I have never seen any AMG SUV loaded to the roof-lining. Performance SUVs simply don’t get used in the way other SUVs too, their utility demands are much less – and dynamic expectation that much greater.
This is the reason why the smart high-performance SUV buy of 2018 could quite possibly be Mercedes-Benz’s new GLC63s. Launched to the local market this week, and only available in the higher-performance ‘S’ designation, these are the most convincing sportcar chasing SUVs ever to wear AMG badging.
In appearance it might be controversial. A tad. Yellow cabin stitching and exterior styling details, combined with that Panamericana grille don’t create the most elegant of German performance SUVs, but there is no denying the sheer presence of either the SUV or sloping roofline GLC63s.
The formula is not complicated, compact dimensions and massive AMG sourced power. Neither the coupe or SUV GLC63 S are particularly light vehicles, both registering a kerb mass only a few kilograms shy of 2t, but with an additional 25kW and 50Nm boosting from the 4-litre bi-turbo V8, performance is ballistic.
AMG’s nine-speed transmission features a clever launch control function which is many times less complicated to use than any which have gone before. Ensure the dynamic drive mode is set to any preselect other than ‘comfort’, stand on the brake pedal, dial in full throttle, wait for digital confirmation of ‘race start’ between the main dials, and 3.8 seconds after releasing the left pedal you’ll be doing 100kph.
Mass should be the GLC63’s undoing but featuring a wider track, lower ride height and Mercedes-Benz’s brilliant air-suspension system, the engineers from Affalterbach have managed to deliver a performance SUV from AMG which could almost be classed as agile. Mechanical limited-slip differentials front and rear add substantial turn-in bite when you are being overly aggressive with the steering angles and although that helm is devoid of feel, GLC63’s behaviour is uncannily accurate for something of its size and weight.
Choosing between the coupe and SUV derivative will be a personal choice dictated by passenger and hobby requirements but with all its AMG styling accoutrements the SUV does look that much more purposeful than the sloping roofline coup. Mercedes-Benz South Africa are adamant that there will be no 350kW version of the GLC63 released to the local market. Customer behaviour over the last few years indicate that solely ‘S’ models are desired here.
The result is a 375kW/700Nm performance SUV which is a lot less ungainly to drive than any AMG-powered SUV has ever been before. And with the best soundtrack amongst any of its rivals, that civilised hooligan appeal AMG has spent decades perfecting, is overwhelming evident with GLC63 S. In the contest of two bitter Stuttgart performance SUV rivals, Porsche’s Macan Turbo might have precision but GLC63 S has an advantage in character.
Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S R1 572 602
Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S Coupé R1 689 067