Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe: Compact SUV Gets the Sport Treatment
It’s a strange bit of naming from Mercedes, on a vehicle that doesn’t seem to know quite what it is. The badge says coupe, but it has four-doors and a hatchback. And it’s really an SUV, not a coupe. Even the engine badge doesn’t quite know what’s going on. That 43 badge doesn’t refer to a 4.3L engine, but to a twin-turbo 3.0L V6. So it comes out of the gate with some confusion, but how does the 2017 Mercedes AMG GLC 43 Coupe do in the real world?
The GLC-Class is the replacement for the GLK. Mercedes launched it for 2016. The G is for Geländewagen, and wants you to think of the classic G-Wagen. The L fills up space in the middle to look and sound better, and the C means it’s in the C size range. Like the C-Class sedan. The Coupe part refers to the rakish roofline and the much more stylish appearance that it gives the vehicle compared with the regular GLC. It’s like the boxy BMW X5 and the sleek X6. But the GLC Coupe looks a lot better than the X6.
The GLC Coupe is longer and lower than the regular GLC, by 3.1 inches and 1.6 inches respectively. That’s the price of that swooping roofline. Despite the rake, passengers in the back seat will find a surprising amount of headroom. Surprisingly, the coupe roof only costs one cubic foot of cargo space, with 18 cubic feet in the back. Taller items will be a more difficult fit though.
The GLC Coupe comes as either the GLC300 with a 241-horsepower four, or the faster Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 with a twin-turbo V6 and 362 horsepower. They both have 4matic all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic.
My test car was the GLC 43, which means that AMG has had their hands in the works, tweaking the GLC for more performance. It has an AMG-specific transmission with modified shift control, self-lowering (and push-button raising) air body control with sport suspension, and AMG dynamic select. Dynamic select changes the engine and gearbox mapping and stiffens the suspension.
The AMG GLC also has massive brakes with fixed front calipers to help stop this 4,000-pound compact SUV. Those big brakes sit inside absolutely enormous 285 series tires mounted on 20-inch wheels.
The AMG trim adds some sharp looks to the outside. It has a split-diamond AMG grille, new side skirts and a unique front bumper. Out back, look for the quad tailpipes to let the noise out.
Inside the AMG GLC43 Coupe
Inside, the GLC43 has power just about everything. The seats will adjust in just about every way imaginable, with power headrests too. The steering wheel is a sport-wheel with leather trim and a flat bottom. It also has power adjustment.
The center screen is 8.4-inches with no touch support. All controls to the infotainment come through the Mercedes Command system.
The Command system that Mercedes uses to control almost every aspect of the infotainment is not exactly what I’d call intuitive. Commonly used items are buried in menus, and the touch pad that you can use to write letters into the system (instead of scrolling) is difficult to use and blocks the large control dial, making it more awkward to operate the dial.
The dashboard is the same basic layout as the C-class sedan (and the E-Class, although that one is wider), with some extra AMG bits like trim and a checkered flag motif behind the gauges.
The GLC43 comes with standard keyless go, blind spot assist, and a 110-volt power outlet in the back seat.
The options list is long. My car had acoustic glass, active LED lights, the must-have Burmester sound system, as well as real leather. It had the AMG night package that blacks out some of the chrome trim. Intelligent drive adds Presafe Plus, radar cruise control, and active braking for cross traffic alerts, along with steer assist that will maneuver the car for you in many situations (but makes you keep your hand on the wheel). It also had a power tailgate and 360-degree camera.
On the Road
The GLC43 handles well for something this size. The body is well controlled, even when cornering very aggressively. Grip from the massive tires is exceptional. But even in Comfort mode, the ride is more stiff and less well damped than I expect from this level of SUV. You will feel every crack in the pavement, something understandable in Sport Plus, but not in Comfort mode.
The GLC’s V6 offers up lots of power and absolute loads of torque. The 384 lb-ft of torque is spread over a wide rang, enough that a downshift by the automatic is often unneeded.
Mercedes quotes a 4.8-second 0-60 time, and while the GLC feels quick, it doesn’t feel quite that quick. Blame the effort required to spin the big wheels and the heavy curb weight. It might not feel like a rocket ship off the line, but highway passing and merging is effortless.
Do You Want the Coupe or SUV?
While the styling of most SUV-coupes ranges from “not quite” to “what have you done?” the GLC Coupe styling works. Give credit to the extra length allowing for a more graceful tail, along with the slightly lower roof and slightly wider stance. Even better, this coupe doesn’t sacrifice usable passenger space or cargo space for the sake of style.
Unless you absolutely need the extra height in the rear, this is the GLC I’d pick. The only thing missing is the pop and crackle of the AMG Performance Exhaust that’s an option on the C43 coupe and sedan. That delight needs to be an option here too.