This is a mid-sized (by SUV standards anyway) all-wheel drive beetle-crusher that shares its four-litre, twin-turbo V8 with Affalterbach’s two-door hotshot, the AMG GT – and it’s available in both 350kW standard or 375kW S tuning, as either the GLC 63 4Matic+ or the GLC 63 4Matic+ Coupé, each with air suspension, adaptive adjustable damping, a limited-slip rear differential (mechanical on the 63, electronic on the S) and AMG’s nine-speed Speedshift MCT transmission.
This has a start-off wet clutch in place of the usual torque convertor for instant, kick-in-the-kidneys response to the loud pedal, and fast multiple downshifts with double-declutching function for authoritative overtaking. The rear axle is permanently driven, with an electromagnetic clutch taking up to 50 percent of the drive to the front axle, seamlessly controlled by the intelligent 4Matic+ drive.
Engine response, shift points, suspension settings, steering and the level of intervention from the ESP nannybot are defined by ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’, ‘Sport Plus’, ‘Race’ (only on the S) and ‘Individual’ drive modes, including a coast function in ‘Comfort’ mode that releases the clutch on the overrun and drops engine revs to idle.
There’s also an M button to switch the transmission directly into paddle-shift manual mode, while the adaptive damping can be set in three stages – Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus – with individual settings for compression and rebound damping.
The GLC 63 rolls on 10-spoked 19 inch rims shod with 235/55 front and 255/50 rear radials, while the S boasts 20 inch alloys with 265/40 front and 295/35 rear rubber – but you can have up to 21 inches of rim and 295mm of rear tyre tread for a few dollars (OK, a lot of dollars) more.
Wearing its engineering on the outside
As with the AMG GT sportster, the GLC63 has no mesh insert in the Panamerica grille, so the cooling system’s plumbing becomes part of the car’s persona, as in race cars, and the SUV version is the first wagon model with a roof spoiler, while the coupé has the same spoiler as its GLC 43 sibling.
Focus on driving dynamics
Driver and passenger are gently but firmly supported by standard-issue sports seats trimmed in a mix of Artico synthetic leather and Dinamica microfibre; the instrument panel is in black Artico with contrasting top-stitching and aluminium trim elements, while the standard Mercedes touchpad on the centre console is surrounded by the drive mode controls.
The S model adds a sports steering wheel in black nappa leather and Dinamica microfibre, AMG badges on the leather-trimmed head restraints and a special instrument cluster with red highlights.
Build your own
Even by Stuttgart standards the options list for the new GLC is impressive, headed by a number of special packages, including the Night Package with exterior trim elements in gloss black, and the Carbon Fibre package with the light stuff in all the right places and your choice of 20 or 21 inch alloys in two colour variants.
The GLC 63 and 63 S will go on sale in Europe on 16 June and are due for release in South Africa during the fourth quarter of 2017.