‘The GLC 63 AMG is one of the best all-round, do-everything family hauler, all-weather-capable/all-wheel-drive crossover and musclecar’ according to CGC tester, Dan Scanlan.
The ‘20 MERCEDES-BENZ: GLC 63 AMG is a crossover. It can easily shuffle off to school with the kids. Or its slightly more powerful version – the GLC 63S – has lapped the Nürburgring in 7.49.369 minutes, making it the fastest SUV in the world at the time. Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=_dzBY8KAbKA
Our GLC 63’s hand-built twin-turbocharged 469-horsepower V-8 is still plenty fine, bellowing inside a gorgeous Cardinal Red Metallic paint job and hunkering on grippy 21-inch Pirelli P-ZERO rubber. The plaque atop our engine says Jovan Pelkovic built it. With maximum torque of 479 pound-feet – no doubt helped by the twin turbochargers – It lets you know how much power it has when you open adjustable flaps in its exhaust system via the AMG DYNAMIC SELECT mode. But even in the quiet mode, it emits a bark before settling down to a muscular grumble. Kids, hang on!
Set in Comfort, our 3,000-mile-old ‘20 MERCEDES-BENZ: GLC 63 AMG launched briskly with a subdued roar to hit 60 mph in 4.5 seconds – quick by any standards. The nine-speed automatic transmission has a wet start-off clutch vs. torque converter for less weight and better response. All four tires gripped as almost 4,500 pounds moved out, the automatic stumbling a bit on launch before snapping off smooth shifts. That setting helped eke out 19 mpg on premium.
Set Sport+, which delivers all the engine, opens the exhaust valves and clicks off traction control, and we launched stronger, quicker shifts hitting 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. Then there’s launch control – push brake and gas, wait for the gauge display to say Go and release the middle pedal. The result – 60 mph in 3.9 seconds, 100 mph in 10 seconds, with brutally quick, decisive upshifts and a raging snarl and bellow that can pin you in your seat. Paddle a downshift and there’s a throttle blip, then exhaust bark and crackle-pop overrun. Bury the 15.4-inch front/14.2-inch rear cross-drilled, ventilated disc brakes pedal from high speed, and it barely dipped its grille as it stopped NOW – straight with no issues. There was no fade after repeated use. That G-meter claimed almost 1 G on launch, and about the same as we braked!
Under its scarlet skin, there’s independent multi-link air front and rear suspensions with adaptive dampers and stabilizer bars, plus an electronically controlled differential lock that can send all power aft, or up to half frontward. An AMG-specific rear axle gives the AMG a wider track than the base GLC, quite visible from the rear as Pirellis peeked out from the corners.
The ride in Comfort was supple and just firm enough, bumps handled smoothly with well-buffered rebound. Put it in Sport or Sport+, and the ride motions were harder, more tightly controlled, bumps stopped quickly with quick buffering at full rebound. It was never harsh. The GLC 63 AMG was very sure-footed, all-wheel-drive letting the rear axle variably transfer power to the front with quick torque split. It was very neutral powering through a highway exit ramp, just a hint of body roll.
On our skid pad, the front got power and pulled us around with ease, totally comfortable and controlled with a bit of lean. Understeer was minimal; the Benz just powered through while pulling 1G in cornering. The electronically controlled locking differential, standard for 2020, reduced slip on the inside rear wheel when cornering so we could accelerate out of corners earlier with improved traction.
Go to Sport+ and turn off traction/stability control, and the GLC 63 AMG almost became a rear-wheel-drive sports sedan, able to power the back rubber out a bit. The electromechanical speed-sensitive power steering was precise and well weighted, even a bit heavy in Sport+, but making this big crossover just nimble in curves and responsive to input. New for 2020 is the “Slippery” setting for all-wheel drive, with variable torque distribution front and rear for rain, mud or snow. As for driver safety, there’s no semi-autonomous ability here, just blind spot alert and brake assist, so I just drove!
Stitched leatherette, aluminum trim, grained black ash wood and lots of leather and suede join lots of tech in the driver-centric cockpit. The AMG sport seats with multiple power adjustments and three memory presets for both are nicely bolstered. The flat-bottom steering wheel has big alloy paddle shifters in back, and cruise, phone, voice command and audio buttons in front. It’s power tilt and telescoping, with touchpads that handle the dual-screen MBUX infotainment system added for 2020.
The driver gets a multi-configurable 12.3-inch digital gauge display with three options. Classic and Sport mimic a 200-mph analog speedometer and 8,000-rpm tach, with configurable information display in the middle for navigation, performance settings, audio, phone and more. Supersport goes with a central tach, inset digital speedometer, then basic day/date to keep it simple.
There are two new controls below the wheel’s upper spokes. One lets the driver select the exhaust sound, suspension setting, Sport/stability control, auto engine start/stop, and manual paddle shifting. On the right, there’s a thumbwheel to set Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ or driver-selectable Individual drivetrain and suspension modes. These echo controls on the center console.
The right steering wheel touchpad controls the 10.25-inch touchscreen atop the center dash. There’s a detailed navigation map, which splits the screen to add the front camera view with arrows showing which road you should turn when an address is inputted. There’s a superb Burmester surround sound audio system, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. That main screen also shows a performance page to set drive modes, display instant horsepower and torque, or all-wheel-drive split, G-force and percent throttle and brake. There’s TRACK PACE, to record lap times at racing circuits, show turns, braking points, delta speed and absolute times. It analyzes laps on racetrack maps already loaded, or those you configure yourself. There’s also a drag strip theme, with telemetry you can record.
Don’t want to use buttons or touchpads? Just say “Hey Mercedes,” and a phrase can access navigation, infotainment and vehicle operation without a hand straying from the wheel. It was almost flawless, but sometimes activated accidentally if I mentioned “Mercedes” in conversation!
The back seat is ready and roomy for kids or adults, with great head and legroom under the rear moonroof. The rear cargo area is wide, deep and fully carpeted, with controls to drop the 40/20/40 rear seatbacks. The hatch powers open with a wave of a foot, high enough to clear my head.
Our ‘20 MERCEDES-BENZ: GLC 63 AMG is 1.5 inches lower than the base GLC, with a gaping AMG-specific 17-bar grille and big Benz star center-stage. It’s flanked by redesigned LED headlights framed by DRL slashes. Flared black wheel arches trim each fender, highlighting 20-spoke AMG alloy wheels. Their thin spokes allow a neat view of huge perforated disc brakes with gray AMG-badged calipers. The sculpted bumper has a black lower fascia with quad stainless steel tailpipes with AMG logos and rear diffuser fins. It is low and aggressive, more muscle car than family hauler.
A base Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 starts at $42,500, while our GLC 63 AMG starts at $73,750, with the AMG twin-turbo V-8, Burmester audio, navigation, AMG sports seats and more standard. Our options: $2,590 ash wood trim; $1,080 black Nappa leather; $1,500 wireless phone charger; $1,290 auto-park and surround-view camera; $1,000 AMG 21-inch wheels; $1,500 panoramic moonroof; $250 AMG Track Pace, and more. Final price: $83,655.
Words & Photos: Dan Scanlan
For more information about the ‘20 MERCEDES-BENZ: GLC 63 AMG and its latest luxury-performance vehicles, please visit https://www.mbusa.com/en/home