Above the Mediterranean coastline, our Mercedes AMG SLC 43 nimbly navigates the treacherous roads and switchbacks that zigzag up these Alp foothills. One slip and we tumble into jagged rocks below. But the SLC 43 shows no fear.
It makes sense that Mercedes-Benz would deliver us here to the Côte d’Azur to test-drive its smallest roadster: The axle-breaking corners of southern France are tailor-made for the SLC.
But this is no ordinary Mercedes. For 2017, the convertible has been freshly rebranded with several distinct changes. The biggest: The car swapped its trademark V8 power plant for a more measured twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. Some might consider the tweak a betrayal, but V6’s 362-horsepower packs enough punch to soothe the naysayers.
And for the first time in the 20 years of the car’s existence, the compact roadster features adaptive dampers. Offering Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus ride-control settings, the SLC 43 will always succumb to your moods—smooth cruising down Cannes’ famed La Croisette, alert when slicing curves.
Credit Mercedes’ speed-obsessed lunatics for designing this ideal ride. When the car warms up, a glorious exhaust note rips from the tailpipes. After a quick flick of the paddleshifters, the SLC drops a gear on the 9G-Tronic automatic and its 18-inch wheels propel the two-seater into a hairpin turn up the craggy hills.
With a 0-60 sprint in just 4.6 seconds and a top speed of 155 mph, the SLC keeps pace with the Jaguar F-Types and Audi TTS’s of the world. It’s the ideal ride for those who live for their daily dose of adrenaline—and might want to catch a nice Saint-Tropez tan in the process.