2020 Mercedes SLC vs. 2020 Mazda MX-5 Miata

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

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The SLC’s optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

The SLC has standard NECK-PRO Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the NECK-PRO Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

The SLC’s driver alert monitor detects an inattentive driver then sounds a warning and suggests a break. According to the NHTSA, drivers who fall asleep cause about 100,000 crashes and 1500 deaths a year. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a driver alert monitor.

Both the SLC and the MX-5 Miata have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems and rear parking sensors.

The Mercedes SLC weighs 888 to 1043 pounds more than the Mazda MX-5 Miata. The NHTSA advises that heavier cars are much safer in collisions than their significantly lighter counterparts. Crosswinds also affect lighter cars more.

Warranty

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The SLC comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The MX-5 Miata’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Reliability

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The MX-5 Miata’s redline is at 7500 RPM, which causes more engine wear, and a greater chance of a catastrophic engine failure. The SLC has a 6300 RPM redline.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Mazda vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 13th in reliability, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Mazda is ranked 21st.

Engine

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The SLC’s 2.0 turbo 4-cylinder produces 60 more horsepower (241 vs. 181) and 122 lbs.-ft. more torque (273 vs. 151) than the MX-5 Miata’s 2.0 DOHC 4-cylinder.

Fuel Economy and Range

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In heavy traffic or at stoplights the SLC’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

The SLC has 4 gallons more fuel capacity than the MX-5 Miata (15.9 vs. 11.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Transmission

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The Mercedes SLC comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the MX-5 Miata.

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Mercedes SLC, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only a six-speed automatic is available for the MX-5 Miata.

Brakes and Stopping

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For better stopping power the SLC’s brake rotors are larger than those on the MX-5 Miata:

SLC

MX-5 Miata

Front Rotors

12.7 inches

11 inches

Rear Rotors

11.8 inches

11 inches

Tires and Wheels

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For better traction, the SLC has larger tires than the MX-5 Miata (F:225/45R17 & R:245/40R17 vs. 195/50R16). The SLC 300’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the MX-5 Miata (F:225/45R17 & R:245/40R17 vs. 205/45R17).

The SLC 300’s standard 225/45R17 front and 245/40R17 rear tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series front and 40 series rear profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the MX-5 Miata Sport’s standard 50 series tires. The SLC’s optional 225/40R18 front and 245/35R18 rear tires have a lower 40 series front and 35 series rear profile than the MX-5 Miata Club/Grand Touring’s 45 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the SLC 300 has standard 17-inch wheels. Smaller 16-inch wheels are standard on the MX-5 Miata Sport. The SLC’s optional 18-inch wheels are larger than the 17-inch wheels on the MX-5 Miata Club/Grand Touring.

The Mercedes SLC’s wheels have 5 lugs for longer wheel bearing life, less chance of rotor warping and greater strength. The Mazda MX-5 Miata only has 4 wheel lugs per wheel.

The SLC has a standard space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the MX-5 Miata; it requires you to depend on roadside assistance and your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

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The SLC offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The MX-5 Miata’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The SLC has vehicle speed sensitive variable-assist power steering, for low-effort parking, better control at highway speeds and during hard cornering, and a better feel of the road. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer variable-assist power steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the SLC’s wheelbase is 4.8 inches longer than on the MX-5 Miata (95.7 inches vs. 90.9 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the SLC is 2.1 inches wider in the front and 2.4 inches wider in the rear than on the MX-5 Miata.

Cargo Capacity

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The SLC has a much larger trunk with its top down than the MX-5 Miata (6.5 vs. 4.6 cubic feet).

With its convertible body style, valet key and remote trunk release lockout, the SLC offers cargo security. The MX-5 Miata’s non-lockable remote release defeats cargo security.

Servicing Ease

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The SLC uses gas struts to support the hood for easier service access. The MX-5 Miata uses a prop rod to support its heavy hood. It takes two hands to open the hood and set the prop rod, the prop rod gets in the way during maintenance and service, and the prop rod could be knocked out, causing the heavy hood to fall on the person maintaining or servicing the car.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Mazda. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes fifth in service department satisfaction. With a 59% lower rating, Mazda is ranked 25th.

Ergonomics

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When three different drivers share the SLC, the memory system makes it convenient for all three. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver and front passenger’s seat positions, steering wheel position and outside mirror angle. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a memory system.

The SLC’s standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The SLC’s power parking brake sets with one touch and releases with one touch or automatically. The MX-5 Miata has a lever-type parking brake that has to be strenuously raised to engage properly. It has to be lifted up more and a button depressed to release it.

The SLC’s front and rear power windows all open fully with one touch of the switches and its front windows also automatically close, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The MX-5 Miata’s power window switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully. Only its front windows open automatically.

If the windows are left open on the SLC the driver can close them all at the outside door handle or from a distance using the remote (remote must be aimed at door sensor). On a hot day the driver can lower the windows from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the MX-5 Miata can only operate the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

In case of a sudden change of weather, the SLC offers an optional remote convertible top that can be raised from a distance to protect the interior of the vehicle from damage. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a remote top, so the driver will have to run to the car, get in, turn the ignition on (with available power top) and raise the top to prevent the interior from being damaged.

The SLC’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The MX-5 Miata Sport/Club’s standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the SLC to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The SLC offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The SLC has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The MX-5 Miata has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the Grand Touring.

The SLC’s sun-visors swivel front-to-side to block glare from the side windows. The MX-5 Miata’s visors are fixed into the windshield header.

The SLC’s standard outside mirrors include heating elements to clear off the mirrors for better visibility. Mazda only offers heated mirrors on the MX-5 Miata Grand Touring.

When the SLC is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The MX-5 Miata’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The SLC’s optional dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

A built-in pollen filter removes pollen, exhaust fumes and other pollutants from the SLC’s passenger compartment. This helps prevent lung and/or sinus irritation, which can trigger allergies or asthma. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer a filtration system.

To keep a safe, consistent following distance, the SLC offers an optional Active Distance Assist Distronic, which alters the speed of the vehicle without driver intervention. This allows the driver to use cruise control more safely without constantly having to disengage it when approaching slower traffic. The MX-5 Miata doesn’t offer an adaptive cruise control.

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