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Detroit LIVE: 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC

by Ronan Glon

Mercedes\' smallest roadster gets a new name, a new look, and a twin-turbocharged range-topping model.

Mercedes-Benz has introduced its 2017 SLC at the Detroit Motor Show. Positioned at the bottom of the company's roadster lineup, the SLC is essentially a SLK that gains a new name, additional tech features, and a new look.

Up front, the SLC -- a name last used on a coupe version of the r107 built from 1971 to 1981 -- gets sleeker-looking headlights, a bigger grille, and a revised lower bumper, while the modifications made to the rear fascia are largely limited to new-look tail lamps. Although not a full-on redesign, the updates bring the small roadster in line with Mercedes' current design language.

Keeping with the times, the SLC is offered with Mercedes' Dynamic Select technology, which lets the driver choose one of five driving modes, automatic braking, a seven-inch display that runs the car maker's COMAND infotainment system, and a rear-view camera. The list of optional features includes parking sensors and Magic Sky Control, which tints the standard panoramic sunroof at the push of a button.

The SLC lineup has been pared down from three to two models. The base SLC300 carries on with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine tuned to deliver 241 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 273 lb-ft. of torque from 1,300 to 4,000 rpm. It's capable of reaching 60 mph from a stop in 5.7 seconds, and it tops out at 130 mph. A nine-speed automatic transmission sends power to the rear wheels.

The mid-level SLK350 has been axed, so buyers who want more grunt need to step up to the Mercedes-AMG SLC43, which trades the outgoing SLK55's naturally-aspirated 5.5-liter V8 engine for a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that generates 341 horsepower from 5,500 to 6,000 rpm and 384 lb-ft. of torque from 2,000 to 4,200 rpm. Phasing out the SLK55 is a monumentally important decision for Mercedes-AMG because the eight-cylinder is the last naturally-aspirated engine it builds.

Fitted with the downsized mill, the SLC43 takes 4.6 seconds to sprint from zero to 60 mph -- just 0.1 slower than the SLK55 -- and it goes on to a top speed of 155 mph. Like the 300, it's equipped with a nine-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive.

Pricing information for the 2017 Mercedes-Benz SLC won't be published until closer to the roadster's spring 2016 launch date.

Live images by Brian Williams.