a small suv with a big heart
Is the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 the Ultimate Jack-of-All-Trades Vehicle?
It’s long been a quasi-ironic musing among auto enthusiasts that Mercedes-Benz’s AMG division will basically tune up any product in the Merc lineup, regardless of how much sense there is in adding sportiness to it. (See: the AMG G65.)
Even by those standards, though, the GLC63 is something of an odd vehicle. At a glance, it looks little different from any of the other compact crossovers clotting up America’s roadways and parking lots in epidemic numbers — modest dimensions, two-box shape, easy-entry driving position. But beneath that rather staid exterior lies a powerplant that channels the mightly likes of the E63 and GT 63: a twin-turbo hot-vee V8, a nine-speed multi-clutch automatic and a performance-tuned all-wheel-drive system that shuffles power where it’s needed with the dexterity and speed of a card shark.
Add in the host of small-but-substances made to the GLC-Class for the 2020 model year, such as the latest version of the carmaker’s infotainment system, and the time seemed prime to take this welterweight AMG SUV out for a spin to see how it comports itself in the real world.
Think of it kind of as a CR-V with a Corvette engine.
Obviously, there’s more to it than that — AMG sportifies the suspension, the all-wheel-drive system, and plenty of other parts to make the GLC63 into a well-rounded performance machine. But at the end of the day, the GLC-Class is 184 inches long and 64 inches tall, while the Honda CR-V is 182 inches long and 66 inches tall; the GLC63 has a V8 making 469 hp and 479 lb-ft, while Chevy’s outgoing C7-gen Corvette Stingray had a V8 making 455 hp and 460 lb-ft. It’s a laughable proposition on paper, but somehow, it works.
It may not be the quickest GLC63, but it is the better one.
If you want the sportiest, most powerful GLC-Class — the GLC63 S — there’s a catch: you can only get it in the form of the GLC Coupe. Tempting as the added power and performance features might be, it’s hard to make the case that the slight gains over the regular GLC63 are worth the added price and the awkward looks of that SUV/coupe/sedan mish-mash.
In most cases, the S version is the AMG to get; here, though, the regular GLC63 is the Goldilocks spot. The GLC63 S would probably be faster on a track…but who tracks a compact SUV? Besides, the conventional shape not only looks better, but it offers more cargo room — which, presumably, is the reason you bought this over a C63.
It’s not the sports car we deserve, but the one we need right now.
Even if you stretch the term to the limits of plausibility to include SUVs, the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 is probably nobody’s dream sports car. It may well be the best sports car for your actual life, however. In spite of its height, it’s surprisingly fun to throw around, driving more like a lower-slung vehicle than it has any right to. (So long as you keep it below 10/10ths, of course, but with this kind of grunt and grip underfoot, you’ll only need to go that hard if men with guns are chasing you.)
Yet it also offers a boxy, flexible interior with space for bulky items that a sports sedan could only dream of taking on, enough ground clearance to clamber over curbs with aplomb (as I found when I had to go around a stalled car on an on-ramp by clambering up and over the curbed shoulder) and a comfortable, tech-laden interior with seats suitable for six hours at a stretch and an infotainment system screen so clear, you can discover new moles and freckles on the artist’s photo on the album cover art that pops up when Spotify is running through the CarPlay. You probably never thought of the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 as the car you really need in your life, but it just might turn out to be the perfect fit.
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