Road Tests

Quick Take: 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43

Just enough performance to feel good

Driven by customer demand, automakers are churning out SUVs in every possible size, shape, and flavor. In addition to long-familiar hardcore off-roaders and suburban parkway pounders we’ve all long been familiar with, the list of flavors now includes a broad range of the performance spectrum. At the top sit the likes of the Porsche Macan GTS and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, but those are meant for the hardcore enthusiast. For those that just want a touch of pace, there’s a growing list of options that includes this here 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43.

The replacement for the GLK, the GLC is a handsome SUV with a clean-cut, no-frills exterior that’s both sophisticated and sublime —hallmarks of German auto design. Not too much separates the GLC43 from its non-AMG brethren visually, however; aside from the larger wheels, there’s a slightly different grill, some badges, and that’s it. If sedated styling isn’t your thing, the Stelvio or Jaguar F-Pace may be more up your alley.

Entering the GLC is easy for full-size adults in both the front and the rear. The passenger compartment is surprisingly spacious and you immediately feel it with the airiness of the greenhouse. Stiff leather festoons the seats and door trims, complemented by high-quality plastics and vinyl. The seats are supportive, but they can use more bolstering on the bottoms as I found myself feeling a little unsecured when the road got really curvy.

Like other AMG 43 Benzes, the GLC43 sports an AMG-tuned 3.0-liter, twin-turbo V-6, here offering 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, and its nine-speed automatic and full-time 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system were finessed by Affalterbach’s finest as well. The combined result is a refined drivetrain with little to complain about. The V-6 is silky smooth and turbo lag is virtually nonexistent. At full power, you can feel little pulses in the steering wheel from subtle engine vibrations, reminding you that there’s a baby beast under the hood, waiting to be unleashed. If you’ve been hearing that AMG has been nailing it on the head with their engines, you’ve been hearing correctly and this six is further proof.

The ride of the GLC43 is considerably improved over that of similar GLK models, where the suspension felt overly stiff, thanks in part to the standard, AMG-modified adaptive air suspension. Cycling through the various drive modes changes the parameters we expect when going from Comfort to Sport, or even Sport+. With the latter, the steering stiffens, shocks tighten, and body roll minimizes with a less intrusive stability control profile.

Should you find yourself on a twisty mountainous road, say while driving through Bear Mountain, New York, you’ll find that the GLC43 responds to inputs with superb composure and surprising eagerness. Being familiar with older, lazier Mercedes tillers from years back, the quickness of the steering almost caught me off guard at first. The chassis provides the sort of communication you’d expect from a car with treatment from a reputable German performance division, but the experience isn’t perfect and falls short of the Macan’s ability to feel like it can shrink itself into a bulky 911. And thanks in part to its upright profile, the GLC’s inherent high center of gravity is evidently noticeable in the twisty bits. That said, if you like to drive, the GLC43 will treat you well.

At the end of the day, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 is still a graduate of AMG’s boot camp, it just didn’t continue on to special operations training like the GLC63. It exhibits a sensible balance driving dynamics, practicality, comfort, and luxury without going into excess.

2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Specifications Specifications

PRICE $55,825 (base)
ENGINE 3.0 twin-turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6/362 hp @ 5,500-6,000 rpm, 384 lb-ft @ 2,500-4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, SUV
EPA MILEAGE 18/24 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 183.5 x 76.0 x 64.1 in
WHEELBASE 113.1 in
WEIGHT 4,145 lb
0-60 MPH 4.8 sec
TOP SPEED 130 mph

Buying Guide
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22 City / 28 Hwy

Cargo (Std/Max):

17 / 57 cu. ft.