Twenty-three years ago I was in Wales pitting the then new Porsche Boxster, and the equally new Mercedes-Benz SLK, against each other in an Autocar magazine road test.
The Porsche won. As it subsequently always did in shoot-outs against the SLK.
The Boxster was a proper sports car against Merc’s ‘man about town’ offering.
That didn’t stop the compact Merc roadster from selling in the tens of thousands – including three of them to my wife.
She wasn’t overly bothered by the SLK’s lack of sportiness compared with the Boxster. She loved her cars for their magical folding hard top roof, their compact dimensions, and because they were so practical to live with.
Sadly, the bright yellow Merc we have outside is the last of the line. The SLC (Mercedes changed its name from SLK to SLC in 2016) is going out of production and I doubt we’ll see a replacement.
Fittingly, our test car is called the Final Edition.
The colour is significant, too, as it’s the same yellow the SLK was launched in, and the same as that car I tested in Wales in 1997. My wife has already shed a tear looking at it.
Mercedes-Benz hasn’t said how many Final Editions it has available, but it’s not a limited edition so presumably there will be enough to go around.
Our test car is an SLC 300 but the Final Edition is also available as an SLC 200 or more excitingly, as a Mercedes-AMG SLC 43.
The first two are powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 184bhp in the SLC 200 and 245bhp in our test car. The SLC 43 has a 3.0-litre V6 with 390bhp.
Money? The SLK/SLC has always been keenly priced and our test car at £46,161 is not unreasonable.
That’s a cash price – leasing deals for the SLC have often proved amazing value: under £300 per month in some years. Deals that Porsche couldn’t get near with its Boxster.
So this is a nostalgic road test, saying goodbye to an old friend.
I never did change my verdict on the original SLK and have always preferred the Boxster. But that was without handing over real money.
We owned two 200s and a 300 but all my attempts to talk Mrs G into a AMG SLK 55 failed despite her agreeing the 5.4-litre V8 engine sounded fantastic. It was cost and fuel consumption that sadly put her off.
Mercedes calls this yellow Sun Yellow and it works well with the gloss black mirror caps and door handles standard on the Final Edition.
Also standard in the Final Hurrah (which is what I’d have named it) is black and silver pearl leather and light carbon grain aluminium trim.
The folding hard top roof, which on all of our cars never leaked a drop, can now be activated at speeds of up to 25mph.
Handy at traffic lights when you’ve made an ill-judged roof decision.
Knowing the SLC was for the chop, Mercedes hasn’t thrown all its latest technology at the car. So it still has the fantastically usable and non-distracting early Command system featuring a proper rotary dial.
So much safer and easier to use than the touchpads used in almost all current Mercs.
How fortunate to have a roadster delivered on a sunny September week. The SLC 300 provides the perfect balance of power and economy.
The four-cylinder engine doesn’t sound as good as the V6 in the SLC 43, let alone the old V8, but it’s a far cry from the coarse sounding motor in the first entry-level SLKs (the car didn’t get a V6 engine until 2000).
Mercedes-Benz will have killed the SLC because demand for cars like these has dropped. BMW has only built a new generation of its Z4 roadster as it’s a joint project with Toyota.
Mercedes has no similar deal, so the SLC must go.
There is at least one black armband being worn in this household.
Mercedes-Benz SLC 300 Final Edition
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, 245bhp
Fuel consumption: 37.2-35.3mpg
Porsche 718 Boxster
Great to drive but spoilt by its four-cylinder engine.
Jaguar F-Type P300
At this price you get the four-cylinder version. A nice car but overpriced.
BMW Z4 M40i
The logical choice when there’s no SLC to buy. Great engine and handling.