Tested 6.11.17, Germany On sale Now Price £78,560
Affalterbach’s new hot-rod SUV shifts its ample weight with logic-defying ease
The Mercedes-AMG GLC S 63 is the three-pointed star’s most powerful mid-sized performance SUV yet, catering for a seemingly unquenchable customer appetite for prodigiously powered, muscularly styled, high-riding vehicles. To cover all the bases, the GLC 63 is available in a choice of two bodystyles and in two states of tune; it is the full-fat S version of the more expensive GLC S 63 Coupé that we’re focusing on here.
The GLC S 63 derives much of its technology from Affalterbach’s other creations. There’s the nine-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel-drive system from the E 63, for example, and the GLC’s adjustable air suspension uses the four-link arrangement from the C 63 at the front with the multi-link set-up from the E 63 at the rear. The S version is also equipped with 20in alloys in place of the standard 19in AMG ten-spoke items, upgraded AMG performance seats and an electronic rear-axle differential lock in place of the standard car’s mechanical diff. Naturally, it’s possible to add further optional kit such as an AMG performance exhaust (£1000).
Once you’ve reconciled yourself with the concept of a sleek coupé body sitting atop the high-riding, all-wheel-drive underpinnings of an SUV, the next thing that strikes you is the noise this thing makes. Granted, it is fairly sober upon start-up with Comfort mode engaged on the five-mode Dynamic Select system, but when the aggressive Sport Plus mode is deployed, the thunderous full-bore sound of an old-school V8 is unleashed. Whether you let the automatic transmission change cogs itself or use the steering-wheel-mounted paddles, each downshift is accompanied by a throaty bark and crackle on the overrun.
And, boy, does it feels quicker than a car of this heft should: the S version produces 503bhp and 516lb ft, power outputs that make light work of the two-tonne weight to sprint from 0-62mph in an eye-widening 3.8sec and feels as staggering as the raw figures suggest: find a straight stretch of road, mash the accelerator and the car squats at the rear and takes off up the road like a dragster.
The physics-defying performance is similarly impressive during cornering. Despite the overall weight and the V8 engine in its nose, the GLC 63 S Coupé’s body control is taut and composed in Sport and Sport Plus modes, and even dialling back to Comfort only adds a smidgen of wallow and lean through bends. All this doesn’t come at the expense of ride comfort, either, with the air springs doing a very good job of soaking up road imperfections and maintaining a flat, roll-free attitude.
Its enormous capability doesn’t necessarily translate as pure driver reward in every aspect, though. The variable steering is accurate but, through the thick, squidgy steering wheel, it never provides the same feeling of an intimate connection with the road that a Macan Turbo’s would reward you with. The Mercedes feels more like a point-and-squirt weapon that bludgeons the road into submission, rather than constantly communicating with its driver through every twist and turn.
The coupé makes for a decadent, if faintly ludicrous, modern-day hot rod, albeit one packed with the luxurious appointments you’d expect from Mercedes-AMG. From a practical perspective, however, you pay £2500 more than you would for the five-door GLC 63 to get less interior room and less load-lugging capability.
For the way that it seemingly defies the laws of physics by being capable of shifting more than two tonnes at a mind-bending pace, though, the GLC S 63 Coupé deserves commendation.
AMG’s go-faster overhaul of the standard GLC hasn’t affected its boot capacity, which remains at 500 litres for the coupé, 50 litres fewer than the five-door. MB
Mercedes-AMG GLC S 63 4Matic+ Coupé
Coupé-SUV serves up continent-crushing performance, if not the final word in driver engagement
Engine V8, 3982cc, twin- turbocharged, petrol
Power 503bhp at 5500-6250rpm
Torque 516lb ft at 1750-4500rpm
Gearbox 9-spd automatic
Kerb weight 2020kg
Top speed 174mph
Economy 26.4mpg (claimed)
CO2, tax band 244g/km, 37%
Rivals Porsche Macan Turbo, BMW X4 M40i