Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S review: hot sauced hero
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2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic+
- Incredible power in a compact package
- Best sounding SUV you can buy
- Looks aggressive
- Cabin not as modern as other AMGs
- Narrower appeal than many super-SUVs
- Some might say it’s OTT
Have you ever ordered your Mexican loaded with hot sauce and Jalapenos and thought: “Ahhh… gosh, that’s a bit hot!”.
It’s burning your lips. You have to breathe out your nose, and no fluid short of a glass of liquid nitrogen will relieve the burning sensation. Even milk feels like a cup of petrol on the oratory inferno. It’s the type of taco you know there will be repercussions, you know, “later”…
What a sane person should do at this point is put the taco in the bin and admit defeat. But when we order the “hot” option, the daredevil on your right won’t call it quits that easily.
So we battle our way through third degree burns like it’s some kind of physical challenge and reward. It’s an unnecessary amount of spice, but for some reason it adds to the experience. We want to tame the taco and then we go off and tell our friends and challenge them to eat it. Because we want them to know we had the skills and inner strength to tame the beast.
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That leads me nicely to the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic+. It’s hot, it’s wild. It’s the SUV nobody needs, but it’s the SUV I want. When the DRIVEN team called to say my number had been drawn, I tried to high-five my wife. She left me hanging, with an accompanying blank stare.
That engine is from Mercedes-Benz’s performance house AMG; it’s the hand-built 4.0-litre twin turbo V8. The same engine that Aston Martin decided would be the perfect fit in its Vantage coupe.
We know you can get the GLC in all sorts of spice levels… but forget the mild, you should order your GLC like you order your Mexican: AMG hot!
The thing that makes this car so spicy is that it’s a medium-sized SUV. It’s a Volkswagen Tiguan, Mazda CX-5 or Toyota RAV4 - just with 375kW and 700Nm! The only way to describe the power delivery is “brutal”, ripping to 100km/h in 3.8 seconds.
It’s also faster than its sedan equivalent, the C63 S! Why? Because it’s 4WD. I know, it’s ticking a few boxes isn’t it? Well it is for me!
Let’s discuss the sound. It’s loud. It’s full habanero loud. Guns & Roses meets Metallica, with undertones of Beethoven. It’s raucous, but there’s synergy and order underneath it all.
To put you in the picture of how loud it is, if you were at a café and the AMG’s hammer dropped, your reaction would be to wonder how (the f) that’s legal, in the same way you do when an open-pipe Harley roars past. Except the AMG is a pleasant sound (H-D open-pipe owners, address all complaints to the editor).
The good news is that you can choose a different exhaust setting that makes it more muted, at the touch of a button. There’s sneaking-out-of-home mode right up to hear-it-through-a-helmet track mode, but whatever the setting, it’s wonderful and barky and angry. And don’t let the raucous nature put you off. It will appeal to your heart and soul. It’s the best-sounding SUV on the market; find me a better one.
Something I’m less sold on is the digital dashboard; the current model is yet to get Mercedes’ new “widescreen” digital dash, so this version is an interim, a screen shoehorned into the space where the old gauges used to be. It’s not horrible, but it’s temporary and will better integrate in future GLCs. And you do still get the latest “Hey Mercedes” intelligent voice assistant.
I love the GLC 63’s pit bull stance. Squat and muscular as it crouches in behind its flared guards and ginormous 21-inch wheels. The new model also gets Mercedes-AMG’s aggressive “Panamericana” grille, with those huge vertical bars.
But as much I love the look, it doesn’t have the mass appeal of the Range Rover Sport. If you want to impress others, buy the Range Rover. If you want to impress yourself and maybe a few discerning car nuts, buy the AMG because the rewards are rife.
A few weeks back I drove the V8 diesel VW Touareg and by god it was good. An effortless wall of torque… it even rubbed my back as I drove. The AMG is the direct opposite. Where the VW is understated and effortless, the AMG is an attack on your senses, a modern day hot rod. It’s the Mexican taco with the Californian reaper sauce.
You probably don’t need to it to be that spicy, but you damn well should. You won’t be able to stop eating it.
MERCEDES-AMG GLC63 S 4MATIC+
ENGINE: 4.0-litre biturbo-petrol V8
GEARBOX: 9-speed automatic, AWD