2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic
3.0-liter V6 twin-turbo, DOHC (362 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm; 384 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm)
Nine-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
18 city / 24 highway / 20 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
17.4 city / 11.1 highway / 14.6 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
20.1 mpg [11.7 L/100 km] (Observed)
Base Price: $60,575 (U.S) / $65,375 (Canada)
As Tested: $71,285 (U.S.) / $80,505 (Canada)
Prices include $925 transportation charge in the United States and $2,175 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.
Two turbochargers. 362 horsepower. 384 lb-ft of torque. AMG’s 31:69 front/rear torque bias. 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds. AMG-tuned air suspension. 14.2-inch front rotors. 285/40R20 rear tires. 640 watts and 14 speakers of Burmester surround sound.
Forget all that.
This is a story all about cargo volume. 10-14 percent more cargo volume. Sweet, sultry, scintillating cargo volume.
The 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic lineup is two vehicles strong. In one AMG GLC43, your dog stands up and waits for the liftgate to close. In the other, your dog rolls over, plays dead, and doesn’t get up until the end of your journey.
This is the latter, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe. It’s a genuine performance vehicle, with the power, grip, tenacity, and even finesse one expects from a performance vehicle, but also with style — love it or loathe it — that has practical implications for ol’ Bailey, the Bouvier des Flandres.
According to Mercedes-Benz Canada, with the seats up, the conventional AMG GLC43 4Matic offers 10 percent more cargo volume than the AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe; 14 percent more with the rear seats folded. Of course, it feels like a much larger difference because all of the lost cargo volume in the AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe is up top.
Toss some big Rubbermaid bins and banana boxes in the back of the GLC Coupe — the Cains are moving, we’re stocking up on such things — and they all fit fine.
They fit fine, that is, until you press the tailgate’s close button, start to walk around to the driver’s door, and hear… BEEP. There is no hope of the GLC Coupe exercising its “utility” function, not with this sloping roof.
Laptop bags? Satchels? Messenger bags? The AMG GLC43 AMG Coupe owner surely has more than a few of those, and they’ll all fit. But don’t get too excited about lugging upright Samsonites.This matters, not because there aren’t even less flexible cargo haulers out there, but because this very vehicle can be had in more practical form as the AMG GLC43 4Matic sans coupe. This matters because Mercedes-Benz promotes the GLC Coupe on the grounds of “sporty coupe styling with SUV utility.” It’s neither. There are four doors, not two, and there’s precious little utility with which to play.
However, there are two turbochargers affixed to a 3.0-liter V6 — a V6 which produces 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. Remember the 5.4-liter V8 in the ML55 that made AMG an SUV performance brand at the turn of the century? That V8 produced roughly the same amount of umph: 13 fewer horses; seven extra lb-ft of torque.
And this AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe is only the junior AMG in the lineup. There’s also a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 in an upcoming AMG GLC63 with an additional 107 horsepower and 95 more lb-ft of torque.Yet in the AMG GLC43 there’s no shortage of power. You don’t find yourself leaning back, stroking your chin, waiting for pipe and slippers, thinking to yourself, “If only my AMG GLC43 had 107 more power, then I’d have been able to overtake that 911 Turbo on the hard shoulder.”
There are improvements that could be made. The AMG GLC43’s nine-speed automatic is often flustered, particularly in Sport+ mode when rapid deceleration is followed by modest and then rapid acceleration. First, second, third? Second, fourth, first? Buck and shuffle, pop and crackle, shimmy and shake — what gear do I want?
There are too many to choose from, and not a one of them seems ideal for the given moment.
Typically, however, if the Sport+ mode is left alone and you opt for Comfort or Sport (Eco is just too eco-minded) the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 is nothing less than impressive: always happy to rev, always providing torque at any point on the rev counter, and always making pleasant noises.
The AMG-enhanced V6 is matched nicely to a chassis that benefits from a solid starting point. The basic GLC300 is a high-quality foundation, a capable handler that doesn’t sacrifice ride comfort. Granted, the AMG GLC43 can sacrifice ride comfort, but only if you opt to stiffen the suspension on your own. (There’s a button you can press once or twice beside the central control knob.) No utility vehicle that corners this flat and wears 40-profile 20-inch tires has any right to ride this sedately. It’s firm, sure, but never punishing.These tricks aren’t unique to Mercedes-Benz — there are other SUVs/crossovers that somehow maximize handling without forcing you to accept brutal ride quality; the Porsche Macan is blissfully balanced. But the way in which Mercedes-Benz stopped just short of over-stiffening the AMG GLC43, from making it just a little too capable, pays off in more ways than one. Not only is it comfortable, but the AMG GLC43 communicates better than expected, as well.
With steering and suspension in comfort modes, you get a sense that the AMG GLC43 is working with the road and with you. Otherwise, the AMG GLC43 would simply demand compliance, and you’d be left to trust that the grip is there. No, it’s better than that. Go on, drive it a little faster. Carry a bit more speed through the corner. You’ll know before you overcook it; the GLC43 won’t bite.
In a small premium utility vehicle, particularly an AMG-badged Mercedes, this is the kind of performance you expect. You expect big brakes with big stopping power, numerous driving modes, jaw-dropping acceleration. You expect to be wowed when you option up any $60,575 vehicle to $71,285 ($80,505 in Canada.) You also expect a high level of luxury content: acoustic glass, active lighting, power steering column, sunroof, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, auto high beams.
Naturally, in the German luxury SUV world, you’d need to spend even more to get full luxury content: cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, head-up display, and sunshades are all extras. There’s no panoramic sunroof here, either.
But most of what is present feels good, from the way the central control knob clicks to the way the rear doors close to the way the door handles pull out. The typical Benz shifter is still silly, the main screen continues to look out of place in a car priced above $20,000, the three-pointed star tailgate pull feels plasticky. By and large, however, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 4Matic Coupe is just about worthy of a $71,285 price tag.
Just about. Save around $5,000 and you’ll gain 10 percent more cargo volume, no Coupe nomenclature required. Then you can put the U back in SUV.
[Image: ©2017 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]