We all know that the current E89 BMW Z4 is getting a bit old. Actually, if it were a person, it’d be put in an nursing home and would be having its peas and carrots turned into mush and fed to it by a caretaker. It’s damn old. Especially in a world occupied by the new, and most excellent, Porsche Boxster and brand-new Audi TT. The Z4 seems downright ancient by comparison. But there’s another German roadster that’s getting into its twilight years as well — the Mercedes-Benz SLK Class.
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The folks in Stuttgart were aware of this and, along with every other model recently, decided to give it a bit of a sprucing up. For 2016, the SLK Class will receive many updates, mainly its name. Starting next year, Mercedes’ smallest roadster will be called the SLC Class, to put it in line with the C Class and GLC Class. Meaning the lower class, in Mercedes-Benz speak.
However, it won’t just be a name change. The SLC will also bring with it some new design features as well as new powertrains. The grille and headlights have been updated to more suit the rest of the Three-Pointed lineup. The Diamond grille of other Benz products is here, the taillights have been updated and the exhaust tips match those of the new C Class. So it’s been freshened up a bit. The interior has been updated as well and looks very nice.
But the big news is in the engine and transmission department. All of its engines, except for the top-spec AMG model, are four-cylinders with turbochargers. There will be a 1.6 liter and two 2.0 liter engines, in the SLC180, SLC200 and SLC300, respectively. The SLC180 will develop 154 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, the SLC200 will make 181 hp and 221 lb-ft while the bigger SLC300 will have 242 hp and 273 lb-ft. Top spec Mercedes-AMG SLC43 will have a twin-turbocharged 3.0 liter V6, replacing the old 5.5 liter twin-turbo V8, that will develop 362 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. All SLC Classes will only be available with Mercedes’ new ZF-sourced nine-speed automatic.
By comparison, the BMW Z4 is offered with BMW’s 2.0 liter 240 hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a 3.0 liter 300 hp inline-six engine or a 335 hp version of the 3.0 liter engine in the Z4 sDrive35is.
The BMW Z4 is still a handsome looking car, one with classic sports car looks, but it is getting old looking and behind the times a bit. When standing alone, the Z4 looks fine, in fact it actually looks quite good. But compare it to its rivals and it just looks dated now. BMW is working on a successor, with or without the help of Toyota, and it can’t come soon enough.