Mercedes-AMG GLC63 review: Performance SUV brings V8 appeal
SUVs may be all about space and functionality but Mercedes-Benz continues to bend the rules, extending the upgraded GLC range with the latest AMG-fettled versions.
Stying tweaks include fresh bumpers and spoilers and the addition of the familiar toothy AMG grille to the 43 model.
But it’s the GLC63 that continues as king. Available only in the most potent 63 S guise, it brings a mighty 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 to the fast SUV party.
The updated AMG GLC refines the formula rather than reinventing the genre, which Mercedes keeps deftly honing.
The V8’s outputs are unchanged, its 375kW and 700Nm channelled via a nine-speed automatic will blast the wagon from rest to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds.
The engine doesn’t sound as angry as it is in some of AMG’s sports cars but the throaty warble and occasional crackle are aural reminders that you’re never short on pull.
After the initial thrust off the mark, revs build to a crescendo yet there is still urge for potent acceleration.
On 21-inch wheels shod with Continental tyres, the ride is inherently firm. Adjustable air suspension enables smooth progression from urban shuttling to bahn-storming pace.
Impressive grip levels and cornering prowess allow for spirited attacks on twisty roads.
The driver can toggle between Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes to tweak the suspension settings as well as throttle response and gearshifts.
Sport ties things down deftly for higher speeds but Sport+, typically too jarring, is best deployed on smooth bitumen.
In either model, hitting a decent sharp edge will send the slap through the body. For lesser impacts, there’s just enough compliance in Comfort to settle things with bucking.
Adding to the appeal of the GLC are the generous accommodation for a family and the broad and flat boot — as is the $161,000 (plus on-road costs) price tag, a few thousand less than previously.
Splash out another $7100 for the Coupe body style, with a stumpier tail and roof that falls away more dramatically. There’s significantly less rear headroom, which is unlikely to upset the little ones but is more of an issue once a lanky teenager piles aboard.
The Coupe gets nifty touches, such as the reversing camera hidden in the Benz badge, which doubles as the boot release.
Its compromises are further aft. The lip on the Coupe’s boot makes loading more of a lifting exercise, the luggage space is less than in the wagon (500L versus 550L) and it forfeits the panoramic sunroof, downsizing to a regular item.
Overall, equipment levels are generous, with leather trim and electric adjustment for everything that opens and flips. Elegant wood and metal finishes create a classy ambience.
A head-up display adds to the customisable instrument cluster and 10.25-inch centre screen that now incorporates Benz’s latest voice-controlled infotainment.
In building and refining the mid-size SUV, Mercedes has occasionally compromised. Now the GLC gets seductive appeal with the mighty V8 and the promise of sports car pace.
Mercedes-AMG GLC63 vitals
Price: From $161,000 plus on-roads
Warranty/servicing: 3 years/ 100,000km, $4050 for 3 years/60,000km
Safety: 5 stars, 9 airbags, AEB, rear camera, lane keep assist, 360-degree parking aid, driver monitor, pre-crash preparation
Engine: 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbo, 375kW/700Nm
The everyday version
At $109,900 (or $117,400 for the Coupe) the GLC43 with twin-turbo V6 is a tempter for those on a slimmer budget, even if it has crept up thousands of dollars over its predecessor.
It’s also almost half the price to service for the first three years ($2250 versus $4050 for the V8).
Thanks to larger turbochargers that unlock 287kW/520Nm, it lacks little in everyday excitement compared with its V8 cousin and delivers most of what you can use on speed-restricted Australian roads.
It lacks the V8’s aural drama but displays its own likeable personality with a rorty howl and crackles when firing through the gears. With a claimed 0-100km/h time of 4.9 secs it’s no slouch, either.
The GLC43 also does a better job than the 63 of dealing with Australian roads. Riding on 20-inch wheels, it still delivers on cornering nous but has a fraction more suspension compliance to cope with sharp bumps.
Originally published as Mercedes’ new SUV bends the rules