Mercedes AMG GLC63 S — Chills and thrills

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Power can be intoxicating so it's little wonder why the 503-horsepower Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC63 S Coupe is so stimulating and electrifying to drive. The GLC Coupe is one of a new breed of luxury crossovers that add fastback styling and a great deal of go-anywhere functionality and cargo-carrying capability to an awesome driving experience.

Those who want just such a hatchback can purchase a 2018 GLC in a more affordable yet performance-oriented model with a choice of a 241-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, a 315-horsepower plug-in hybrid, a lesser AMG 43 configuration with a 362-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6, or the standard AMG 63 without the "S" designation with 469 horsepower.

But what's the fun in those configurations when you can have — for a substantial outlay of cash — a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V -8 pumping out 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque directed through a 9-speed shiftable automatic transmission that has been clocked in a 0-to-60 time of 3.7 seconds.

Both the GLC63 and GLC63 Coupe are all-wheel-drive, with a top speed electronically limited to 174 mph. An air suspension system with adjustable damping increases ground clearance, and with a touch of a button raises the vehicle allowing the ability to negotiate water with almost a foot of ground clearance. All this is driver configurable with four modes (DYNAMIC SELECT in Mercedes parlance) — Comfort, Sport, Sport + and Individual — via a toggle switch on the center console.

The modes set key parameters such as engine, transmission, suspension, steering, and all-wheel drive. Independent of the DYNAMIC SELECT drive programs, the driver has the option of pressing the "M"button to switch directly to manual mode, in which gearshifts are executed exclusively using the shift paddles on the steering wheel.

For everyday driving the Sport + setting can be a bit too much. Set the car up in the Sport mode and you will have all the fun you can safely handle as well as the speeding-ticket quickness built into the muscular V-8. Although gas mileage will not be a concern for most of the GLC63 S buyers, it is EPA-rated at 16 mpg city, 22 highway and 18 overall on premium gas.

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 taillamps are cleverly artistic.

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. Mercedes logo LED puddle lights 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. There are carbon fiber accents, and red contrast French stitching on the instrument panel, steering wheel and door panels. Red seat belts with cranberry colored stitching add to the appeal.

Seating room up front is adequate, however rear seat headroom is compromised because of the dramatic sloping roofline; ditto for rear cargo space which has only 18 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded it expands to 56.5 cubic feet. Still there's room in the rear seats, which are heated, but disappointedly there isn’t a rear-seat USB port.

The optional $990 head up display in terms of size, positioning and clarity is one of the best we've 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.

A Multimedia package is offered, with a navigation system, touchpad controller and an 8.4-inch central display screen that we think is worth the $2,200 price of admission. There's also an option that bundles Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Standard on our test vehicle was the outstanding Brumester surround sound system.

The AMG GLC63 S Coupe carries a starting price of $81,745 including destination charge. Subtract the S designation and shave off a few horsepower and the starting price drops to $71,000. Our S Coupe test vehicle with numerous options carried a bottom line of $94,195.

Base price: $81,745; as driven, $94,195
Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8
Horsepower: 503 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 516 foot-pounds @ 1,750 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed AMG Speedshift
Drive: all-wheel drive
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 113.1 inches
Length: 186.8 inches
Curb weight: 4,511 pounds
Turning circle: 39.7 feet
Luggage capacity: 17.6 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 49.4 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 17.4 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 16 city, 22 highway, 18 combined
0-60: 3.7 seconds (manufacturer)
Also consider: Audi SQ5, BMW X4 M40i, Range Rover Sport SVR

The Good
• Agile handling and comfortable ride
• Enormous power
• Well-designed interior

The Bad
• Less cargo space than regular GLC

The Ugly
• Poor gas mileage