AMG sets up bout with Alfa

Take one C63. Add ride height and all-wheel drive. Profit?

Top Gear (UK) - - THE TEN -

We won­der when Mercedes de­cided to green-light the GLC 63. Was it when Alfa Romeo un­wrapped the 503bhp Stelvio QV at last year’s LA mo­tor show? Or when videos of a cam­o­ufaged F-Pace that sounded re­mark­ably like an F-Type SVR were up­loaded to YouTube?

If the de­ci­sion came be­fore ei­ther of those, which it likely did, Mercedes may well have thought its only com­pe­ti­tion for its niche-de­fy­ing per­for­mance cross­over would be the six-cylin­der Porsche Ma­can Turbo, whose pop­u­lar­ity is no doubt to blame for the GLC’s im­mi­nent re­lease. It should be so lucky. Good as the Porsche is, the Alfa prom­ises even more.

Which is why the GLC 63 SUV (and ac­com­pa­ny­ing Coupe) looks like a se­ri­ous piece of kit. In prin­ci­ple it’s a scaled-up ver­sion of the C63 on which it’s based. Uses the same 4.0-litre, twin-tur­bocharged V8 with 469bhp, or 503bhp in the GLC 63 S, but adds (rear-bi­ased) all-wheel drive and the nine-speed wet-clutch au­to­matic gear­box from the E63. Three-cham­ber air sus­pen­sion prom­ises to “com­bine ex­em­plary driv­ing dy­nam­ics with ex­cel­lent road-roar and tyre vi­bra­tion char­ac­ter­is­tics”.

Four drive modes – Com­fort, Sport, Sport+ and In­di­vid­ual (the S adds a ffth – Race, for max at­tack) gov­ern the throt­tle re­sponse, steer­ing, gear­box and so on. The damp­ing is con­tin­u­ously vari­able and has three set­tings, Com­fort, Sport and Sport+. These you can switch be­tween re­gard­less of what drive mode you’re in, so in the­ory you can have, say, the sharper throt­tle re­sponse of Sport+ but the softer, more UKfriendly damp­ing of Com­fort. Good.

You may at this point be won­der­ing what the hell they’ve done to the front of it. That’s the Panamer­ica grille from the AMG GT R and its de­riv­a­tives. Said to sym­bol­ise the “con­sis­tently dy­namic de­sign” of the SUV and Coupe, the ver­ti­cal slats, mas­sive three-pointed star and all-in­take lower make for a strik­ing thing. Out back there’s a di­fuser and quad pipes – from which much noise will em­anate (Per­for­mance Ex­haust gives a but­ton for on-de­mand bur­ble).

As well as ex­tra power, torque and difer­ent trim, S cars (Coupes and SUVs) get big­ger wheels with wider tyres, 30mm big­ger front brakes and an electronically con­trolled LSD in­stead of the reg­u­lar GLC 63’s purely me­chan­i­cal one.

Sales start in June. Prices are TBC, but bank on £65k, or there­abouts, and (a long way) up. Bring on the group test.

Been in a C63? Then you’ll know what it’s like in here Edi­tion 1 gets, among oth­ers, yel­low stripes. Sub­tle? No. Cool? Uh-huh

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