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New Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 and GLC 63 S E Performance blast into crowded hot SUV class

Mercedes-AMG’s new GLC twins hit big performance numbers to rival the BMW X3 M

Mercedes-AMG’s second generation GLC models have broken cover, with both GLC 43 and top-spec GLC 63 S E Performance forms set to hit UK roads. The hot GLC models draw their mechanical inspiration from the latest Mercedes-AMG C-Class range, which means that in place of the previous generation’s V6 and V8 engines, both now feature a highly-tuned four-cylinder engines with different levels of hybrid assistance.

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Due to be put on sale late this year or early in 2024, the pair will occupy a higher price bracket than the previous generation GLC equivalents, with prices starting at over £70,000 and £100,000 for the GLC 43 and GLC 63 respectively.

The four-cylinder petrol engine in question is AMG’s bespoke M139l unit, in both cases fitted with an electrically-assisted turbocharger. In the GLC 43, peak power is rated at 415bhp at 6,750rpm with a further 14bhp generated from a small electric motor that acts as a starter motor and generator. Peak torque hits at 500Nm, but is generated right up until 5,000rpm, suggesting how hard that turbocharger is working. The GLC 43 will reach 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds and top out at a limited 155mph top speed. 

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S E Performance has an even more aggressive tune on its four-cylinder engine, with a 467bhp maximum output at 6,725rpm being a world-leading figure for an engine of this type in a production car. Torque sits at 545Nm, this time delivered between 5,250 and 5,500rpm.

The 63 S then integrates AMG’s electric drive system on the rear axle that incorporates a 200bhp e-motor with a twin-speed transmission and limited-slip differential. Combined with the petrol engine, AMG claims peak power and torque figures of 671bhp and 1,050Nm, but these outputs are both only available for short 10 second bursts when in ‘Boost’ mode for the sake of battery and e-motor longevity. 

The GLC 63 S’s battery pack is directly derived from tech used by AMG’s F1 team, so the 6.1kWh unit is not designed for long range but rapid delivery and recuperation with help from a 400V electrical system. So despite the car technically being a plug-in hybrid, all-electric range is limited to around 7 miles, with overall consumption rated at 37mpg on the combined WLTP cycle. 

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As with the wickedly complex C 63, the GLC 63 S also has the ability to send power from the petrol and e-motor to both axles independently, but does without the saloon’s selectable Drift Mode which locks out the front axle’s drive. Both 43 and 63 also feature a MCT nine-speed automatic transmission with a wet clutch for take off. 

Both GLC models feature AMG’s own rear-wheel steering and suspension systems as standard, but only the 63 S ups the ante with a further active-roll stabilisation feature that twists the anti-roll bars to counter lateral roll. Unlike the previous generation GLC 63 S, both feature a steel coil spring setup combined with adaptive dampers, rather than an air system. Compared to a base GLC, the suspension geometry is unique, with a slightly wider track and wider wheels with tyres now up to 21-inches in diameter. There’s also a chunky brake package; the 63 S featuring 390mm front brake discs with six-piston calipers, and 370mm discs with single calipers on the rear. 

If you think all of this hardware sounds heavy, you’d be right. The GLC63 S E Performance hits the scales at an astounding 2,310kg, with the 43 still coming in at 1,975kg. These weights make the car considerably heavier than rivals like the BMW X3 M40i or X3 M Competition. In the case of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, the GLC 63 S is nearly 500kg heavier. 

Both of the GLC AMG models will be available in the UK late in 2023 or early in 2024, with specifications mimicking the C-Class here in the UK. In which case, we expect the GLC 43 to be available in two or three specifications, keeping the GLC 63 S as a single fully-loaded model with a price tag that will almost certainly break £100,000. 

Click here for our list of the fastest SUVs in the world...

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Senior staff writer

Senior staff writer at Auto Express, Jordan joined the team after six years at evo magazine where he specialised in news and reviews of cars at the high performance end of the car market. 

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