Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 2016 review
Mercedes-AMG has breathed its magic onto the GLC SUV. How does it stack up as a fast 4x4?
The Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 is an incredibly fast SUV, but it doesn’t sacrifice comfort or practicality compared with its diesel siblings. The fuel economy might put you off, as might the price tag, but the 3.0-litre V6 petrol and four-wheel drive powertrain is a good fit in the GLC. The looks are a bit too bling but the classy interior, refined driving experience and huge power give the Merc wide-ranging appeal.
The Mercedes GLC is a practical and comfortable family SUV and with that in mind Mercedes has decided to offer it in the UK with only diesel engines. The one exception is this model. It’s the fire-breathing GLC 43 and it features the same 3.0-litre V6 petrol as the C 43 and E 43 models, all developed by Mercedes-AMG.
This one’s easy to spot, thanks to the flashy radiator grille and 19-inch alloy wheels, plus the sportier-looking bumpers and more pronounced tailpipes. On our white test car it’s a pretty conspicuous combination: the GLC 43 gets a lot of attention on the road.
Part of that could be the noise, though, as the 3.0-litre V6 has a sporty growl that sounds great from the outside (it’s less impressive from inside the cabin, which is a shame). It’s not all mouth and no trousers, either: with 362bhp, the GLC 43 is one of the fastest SUVs around.
It’ll go from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds, which is incredible for a 1,845kg SUV. The engine produces 520Nm of torque between 2,000 and 4,200rpm, so while performance is superb from a standstill, it’s also great in-gear as well. If the mood takes you, the V6 will happily blast up to the redline without noticeable fall-off, as the maximum power arrives at 5,500rpm.
The nine-speed automatic gearbox is well-matched to the engine and depending on the driving mode, it can deliver smooth shifts or more aggressive changes. It’s part of the car’s dual character, where it can go from sedate cruiser to manic acceleration when the mood takes you.
The GLC 43 is a superb motorway cruiser, with the slick gearbox and torquey engine meaning it’s easy to overtake when you need to. It’s quiet inside at speed, and while there’s some road noise from the big tyres, wind noise is hushed. It’s comfortable too, with the adaptive suspension coping well at speed while in comfort mode.
If you find yourself on a winding road, there are Sport and Sport+ modes to choose from - and while the dampers stiffen up, the GLC is a bit out of its element. There’s still quite a bit of body roll, to be expected from a tall car like this, and the steering doesn’t have much feel. The 1,845kg kerb weight is also apparent while cornering, as the GLC 43 doesn’t change direction with composure.
Still, it’s the best-handling GLC, and is definitely more composed than you’d expect given its bulk. It’s just not that much fun to drive quickly. This is a car that’s best on motorways and A-roads with long, flowing turns.
It seems unlikely that most buyers will be buying the GLC 43 primarily to dive quickly on a B-road, though, and the car’s main talents are targeted where it really matters. The interior is superb, with a stylish and upmarket-looking design, comfortable seats and plenty of tech.
The driver’s seat feels cosy, with the dash and centre console designed to wrap around you, the rear seats have plenty of legroom and there’s a big 550-litre boot. It’s just as quite good at being a family car as a standard GLC as a result of those upgrades to make the most of the extra performance.
If family motoring is your plan for the car, a GLC 350d could be a better pick. It’s nearly as fast, with a 0-62mph time of 6.2 seconds, and has more torque (620Nm) too. Crucially, it’s also cheaper to buy and manages 47.9mpg, compared to this GLC 43’s 34mpg. CO2 emissions of 159g/km mean it’s more affordable to tax than the 189g/km 43 as well.