Admittedly, there are a fair number of vehicles I’m looking forward to getting behind the wheel of this year, however, the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S ranked very high up in the list. So when Mercedes-Benz New Zealand asked if I had some room in my calendar, you can be damned sure I said yes.
It’s not that I’m a huge SUV fan or anything, in fact, probably much to the contrary, but the AMG GLC 63 S seems to sit in the ‘not too big or tall’ category, which makes it small-family friendly… oh who am I kidding? It’s an AMG beast that seems to come straight out of minds of Aufrect and Melcher themselves, it’s bathed in leather and other fine finishes AND has a 4L bi-turbo loud and powerful V8 that’s guaranteed to annoy the most submissive of neighbours. Even the Mercedes PR guy himself says that this is the model he’d go for (mind you, I think he says that about every vehicle I collect from him).
My AMG GLC 63 S came in selenite metallic grey with a plethora of black and chrome accents to accentuate its meanness. Its signature 17-slat grille lets you know that it’s an AMG as does the badging, front and rear. Flared wheel arches surround the 21-inch AMG multi-spoke forged alloys and the ‘jet-wing’ design front apron aids with the big V8 gulping down oxygen when on the move. The SUV styling ensures there’s plenty of head and luggage room inside while the rear sports a roofline spoiler, LED lights, a kicker tailgate (giving entry to 550L of space), a lower rear air diffuser and quad exhaust pipes that aren’t quite connected to the AMG performance exhaust – but they look good anyway.
The interior has been AMG’d up too. Nappa leather seats with a cream insert and AMG embossed headrests. It has a leather and ‘Alcantara feel’ steering wheel that’s loaded with thumb controls for adaptive cruise control, infotainment and instrument clusters. On the subject of screens, AMG has incorporated what would normally now be one long flat panel, into a ‘conventional’ screen and cluster set up and MBUX is there to satisfy your every whim (within reason). There’s also a couple of extra ‘AMG’ specific functions on the menu, there to offer you track and performance information.
The above is all well and good, but this is a performance SUV so the thing I really wanted to do was see if it performed, rest assured it did.
Around town/suburbia and in comfort mode, the GLC acts like a GLC, albeit a little on the firm-ride side. It’s a great family-sized SUV that happily goes about daily and weekend chores with a smile on its face. It fits nicely into parking spaces, offers an array of perks such as your choice of ambient lighting and the Burmester sound system is super clear, as is the 360-degree parking camera.
Turn the dial up a notch into Sport mode and the SUV begins to feel a little more spritely, let’s say that it’s a little quicker at the lights. However, it’s at Sports + that the GLC 63 S starts to really show its teeth. The exhaust note changes, the throttle becomes more responsive, the suspension tightens and the steering is more precise, in many ways, it’s a 43+++. But then, should you dare to poke the bear, take a deep breath and engage Race mode.
With Race Mode, all 503 (375kW) horses bolt from the barn. Off the mark, it takes you just 3.8 seconds to get to 100km/h and just a few seconds more to take you into licence losing territory. It’s gut-wrenching and exhilarating all at the same time. What’s more, this ‘mild-mannered’ SUV has 700Nm of torque which makes it gobbier than my mother in law, and yet thanks to the 4MATIC+ variable all-wheel-drive system plus a multitude of behind the scenes technical wizardry. It feels as stable as a rugby ball in Richie’s hands. Long straights urge you to open up the exhaust baffles while corners are simply the proverbial icing on the driving cake. This is not how an expensive Mercedes-Benz should act, but it’s exactly what you expect from an AMG, in fact moreso.
The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S is precisely the experience I was hoping for. It’s a sophisticated and smart mid-sized SUV when the family is en-tow but an absolute thug when it wants or needs to be – which is more often than not – hehe.