By: Damian Adams
Built on the Modular Rear Architecture (MRA) platform, which also underpins the current generation C-Class and E-Class, the GLC Coupé has been facelifted fairly recently and is still the only obvious rival to BMW’s X4. What we have here, however, is no ordinary GLC Coupé, this is the in-your-face 375 kW, 700 N.m AMG version and this updated model has seen some tasty additions both inside and out.
On the outside the Coupé is immediately distinguishable from the boxier GLC by a steep tapering roofline and despite sharing a platform, the Coupé variant is almost 80 mm longer than the regular GLC. This model has been handed some subtle yet noticeable exterior updates including a revised front bumper that mimics that of the brands halo GT models, an updated rear diffuser, optional 21-inch wheels and new LED rear lights.
Mercedes-Benz didn’t cut corners when it came to making its performance SUVs fit in with the wider AMG family. Both the new GLC63 S SUV and its GLC63 S Coupé sibling share the brand’s imposing Panamericana grille with their AMG GT cousin. Compared with standard GLC Coupé, this most powerful derivative to date (only the ‘S’ version is offered in South Africa) feature 41 mm wider front tracks (32 mm at the rear) and ride 24 mm closer to the ground.
Subjectively, I prefer the slightly subtler styling of the SUV, including its black wheelarch extensions and generally cleaner lines compared with those of the swept-back Coupé, though perhaps those looking to make a statement might fancy the pronounced proportions of the Coupé. Interestingly, both options boast identical claimed performance figures (including a 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 3.8 seconds), yet it’s the Coupé that weighs closer to the two-tonne mark (1 940 kg) than the SUV.
As ever with AMG products the GLC63 S features uprated performance brakes (390 mm ventilated discs up front) with carbon-ceramic items available as a cost upgrade.
On the inside thankfully the GLC has been brought up to date to match the layout as Benz’s current offerings with exception of the new E-Class, the interior of this most expensive GLC model is lifted above the ordinary ones by way of standard sports seats and a fantastic AMG-crafted steering wheel. As with other Affalterbach-sourced models, an AMG carbon fibre interior package can be added to further enhance and customise the cabin.
A member of the C-Class family by name, the drivetrain of the GLC63 S is largely borrowed from the larger Mercedes-AMG E63 S. Indeed, while in this application the twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine is tuned to deliver 375 kW and 700 Nm of torque between 1 750 and 4 500 rpm, similar to the E63 this grunt is channelled to all four wheels via the brand’s impressive 4Matic+ all-wheel-drive system and the slick workings of a nine-speed automatic transmission. It’s able to send up to 50% of available torque to the front wheels when required, this system also incorporates an electronic limited-slip differential on the rear axle. Unlike in the fastest E, there’s no two-wheel-drive only drift mode offered here.
By way of managing both expectations, those aforementioned dimensions and masses, and the level of driving skill that the average SUV owner is likely to possess, the stability control systems incorporated with one of the most powerful family transports on the market have sensibly be tuned to intervene somewhat earlier than a more spirited driver might anticipate. That said, in the spirit of modern AMGs, a variety of driving modes (ranging from Comfort all the way to Race) allow the GLC63 S owner to configure any number of variables, including adaptive air suspension, steering weight, exhaust note and level of stability control oversight, as conditions dictate.
Impressively well balanced and precise on the road, the GLC63 S Coupé on its optional 21-inch wheels felt appreciably more refined than expected. It’s a significantly more supple ride than that found in the BMW X4 M competition. That said, this near two-tonne beast handles exceptionally well and thanks to its clever all-wheel drive system it can actually put all of its ballistic power down. Despite the heft and increased driving position it feels, sounds and goes like a C63 S sedan without the permanent threat of imminent oversteer. With this familiar character we think this is the closest we’ll get to experiencing an all-paw C-Class until the new version eventually arrives.
Certainly more so than the focussed C63 S siblings (sedan and coupé) and, indeed, more than the brutal E63 S, the new GLC63 S Coupé offers a convincing dual personality.
With its signature burbling exhaust note slightly less antisocial as in the C or E, the GLC Coupe is more than capable of cruising at 120 km/h in ninth gear at around 1 750 r/min, before kicking down to the appropriate cog and attacking the horizon with serious purpose should the need arise. The fact that this SUV, in particular, also offers comfortable accommodation for up to four passengers and their luggage only adds to the appeal. We know that the spectacular AMG 4.0-litre V8’s days are numbered but this experience further cemented our adoration for the raucous power plant.
In a Nutshell: Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S Coupé 4Matic+
Wicked V8 growl, ballistic performance and usable all-paw grip
Rear visibility is pretty poor and the regular SUV version is R200k cheaper
3 982 cc, 8-cylinder, twin-turbo petrol
375 kW @ 5 500 rpm, 700 Nm @ 1 750-4 500 rpm
0-100 km/h in 3.8 sec (claimed)
265/40/R21 (front), 295/40/R21 Continental
12.3 L/100 km (claimed)
9-speed auto, four-wheel drive
From R2 140 480