Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: as subtle as a sledgehammer

Published:31 May 2018

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: as subtle as a sledgehammer
  • At a glance
  • 3 out of 5
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  • 4 out of 5

By CAR's road test team

Our reviewers: fresh perspectives for inquisitive minds

By CAR's road test team

Our reviewers: fresh perspectives for inquisitive minds

►  Twin-turbo AMG V8 SUV
► Available as SUV or Coupe
► Standard 470bhp or 503bhp

The GLC63 S is the sort of car you really want to dislike. It’s about the size of a modest chalet, sounds like a NASCAR, and its newly-introduced Panamerica grille has all the subtlety of cast iron gate. However – and you see where I’m going with this – it makes perfect sense from the driver’s seat. More sense, in fact, than any other iteration of the GLC. So what did we like about Mercedes-AMG’s range-topping GLC63 S? Read the full CAR review to find out.

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S 4Matic Coupe front tracking

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: aesthetics

Before we get to anything else, it’s worth addressing the large, chromed-up elephant in the room. The GLC63 S is pretty large, and it’s certainly makes a statement, something along the lines of ‘I’m driving into a football ground on transfer deadline day.’ But despite its Premiership-footballer styling, the GLC63 S is a handsome machine.

Mercedes’s large-slatted Panamerica grille – coming imminently to all 63 models soon – actually looks at home on the GLC’s imposing body, and the rest of the car looks muscular without being bulky. The rear of the GLC63 S is a bit harder to love, mind.

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: what’s behind the badge?

There are six versions of the GLC63. That’s two shapes, SUV and Coupe, and two power levels for each of those, the regular 470bhp and the S-badged 503bhp.

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: what’s under the skin?

The engine is essentially the same twin-turbo V8 used in many AMGs, from C-Class to the GT.

The only available transmission is another AMG staple, the nine-speed Speedshift automatic, with paddles if you want to make changes yourself.

All GLC63s are all-wheel drive, with the rears permanently engaged and a 4Matic+ system that shifts torque between front and rear axles automatically. There’s a limited-slip differential lock for good control during fast cornering; it’s electronic on the S variants, mechanical otherwise.

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S 4Matic Coupe side pan

Suspension is independent at the front and multilink rear, with three-chamber air springing and adaptive adjustable damping; straight from the E63 4Matic+. The ESP stability control is three-way adjustable.

The Panamericana grille, previously reserved for the GT family, is employed here to transform the nose, deliberately revealing some of the cooling hardware lurking behind.

Inside, the cabin is good but unexceptional by Mercedes standards. It doesn’t have the latest infotainment from the E-Class and S-Class, although it’s still way ahead of the pack in terms of seamlessly integrated electronic aids.

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: what’s it like to drive?

Like the smaller 43, the 63 is mind-bendingly quick when you put bury right foot in the pedal. But what’s most hilarious about the GLC 63 S is the quantity of power it has in reserve. Whatever speed you’re doing, a sniff of extra throttle adds a double figures, and comes with a rise of the bonnet and roar of 4.0-litre V8. 

The result? You can make steady progress in the GLC, using as a calm, sophisticated, high-speed cruiser. Or you can not do that, and put it in Sport+. In fact, you have a choice of modes to tweak the sportiness of the car’s response to the driver’s steering, braking and throttle inputs. The damping can be adjusted independently. The driving modes (Comfort, Sport, Sport+, the personalisable Individual, plus Race on the S models) do make a difference, but when you have 500-odd lb ft of torque at your command that’s still pretty formidable whatever mode you’re in, even Comfort with its toned-down responses.

Throw in the commanding driving position and the overall driving experience is fantastically silly;  a bit like the G63 S but without the cornering ability of a block of flats. The brakes are suitably powerful and easy to control, while the steering is precise and predictable, and just about weighty enough to be satisfying.

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S 4Matic Coupe rear tracking

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: could you live with it?

Being a modern Mercedes SUV, the GLC63 is comfortable, well made, cleverly laid out, and well suited to adult passengers and luggage. The boot space in the Coupe is less than the SUV (500 litres versus 550 with the rear seats up; 1400 vs 1600 with them down). The Coupe is also heavier, and the view out of the rear window is far more restricted.

Whichever version you’re in, the running costs won’t be cheap. The official combined fuel economy figures are all around 27mpg, and the CO2 output is as high as you’d fear from a V8 (234g/km, or 244 for the more powerful versions), putting road tax for the first year at £1700.

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S 4Matic Coupe interior

On-the-road prices are comparable to the Porsche Macan, starting at £69,320 for the regular GLC63 SUV and rising to £93,619 for the GLC63 S Edition 1 Coupe.

And you can cause a lot more damage to your kids’ inheritance by exploring the options list: there’s a choice of wheel sizes and styles up to 21 inches, a different exhaust system with extra sound-permitting flaps, and a great many different seating and upholstery possibilities.

The last letter in GLC means you’ll find the Mercedes’ interior much like that of the C-class’ – and that’s not necessarily a good thing. While great for it’s time, cars like Mercedes’ own A-class have raised the game, and the GLC is certainly need of the new facelifted C-class’ interior. We expect that’ll be coming soon.

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: verdict

Like booze hounds who drink themselves sober, Mercedes has flung an extra couple of barrels of Special Brew at the GLC and ended up with a car that’s a lot better. That doesn’t make it sensible, or particularly good value, but it’s a very well executed car. It really could be both year-round family transport and weekend funmobile.

There are compromises to comfort and luxury compared to some other mid-size SUVs, and it’s going to drain your wallet as greedily as it slurps petrol. There’s a strong sense of AMG filling as many sub-niches – 500 horsepower 4x4s with no off-road ability, in this case – before such self-indulgence becomes a thing of the past. Enjoy it while you can.

Check out our Mercedes reviews here

Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S 4Matic Coupe side

Specs

Price when new: £78,560
On sale in the UK: Spring 2018
Engine: 3982cc 32-valve bi-turbo V8, 503bhp @ 5500rpm, 516lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission: 9-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Performance: 3.8sec 0-62mph, 174mph, 26.4mpg, 244g/km CO2
Weight / material: 2020kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4745/2096/1584mm

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  • Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: as subtle as a sledgehammer
  • Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: as subtle as a sledgehammer
  • Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: as subtle as a sledgehammer
  • Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: as subtle as a sledgehammer
  • Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: as subtle as a sledgehammer
  • Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: as subtle as a sledgehammer
  • Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: as subtle as a sledgehammer
  • Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: as subtle as a sledgehammer
  • Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S review: as subtle as a sledgehammer

By CAR's road test team

Our reviewers: fresh perspectives for inquisitive minds

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