz SL Roadster, including the behemoth V12 Mercedes-AMG SL 65
Lest we bore you with the details, let's run you through what has changed on the SLC and SL-Class offerings and give you some insight into what the C 63 AMG Coupe is all about.
The Mercedes-Benz SLC
With SLC replacing SLK, the SLC is the entry into Mercedes roadster ownership. It is available in three different models now, namely the SLC 200, SLC 300 and the Mercedes-AMG SLC 43. Yes, you've never heard of the SLC 43 before and that's because it's a completely new designation that will be gracing 450 sport models from now on.
Both the 200 and 300 are powered by an inline 4-cylinder 2.0-litre turbocharged motor making 135 and 180kW respectively. Torque readings come in at 300 and 370Nm. Drive is sent to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual transmission on the 200 while the 300 sees fitment of the 9G-TRONIC automatic. The 9G-Tronic fitment allows the 300 to return a claimed combined consumption of 5.8l/100km versus the marginally higher 6.1l/100km of the manual 200.
The Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 is powered by a 3.0-litre, Bi-Turbo V6, producing 270kW and 520Nm torque. Drive is, as expected, sent to the rears through the 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox and rounded off with multi-link sports suspension. With the motor being smaller than the V8 SLK 55 that it replaces, you can be assured that the economy has improved as well. Now returning a claimed 7.8l/100km on the combined cycle, the SLC 43 is said to be the most efficient 6-cylinder performance roadster on the market.
Visually, the SLC range now features an aggressive nose, complete with diamond radiator grille and LED Intelligent Light System. The interior is said to be improved too with aluminium trim parts and carbon-fibre finishes. Unfortunately this was lost somewhere along the line because the interior actually came off feeling a little cheap and rather unpleasant.
My list of complaints extends to the harsh ride, in the non-AMG models, and the particularly difficult-to-listen-to engine note. The performance is there, you just hate hearing it when it happens. Cabin noise added to the displeasure when the Vario-roof was closed and the unforgiving seating position had me dreaming of its bigger brother rather.
Mercedes-Benz SLC 200 manual - R680 600
Mercedes-Benz SLC 200 auto - R699 600
Mercedes-Benz SLC 300 - R753 400
Mercedes-AMG SLC 43 - R988 000
(excluding emissions tax)
The Mercedes-Benz SL
A long-time iconic luxury roadster, the SL is a firm favourite amongst Mercedes-Benz enthusiasts. With a history steeped in performance, the SL makes a statement that is hard to replicate.
The range consists of the Mercedes-AMG SL 400 with a 270kW and 500Nm 3.0-litre V6 (up by 25kW and 20Nm) and the Mercedes-Benz SL 500 powered by a 335kW and 700Nm 4.7-litre V8. Both receive drive through the 9-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearboxes.
The performance end of the spectrum sees the Mercedes-AMG SL 63 and SL 65 - the first with a 5.5-litre Bi-Turbo V8 and the second with a 6-litre Bi-Turbo V12. The power figures here read like a fantasy wishlist. The SL 63 develops 430kW and 900Nm torque while the SL 65 is rated at 463kW and 1000Nm.
The AMG SpeedShift MCT 7-speed is employed in the SL 63 while the SL 65 benefits from the AMG SpeedShift 7G-Tronic. These transmissions help the SL 65 get to 100km/h in 4.0-seconds from a standstill and the SL 63 will do the same sprint in 4.1-seconds. Both will rocket onto a limited top speed of 250km/h with the Driver's Pack opening that up to 300km/h.
All models are fitted with Dynamic Select that allows the driver to switch between Eco, Comfort, Individual, Sport and now Sport+ modes on the fly. The AMG derivatives include a Race option for those with death wishes apparently. 1000Nm remember. Both models are fitted with mechanical limited slip differentials.
The tweaked and improved suspension means that the AMG SL offerings corner and change direction with finesse. A clear difference can be felt when switching between the two models and the 65 certainly does have a heavier nose that seems to make it a little more prone to pushing wider of the corner than its smaller brother. Both models stop brilliantly with ample braking systems ensuring that you can return from the wrong side of the speed limit without drama.
The facelift changes the outward appearance of the SL in a subtle way, with the new diamond grille treatment and AMG styling treatment in the front bumper. The A-wing design creates an impressive stance and helps direct critical airflow in and around the wheel wells and underneath the body. LED ILS headlights are standard fitment and these allow the driver to run at night on high-beam without having to worry about dazzling other drivers and oncoming traffic.
The taillights are broad to emphasise the width and agility of the SL and contour with the crease lines that run down the side of the body from the enlarged side vents. Wheel options have been extended too, with a variety of designs available to the consumer.
The interior is the usual high standard that one would expect from the SL, with copious amounts of leather, aluminium and carbon-fibre being used to create a comfortable, quiet and luxurious cabin. Tech is a strong point of the SL and mimics that of the S-Class quite closely with a myriad of driver assistance systems and connectivity.
Mercedes-Benz SL 400 - R1 435 100
Mercedes-Benz SL 500 - R1 767 900
Mercedes-AMG SL 63 - R2 454 300
Mercedes-AMG SL 65 - R3 119 900
(excluding emissions tax)
The Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupé
Rounding off the Dream Cars experience was the new Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupé. If the others were the starters and mains, desert was a flaming hot chili.
Much has already been written about the C 63 sedan, with its 4.0-litre Bi-Turbo V8 producing 350kW in regular 63 trim and 375kW in 63 S trim. It's no different in the Coupé but with the revision of the front suspension, things step up a level when the straights roads cease.
I personally prefer the look of the Coupé over that of the sedan, and with a chance to sample its prowess back-to-back with the SL-on the track, I can say that the performance is certainly more rewarding as well. The power to weight ratio makes the C 63 more agile and indeed quicker around the track.
The brakes checked the car up well and the lighter weight, combined with a better front / rear balance, makes the turn-in considerably sharper and more controlled than that of its larger brethren. This is further aided by the limited slip differentials that have been fitted to the Mercedes-AMG C 63 and C 63 S. In the C 63 it's a mechanical unit while in the C 63 S it's an electronic system. Either which way, control under braking and acceleration is vastly improved.
The bodywork of the Mercedes-AMG C 63 is considerably different from that of its Mercedes-Benz (non-AMG) counterparts. The aluminium bonnet is 60mm longer and features the two longitudinal power domes, and is flanked by arches that make the C 63 64mm wider at the front. This also allows for the fitment of wider performance tyres. The rear arches have also been blown out, bumping the overall rear width 66mm wider than standard.
The front end features the trademark “arrow” badge and grille treatment while the bumper incorporates the above mentioned AMG A-wing splitter in the lower air dam. At the rear, a small spoiler lip rests atop the boot lid, while down below, venting on either side of the new diffuser exaggerates the new increase in width.
The C 63 will do the 0-100km/h sprint in 4.0-seconds with the S-model doing it in 3.9-seconds. Both will rocket onto a limited top speed of 250km/h with the Driver's Pack opening that up to 290km/h. Both models are offered with the AMG SpeedShift MCT 7-Speed and have Dynamic Select to tailor the throttle response, shifts and driving aids to the situation at hand.
Mercedes-AMG C 63 Coupé - R1 268 700
Mercedes-AMG C 63 S Coupé - R1 382 000