► Mercedes-AMG GLC43 UK review
► Bi-turbo V6 in high-riding coupe body
► Only petrol in GLC Coupe line-up
Like music or comedy, there are some cars that may not make much sense in a rational, objective way, but you find yourself either drawn to them or repelled by them for no obvious reason. There are few more divisive cars from a mainstream manufacturer than this latest addition to the sub-genre of SUV-coupes: the AMG-tweaked high-performance version of the Mercedes GLC. It deserves an extra hyphen: sports-SUV-coupe.
Like the bigger GLE Coupe, the swoopier GLC has its echo in the BMW line-up: the X4, smaller brother to the X6. It can also be compared to the Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Pace and Range Rover Evoque.
Too many letters! What’s the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe all about?
The Mercedes-AMG GLC Coupe body is essentially the GLC SUV with a different roofline, curving more sharply at the back for what you’d describe as a classic coupe shape were it not for the presence of rear doors and the fact that you’re looking up to that roofline, not down to it.
The GLC Coupe was previously available with a choice of diesel engines, but the involvement of Merc’s sporting AMG division brings a twin-turbo V6 petrol engine, a nine-speed automatic transmission and rear-biased all-wheel drive.
We review the diesel GLC 250d Coupe
It’s an engine familiar from the many other ‘43’-badged vehicles across the Mercedes line-up, and very good it is too.
There’s also an air suspension set-up that’s intended to keep the car level at all times, plus some shapely bodywork, upgraded brakes and a high level of equipment in the cabin.
At its best, the GLC43's a blast...
Inside and out, the AMG GLC Coupe will feel, smell and sound familiar if you’ve spent any time in a recent AMG, and isn’t wildly different from a non-AMG Merc. It’s just higher up than most V6 coupes, and better equipped.
Whether or not you like the looks and appreciate the image, you’ll appreciate the craftsmanship, the materials, the comfort, and the intuitive layout of switches and controls.
Fire up the twin-turbo V6 and you’ll enjoy the metallic thrum. Engage D with the steering column-mounted stalk and you’ll like the smooth, easy progress the GLC makes, the nicely weighted steering, the comfortable ride. You may well get a thumbs-up or two from pedestrians, skaters, BMXers etc.
Chugging along through town or country, enjoying the engine noise – especially banging down through the gears as you approach a corner – or the high-quality audio equipment, the GLC43 Coupe can feel like an excellent place to be. It’s also a real blast to put your foot to the floor and accelerate hard uphill, overtaking pretty much anything on four wheels you’re likely to come across.
There’s going to be a ‘but’, isn’t there?
There’s plenty about the GLC Coupe that just isn’t very good. Although it has a big ‘wow’ factor, it also scores high on the ‘whoa’ counter. That’s mostly down to the laws of physics. It’s a tall and heavy car on big wheels and chunky tyres, and it wants to wobble. Whether you’re in Eco, Comfort, Sport or Sport Plus mode, and whether you’re driving in a straight line, over bumps, through bends – it has a much stronger affinity with jelly than you’d want in a 50-grand car.
You’d perhaps forgive this in a genuine off-roader like a Toyota Land Cruiser or Mitsubishi Shogun, but they have much greater carrying capacity, and you’d be happy to fire them at a riverbed – whereas you’d be worried about losing a bit of AMG bodykit or messing up the paintwork on the GLC.
Specs, equipment... What you get for your 50 grand
There’s no shortage of finely crafted hardware, as ever with Mercs. The engine is a brilliant combination of hard-charging and flexible, while the whole package feels like it’s built to last. It comes with very good infotainment and safety electronics packages, with upgrade packages awaiting.
It’s more a four-seater than five, and tall adults won’t be happy in the back. The 40-20-40 split-fold rear seats give some load-carrying flexibility, but the 500-litre boot feels smaller than the figures suggest and it's not that easily accessed.
If you don’t love the looks, there really is nothing here for you. There are alternatives – starting with the non-coupe GLC – that make more sense, offering everything this car does but with more practicality.
And even if you do love the looks, you need to go into this relationship knowing that this is a heavy car that’s not cheap to buy and won’t be cheap to run.
But if you’re OK with all that, there’s much to enjoy about the GLC43 4Matic Coupe. It has a wonderful engine. It’s well equipped as standard, and Mercedes-Benz will happily sell you a variety of extras to make it flashier or louder or safer, according to your preferences and the state of your bank balance. It can be a lot of fun to drive, to be seen in, and to see: it makes people smile, usually in a good way.
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