- What’s best: Beastly biturbo V8 power, eye-catching lines
- What’s worst: Not the roomiest vehicle you’ll find in the segment, especially if we’re talking cargo capacity
- What’s interesting: Edition 1 style add-ons do a good job of being eye-catching without being retina-searing
I remember a Top Gear episode where host Jeremy Clarkson chooses the VW Golf GTI’s golf-ball shift lever as kind of the pinnacle of German comedy; their answer to Monty Python, apparently.
All that considered, however, he may want to take a turn behind the wheel of the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S compact-crossover-coupe thingy; of course he probably already has, but I digress. He should try it, because if you don’t encounter just a little bit of mirth when you consider a vehicle in a segment rife with grocery getters with tires wider than those of a McLaren 570S, biturbo V8-power, deep-bolstered seats, AWD, and an exhaust note to rouse the dead, then I’d say it’s you and not the car that has the comedy problem.
The GLC 63 S, unlike last year’s much tamer GLC 43, is what some would call a “proper” AMG model in that it sticks with the AMG ethos of “one man, one engine”, whereby a single AMG engineer works on the engine, and signs the engine cover as proof.
More practically, what it means is 503 hp and 516 lb-ft, fed to all four wheels (but mostly the rears) through a 9-speed gearbox. It also means a 0-100 km/h sprint of about four seconds on to a limited 250 km/h top speed (280 if you opt for the AMG Driver’s Package our car didn’t have) – best you harness those groceries. Flip open the hood, and there’s no bones about it: the way you can see the two turbo snails nestled in the “V” – yes, the GLC gets a “hot vee” treatment – leaves very little to the imagination.
You’ll want to be careful how you load those groceries, though; technically, Mercedes labels the car you see here as the “coupe” model; there’s also a more traditionally-shaped version that does away with this car’s steeply-raked rear window. Pile all that schnitzel and Becks too high, and you’ll be sorry. Be creative as I was, however, and you should be able to fit a family of three in there—rear-facing child seat included—for a weekend getaway.
While the coupe may be the less practical of the pair, by God if it isn’t dizzyingly attractive. I make nothing up when I say that I had friends—old, old friends—come up to me and comment on just how good-looking the GLC was. And these are guys and gals that I can certifiably say are not car people by any stretch of the imagination, it’s just that this particular GLC, with its fastback profile, smoked rims, tail spoiler and traditional waterfall grille is elegant yet muscular considering its bulldog-ish proportions.
My particular tester had the benefit of being an “Edition 1”, meaning all sorts of neat-o interior accoutrements to make this already pretty special crossover even more so. Yellow script on the kickplates matches the colour of the diamond stitching on the seats, as well as the Alcantara steering wheel’s centering band—a centering band, on a crossover!—door and dash stitching, and floor mat trim. It’s all tied together by those seats, though; they really make for a proper sense of occasion that I was not expecting before I threw open the door, and subsequently had my socks knocked straight off.
I guess it’s a shame my particular tester didn’t have the yellow exterior decals to match, but even without them, you can still tell that the designers really didn’t want to let the engineers have all the fun.
Perhaps not, but after spending a week at the wheel of this thing, it’s pretty clear to me that the engineers had a tonne-o-fun regardless.
Mashing the throttle unleashes a fury no small crossover should ever harbour—it’s as if the GLC was the youngest in the family, and it’s making up for all those times the bigger cars made fun of it. It’s tidal, this power delivery and I don’t have to tell you that it feels all that much more surreal considering you’re sat higher than you would be in a C 63 sedan or coupe; as per Mercedes’ nomenclature, the “C” in “GLC” essentially pins the GLC as the SUV/CUV of the C-Class family. The sound, as is expected from an AMG product, is properly guttural, the V8 announcing its presence as soon as you fire the engine, its tone increasing as you reach a crescendo at about 6,000 rpm or so.
While technically the GLC 63 comes with 4Matic AWD as standard, there’s a little more to it than that. It gets AMG’s Performance 4Matic AWD system, meaning that as a baseline in normal conditions, the rear axle gets almost 70 per cent of the power. This is a boon for acceleration and when carving through the bends I was surprisingly keen to tackle, providing chassis rotation provided by a RWD vehicle, but with the peace-of-mind you get knowing the front wheels can step in at a second’s notice—with up to 40% of available power—to get you out of a hairy situation. Granted, there were a few low-speed, sharp-ish bends that I felt had the GLC pushing a little wider than I expected, but once you learn to expect that, correcting it is a fairly simple affair; go in a little slower, trail brake a little to get the weight balanced, and you’re good to go.
Where you really feel the advantages of this set-up is on long sweepers, where power is subtly transferred to and fro to help keep you on the right path, while the smart stability system helps keep body roll in check. Again; body roll is such that there were times where you can sense that the centre of gravity is a little higher here than it is in a C-Class. Thing is, the seating position is so good at having you feel like you’re in something smaller and more ground-hugging, that it probably has the adverse effect of magnifying what body roll there is.
As mentioned before, power is transferred to the wheels via an AMG Speedshift 9-speed auto, and the attitude of the GLC 63 is so performance-plus that I found myself using them again and again. Of course, there are a host of powertrain and chassis settings that modify everything from damper stiffness to throttle response, as well as shift response. In its most extreme settings, the gearshift is whip-crack fast, occurring as soon as you grab the right paddle. It’s harsh for normal driving, though, and I found myself switching between the two so regularly that I wished for something akin to the “M” memory buttons on the various BMW M products. No big deal, but since this is a vehicle that is asked to straddle the line between “daily” and “fun” more than some of its siblings, I think I missed a feature like that more here than I did when I sampled the C 63.
It doesn’t really matter, though, does it? The GLC 63 is a looker and a performer and while many—Clarkson included—will pooh-pooh the fact that it’s in a segment best suited for the Nordstrom parkade, I challenge them to drive one first, back to back with a C 63, just to see what it’s all about. Dollars to donuts they’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Top 10 CUVs for 2017
2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic+ Coupe
BODY STYLE: four-door crossover coupe
DRIVE METHOD: front-mounted motor, all-wheel drive
ENGINE: 4L V8, twin-turbo; Power: 503hp; Torque: 516 lb-ft
TRANSMISSION: 9-speed automatic
CARGO CAPACITY: 500-1,400 litres
FUEL ECONOMY (EST): 15.1/10.9 L/100 km city/highway
PRICING: $112,740 as tested
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