2018 AMG GLC43 Coupe

PHOENIX — Pick any vehicle in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio of product offerings and chances are, there’ll be a performance-oriented AMG version from which to choose. In fact, the Barons of Bavaria have currently attached the AMG badging to over 40 vehicles, including 11 SUVs. Two of the most recent additions are the compact GLC43 and GLC43 coupe.

The GLC offerings were known as the GLK, before Mercedes made the decision to reorganize their product nomenclature to align their utility vehicles in size to their corresponding sedan sibling. Therefore the SUV counterpart of the C-Class sedan is now the GLC. The mid-sized E-Class sedan’s matching SUV is the GLE and the large GLS aligns with the S-Class sedan.

For 2018 the GLC is offered in two styles: the regular crossover and a coupe version like the GLC43 coupe tested here. The coupe is something BMW has been offering in its SAVs for years with the M40i, which Mercedes is clearly targeting here.

The GLC43 is powered by a 362-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 384 lb-ft of torque, connected to an AMG-tuned nine-speed automatic transmission. If that isn’t enough horsepower for you there’s also a GLC63 with horsepower that tops out at 503 from the twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 engine.

New for 2018, customers can opt for the $1,250 AMG performance exhaust system. It automatically turns on with the sportiest Sport + setting, or you can turn it on yourself with a switch on the center console. The performance sound is somewhat muted in the interior but is definitely noticeable outside. The performance sounds best on V-8 powered AMG models, compared to our V-6 test vehicle.

Both the GLC43 and GLC43 Coupe are all-wheel-drive that Mercedes says will accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds, with a top speed electronically limited to 130 mph. An available air suspension system with adjustable damping increases ground clearance, and with a touch of a button raises the vehicle allowing the ability to ford through almost a foot of ground clearance. All this is driver configurable with three modes to choose from — Comfort, Sport and Sport + – via a toggle switch on the center console.

Outside, the GLC coupe sports a distinctive design with a sloping rear roofline and a corresponding power liftgate that can be operated with a wave of your foot below the rear bumper, chrome quad tailpipes and, a larger spoiler with an AMG badge. The crimson striped LED tailamps are cleverly artistic and look classy.

Up front is the large chrome-tipped diamond-block grille with the chrome front splitter and a prominent Mercedes “star” in the center that lights up at night, along with AMG badging. It looks fantastic. Mercedes logo LED puddle lights are optional for $200, and look great lighting your way in and out of the vehicle when dark.

AMG versions get their own 20-inch wheels, although our tester came equipped with the optional 21-inch summer high-performance tires and AMG twin five-spoke wheels with black accents.

The GLC has arguably the best looking and functional interior in its class and the AMG version even kicks that up a notch. The comfortable seats are bolstered with plenty of room for five adults. There are carbon fiber accents, red contrast French stitching on the instrument panel, steering wheel and door panels. Red seat belts with cranberry colored stitching add to the appeal.

Our test GLC43 had real natural grain black ash wood trim about the center stack and console. We especially liked the two-tone cranberry red and black leather upholstering that perfectly accented the optional Iridium silver metallic exterior color.

There’s ample seating room up front, however the rear seat headroom is compromised because of the dramatic sloping roofline; ditto for rear cargo space. Still there is plenty room in the rear seat, which are heated, but disappointedly there isn’t a rear seat USB port.

Consistent with the Mercedes brand there’s certainly no shortage of high tech features and state-of-the-art operating controls. The optional $990 head up display in terms of size, positioning and clarity is one of the best I’ve ever seen in any vehicle. And do not skimp on the surround view camera system that also includes active parking assist and hands free access. Rearward visibility is severely compromised in the coupe and you’ll more than appreciate the camera system.

Our test GLC43 was not equipped with the $350 Smartphone integration package, which would have made things less fussy and easier to use. While the Mercedes’ “Command” system is never intuitive and somewhat clunky to use we were more than satisfied with the quick, accurate voice commands with the navigation and infotainment system. However, the console operation knob is located halfway under the overly sensitive touch pad controller and kept competing with the touchpad, which is positioned as a wrist-rest; it kept knocking my cursor off my intended functions.

On the road, the most notable experience with the AMG coupe is more power and a firm ride, even when in the comfort setting, and much sharper control and confident handling.

Overall, the AMG GLC43 Coupe is an attractive, versatile, do-it-all that’s part sedan, part SUV with enough power and interesting features to make it an enjoyable drive every time you slip behind the wheel.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $61,395
Price as Tested: $75,745
Powertrain: 3.0-Liter 362-horsepower Bi-turbo V6 with an AMG tuned nine-speed automatic transmission
Fuel Economy: 18-MPG City – 24-MPG Highway – 20-MPG Combined
Seating: 5

Crash Test Results: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2018 Top Safety Pick+

Final Assembly Plant: Bremen, Germany

Competes With:
Alfa Romeo Stelvio
Audi SQ5
Jaguar F-Pace
Porsche Macan

Fab Features
Gorgeous interior
Lively performance
Long list of standard and optional features

— Jim Prueter