Why would I buy it?
For its unique appearance and fabulous engine
Why would I avoid it?
Not adequately tech-laden for its price and ride isn't the most comfortable
What is it?
SUVs have caught everybody’s fancy these days thanks to their high driving position and immense road presence. But even amongst them is a niche group who not only want their high riders to look sporty, but also have the necessary performance to put sport cars to shame. And Mercedes-Benz has come out with just such a product and it’s called the GLC 43 AMG Coupe.
Now it might not be to everyone’s liking, but to my eyes the GLC Coupe has struck the right balance between looking unique while not seeming out of proportion when viewed from most angles. The diamond grille and chiseled front bumper add flair, but it’s the Affalterbach alloy wheels that stand out and give the car a sporty presence. On the other hand, it’s from the rear that this coupe-SUV looks really alluring as the sloping roofline ends in a bulging spoiler and tailgate with striking LED tail lamps. It gives the car a very sporty stance.
Mercedes-Benz hasn't affected many updates to the vehicle’s interiors, inherited from the GLC SUV. That said, it's still not dull to look at. In fact, the black interiors with red accents look more interesting than the beige cabin in the standard car. It still remains a well-built cabin and, of course, looks and feels luxurious too. Despite the sloping roofline, the GLC Coupe remains a comfortable four-seater, with adequate headroom even for six footers. On the downside, the tapering roof affects rearward visibility, as the C pillars are thick and rear glass is tiny. Front visibility is good, but again the thick A-pillar obstructs view especially in corners or at busy junctions.
Even so, we like the cabin overall for being airy with exceptional fit and finish. There’s lots of leather, stowage places and it gets a fair selection of cup and bottle holders too. Equipment wise it’s a bit of a mixed bag. You don’t get stuff like keyless-go, a touch screen system and auto parking function which has become a norm even in cars that costs half as much. Other than these, you get a car that is fairly loaded with kit like a sweet sounding Burmester music system, electric front seats with memory function, automatic LED headlamps and wipers, mood lighting and a sunroof. Furthermore, there’s cruise control with speed limiter and a 360 camera with proximity sensors front and back. On the safety front, the vehicle gets seven airbags, ABS and ESP among others.
Now let’s come to the bit that is important! – does it justify the AMG badge? On paper, it has lot of potential as it comes powered by a 3.0-litre V6 bi-turbo petrol mill under the hood that produces a healthy 367bhp and a humongous 520Nm of torque. The snarly exhaust note keeps reminding you of the car’s racy nature. It isn’t as loud as a V8, but it’s still good enough to paste a smile on your face. And, for a car that weighs in excess of 1.8 tonnes, this V6 engine easily pushes the tachometer needle from idle to near redline(6,500rpm) without a hiccup. In our acceleration tests, the GLC43 AMG hit 100kmph from standstill in just under 5 seconds.
The throttle response is impressive whichever mode you are in. The car feels quick even in the Comfort mode, while it gets dramatic in the Sport+ mode. The instantaneous power delivery in the latter mode makes it feel a bit jerky though. So we stuck to the sport mode for some spirited driving. And boy, we were not let down. The nine-speed transmission that flows power through all wheels is one gem of a gearbox. Its super quick and smooth while changing gears on its own, or even when you use paddle shifters. It’s only in the eco and comfort mode that you will feel a tiny bit of hesitation as you depress the pedal.
Even the handling is good enough to back this impressive motor. The steering feels nicely weighted at high speeds, but a tad over-assisted at low speeds. Nonetheless, sport and sport+ modes reward with a sharper steering response. Also, less than two and a half turn lock-to-lock means the steering feels effortless, whether it be while parking this big SUV effortlessly or while carving up a mountain road. Even the 4WD is well calibrated and instead of giving lot of understeer, more power is sent to the rear wheels, thus making it feel as neutral as possible. It’s not perfect though. Despite Mercedes trying hard, it feels heavy when pushed hard into corners and it struggles in quick directional changes. Its brakes felt adequate, but more stopping power would have been welcome considering this SUVs pace.
Now, on to the suspension set-up. Despite the air springs all around, the ride on this GLC43 isn’t very comfortable. Being an AMG, it’s on the stiff end of the stick. Sure, it feels stable and has a flat ride, but at the same time suspension is noisy and not all that comfortable for an everyday drive. Of course, it manages to iron out the bumps and smaller potholes, yet it's not the happiest taking on sharp edged ones.
The GLC 43 AMG Coupe impresses not only in terms of its styling, but also because of its engine and driving characteristics. Still, with at an ex-showroom price of Rs 77.42 lakhs, it comes across as an expensive proposition. Especially, when other cars in this price bracket are more tech-laden. Also, despite being spacious, it doesn’t make for a very comfortable ride. However, if you are looking to buy something that looks a little different, is powerful, fast and drives well, the GLC 43 AMG is worth considering. And if you want that right mix of sportiness combined with ruggedness and utility, then the GLC 43 Coupe should be on your shortlist.