Driven - - Launched -

Mercedes-AMG is not unique in the art of stick­ing big V8s into sports sedans, but it is the only man­u­fac­turer who also dab­bles with this for­mat in the pre­mium com­pact SUV seg­ment. While ev­ery­one else is down­siz­ing, the boys from Af­fal­ter­bach are not, and BERNIE HELLBERG JR sam­pled some of the beefy magic at Zwartkops Race­way re­cently.

Al­though Mercedes-AMG no longer just trans­plants bits of tech and home­grown en­gines into Merc prod­ucts – they now de­velop their own cars too – they ar­guably do some of their best work in this way. Su­per sedans like the C63 and E63 fam­i­lies are class-lead­ing ve­hi­cles in their own right, and AMG has the right to be proud of these cre­ations.

But, when they start fet­tling with Merc’s SUVs and crossovers too, the lines between pur­pose and de­sire starts to blur, and a sin­gle mis­step could cause them to lose valu­able princess points in the eyes of their ad­mir­ing, power-ob­sessed fans.

Since AMG is not used to mak­ing flops, they’ve def­i­nitely not done so with the new GLC63S and its coupe vari­ant, with their E63-bor­rowed 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8s, nine­speed au­to­matic, and 4Matic all-wheel-drive sys­tem. With 375 kW and 700 Nm of torque on tap, the lat­ter in a plateau from 1,750 to 4,500 r/min, the Esses rise to chal­lenge ev­ery other hotrod SUV around, and beats (most of) them to a pulp.

Com­pe­ti­tion comes from the likes of Audi, BMW, Porsche and Jaguar, with all of the above, bar the Ma­can Turbo strug­gling to keep pace with the heated Ger­man.

And who can blame them? Any­thing with a zero to 100 km/h sprint time of 3.8-sec­onds is fierce, and when that ‘thing’ hap­pens to be a 1,850 kg SUV, it is all the more im­pres­sive.


In a straight line, the GLC63S (both of them) are very good. Bit­ing down on the tar­mac with mas­sive 20” 265/40 tyres at the front and 295/40s at the rear (21” al­loys are op­tional), the GLC63S in­stantly gets down to busi­ness when the driver sinks the loud pedal – as we dis­cov­ered dur­ing the lo­cal me­dia launch at Zwartkops Race­way. The venue also granted us the op­por­tu­nity to get ac­quainted with the pow­er­ful GLC’s darker magic – its abil­ity to tackle the twisties with ease too.

Fit­ted with the same multi-plate clutch pack from the E63S – that takes the place and role of a torque con­verter to min­imise shift times and pow­er­train losses – that de­liv­ers as much as 60% of avail­able torque to the front wheels. In most sce­nar­ios, though, the GLC63 is bi­ased to­ward rear­wheel drive, which could trans­late into some tail wag­ging un­der load in wet con­di­tions. But that’s not unique to this AMG alone.


Col­lect­ing some of the best bits from other cars seems to be the GLC63S’s forte. Vis­ually it col­lab­o­rates with the AMG GT by nick­ing its ver­ti­cal-slat Panamer­i­cana grille, and larger air in­takes in­stalled in the sig­nif­i­cantly more men­ac­ing front bumper are bor­rowed from ev­ery other con­tem­po­rary AMG. The set-up in­fuses the GLC63S with a pur­pose­ful pres­ence that, de­spite the vast rub­ber un­der­foot, isn’t ob­nox­iously loud. Small black fen­der flares af­fixed to the front wheel wells join sim­i­lar ones in the rear bor­rowed from the GLC43.

In­side, the GLC63 is pretty stan­dard for AMG, al­beit that it feels more solid than some other Merc prod­ucts of late. A con­trast­ing mark dis­tin­guishes the S model at 12 o’clock on the steer­ing wheel, but all ver­sions get Al­can­tara seat in­serts while car­bon fi­bre trim is op­tional. There’s also a car­bon fi­bre ex­te­rior pack­age and op­tional AMG per­for­mance seats.

In case you have missed the fact that Mercedes ve­hi­cles are some of the safest ever built, all the ad­vanced safety tech­nol­ogy you can imag­ine for a car is avail­able on the GLC63S. If you’re the kind of driver who ex­pects to en­gage fully with a car as good as this one (and most AMG driv­ers likely are) you may agree with us that too many elec­tronic aids, au­to­matic-brak­ing, and Big Brother in­ter­ven­tion of­ten just ends up spoil­ing the fun. But hey, the up­side is that you have to mess up well to get it wrong in the AMG SUV.


As far as per­for­mance goes (and let’s face it, be­sides at­tract­ing at­ten­tion and mak­ing a state­ment, this power monger does few things as well as go­ing fast) the GLC63S can’t be beaten, yet. But as a poster child for prac­ti­cal fam­ily mo­tor­ing, it doesn’t fare as well as some other, more pedes­trian of­fer­ings from less ce­les­tial brands.

On the other hand, though, Mercedes-Benz has proven that there is mas­sive de­mand for their uber-pow­er­ful AMG prod­ucts in South Africa, and whether we want them as sta­tus sym­bols, or just en­joy driv­ing them, it is all ac­tu­ally quite ir­rel­e­vant.

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