Like most premium car makers, Mercedes isn’t one to skimp on niches. Especially when it comes to SUVs. More and more 4x4s with top-end badges arrive every year, and they’re getting more and more powerful too.
As such, the latest GLC 63 S Coupe immediately feels like a car of the times. It’s a mid-sized premium SUV sporting an unconventional rakish shape, while under the skin it gets the full AMG treatment, so 503bhp and 700Nm of torque lurk beneath the love-it-or-hate-it design.
Providing that power is AMG’s current go-to powerplant – the 4.0-litre ‘hot vee’ twin-turbocharged V8 found under the bonnet of every AMG 63 model on sale right now, plus, of course, the AMG GT. Over the last few years this unit has proven itself as a marvellous V8, and the fact that it feels so good to toy with even in one of the firm’s SUVs makes the case for it to be an engine we’ll remember in years to come.
503bhp is far from as far as it can go, but it feels the right amount in the GLC 63 S Coupe, assisted by that enormous 700Nm torque figure. As such, that 3.8 second 0-62mph time – the same figure quoted for the regular GLC 63 S – feels achievable with a good launch and the car pumped up to its most potent settings.
It’s an amazingly flexible engine too, though. Flick the optional AMG Performance exhaust button to open the exhaust valves, and the otherwise collected and un-intrusive burble coming from the back end transforms into a rich bark, complete with huge crackles on lift off. The car’s selectable driving modes serve up truly palpable changes too; in Comfort it’s a true V8 cruiser, though it gets steadily more responsive and racy as you flick through the four pre-programmed modes, right up to the full blown Race configuration. An Individual setting allows you to tailor nearly everything, with options to alter the engine and nine-speed transmission’s responsiveness, the exhaust, the traction control unit and the standard AMG tuned air suspension and adjustable dampers as fitted on our car.
On motorways it’s a comfortable cruiser, and AMG’s suspension tweaks don’t seem to have come at the cost of ride quality on faster roads. At low speeds the car’s firmer edge is evident, though, and it is liable to fidget. At a crawl, it feels like the rubber wrapped around those huge 20-inch wheels likes to sag onto its sidewalls a little too, dragging the steering wheel and making tight, snail’s pace manoeuvring slightly awkward.
Naturally for an AMG product, it is possible to drive the GLC 63 S hard. The steering set-up itself is snappy and very well weighted, though it’s difficult to escape the demands of the 2,010kg kerbweight when the car is thrown around. Firmed up to the max, it stays admirably flat in hard cornering, but this is much more of a straight-line weapon compared with the Porsche Macan.
The cabin itself is as typically polished as you’d expect from a Mercedes costing this much money, though the infotainment is a slightly awkward mix of old and new. Merc’s COMAND unit is fairly straightforward to operate, but the display itself is a floating 8.4-inch screen, rather than the impressive dual 12.3 fully digitalised set-up spanning the dashboard, as seen in many of the firm’s latest models. Typical AMG interior trinkets such as the steering wheel, instruments and heated sports seats unique to S versions differentiate the cabin from more everyday models, while our car’s carbon and aluminium trim is a £545 option.
Opting for the Coupe over the regular GLC means a minor practicality penalty. Headroom in the back is slightly pinched and the 500-litre boot is 50 litres smaller. Whether you prefer the shape of the more conventional GLC or the Coupe is purely subjective, though, and these impracticalities are only minor downsides if you’re sold on the styling.