REVIEW | The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 is loud and proud
The high-performance, medium-sized car category comprising the Audi RS4 Avant, the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-AMG C63 is still alive and well.
But the idea has long spilt over to the sport-utility vehicle realm too. You can have medium-sized brutes such as the BMW X3 M or Mercedes-AMG GLC 63. Audi is yet to make an RS Q5, but its imminence could be bet on.
The specimen wearing the three-pointed star is what we are discussing today. We recently spent a spirited 24 hours with the model, which was updated in the middle of 2019 and first launched in 2017.
In addition to the regular body format, a sleeker coupé variant is available too — as in the case of our test unit. And we should not neglect to mention the 4MATIC+ part of its title, denoting four-wheel drive.
The presence and personality of the model is undeniable. It benefits from the same styling enhancements availed to the standard GLC-Class, such as new headlamps and tail lights, but also boasts AMG-specific accoutrements.
That includes the toothy-looking grille, with its vertical black louvres and if you opt for the more potent S-model, the volume is turned up even further. This is thanks to 20-inch alloys and inserts in iridium silver, among a comprehensive list of other swagger-bolstering trinkets.
But the real party piece is its power source. Oh yes, the twin-turbocharged V8 with its 4.0-litre displacement is a true powerhouse, having earned stripes in a number of Mercedes-AMG models, including the GT family.
In this application it serves up 350kW and 650Nm or 375kW and 700Nm in the S. The latter gets from standstill to 100km/h in as little as 3.8 seconds, charging furiously down the asphalt on to a (governed) top speed of 280km/h.
What is also endearing about the engine is the expectedly truculent noise it makes, replete with a button on the centre console that amplifies the battle cry from the exhaust. The GLC 63 burbles and brews angrily around town, breaking out into a full-on roar when the right pedal is mashed. The launch control function feels especially brutal. A nine-speed automatic transmission is on duty.
It might be a stretch to say that the vehicle is capable of fully settling down into docility. Even though there is a meek Comfort driving setting, occupants are ever aware that this is a fire-breathing brute rolling on huge alloys and underpinned by track-inspired suspension. Which poses the inevitable question: would the equivalent lower and lighter C63 be the smarter option? Obvious answer — but the appeal of this breed is that it allows buyers to have the best of two worlds. Or the illusion of such an idea anyway.
Pricing for the GLC 63 S 4MATIC+ starts at R1,938,000 while the S coupé version we drove comes in at R2,119,000 before options.