I still laugh with glee at Looney Tunes vignettes, especially those with the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. How do you stifle a snort when the mangy Coyote paints a stunningly accurate painting of a tunnel into a rock wall, which the Road Runner can run through, but the hungry mammal can’t? Or when his infatuation with catching the bird results in the most nonsensical, obscure gadgets from the ACME corporation?
Engine: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8
Output: 503 hp, 516 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 9-Speed MCT Automatic
0-62 MPH (100 km/h): 3.8 seconds
Fuel Economy: TBD
It seems that the most fun is had when the rules are broken and we see something that shouldn’t be possible. Our brains seem to short circuit and the result is this “Hah!” noise. This is the magic of cartoons and slapstick, but it’s also what makes the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S so amusing — this car is so hilariously unbelievable that it’s like my favorite Looney Tunes sketches.
The SUV snarls and barks like a guard dog, but is comfortable and spacious enough to pack a Great Dane. It has the size and proportions of something more utilitarian but also straight-line speed that can embarrass some serious sports cars. It’s loaded with luxury features like heated seats and a head-up display, but can also be available with a performance exhaust and a Race mode that maximizes performance with a higher idle to allow for a quick jump off the line. You might be inclined to ask, “What’s up, Doc?” but the answer is simple: This car is made of a bunch of contrasting factors that weirdly work together really well.
One Man, One Machine, Few are Faster
Under the hood lurks a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine that’s built by hand using AMG’s one man (or woman), one machine philosophy. It makes 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, just enough to allow a zero-to-62-mph sprint of 3.8 seconds. In the great hierarchy of zero-to-60 times, anything under four seconds is placed well into the “holy crap that’s fast” tier alongside the likes of Porsche 911 Turbos and Chevrolet Corvettes. Consider the size of this SUV and it’s amazing what Mercedes-AMG is capable of.
The engine is a truly special part of the equation. The plant in Affalterbach, Germany, is where the engine is made and, as the brand’s philosophy suggests, each engine is made by one person. Fifty years ago, the goofballs at AMG threw a 6.8-liter V8 engine in an SEL sedan and said it should go racing. That car then came first in class and second overall at the 24-hour endurance race of Spa Francorchamps and everyone laughed like Bugs Bunny when he embarrasses Elmer Fudd by plugging the barrels of the hunter’s shotgun with his fingers. Nowadays, AMG is a car development center set to the beat of Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. It’s not only where new motors are being built, but it’s also where Mercedes-Benz cars are designed to be more impressive and hardcore.
New AWD System
But back to the GLC 63, which has a new all-wheel-drive system that helps the SUV perform as impressively as it does. We first saw this 4Matic+ system on the recently released E 63 S. Unlike other AWD AMGs, this system can send 100 percent of the motor’s torque to the rear wheels, meaning the car can seamlessly transition from rear- to all-wheel drive depending on the situation. There’s also an electronic rear limited slip differential that helps the car put its power to the ground through corners. This car is designed to be as fast as possible in almost every situation imaginable.
The nine-speed automatic transmission is the translator between the motor and the all-wheel-drive system, and it changes gears quickly. Using a wet-clutch rather than a torque converter, the transmission is designed to be a quick-shifter and also saves weight. In practice, however, it was a bit jerky and unrefined, almost leaving me stuttering like Porky the Pig. Others on our first drive program reported this issue, while some found the transmission to be fine. We’ll chalk this up to early production jitters, but it’s something worth checking out when the car hits showrooms in the spring.
The star power of any AMG model is the performance characteristics, and the GLC will not disappoint in terms of straight-line speed. Handling is also impressive, but the steering felt a bit numb and disconnected. A speed-sensitive setup, there were several times where I found myself feeling out the steering to figure out just how much grip the front wheels had. The brakes, on the other hand, worked better than I would have expected, with excellent pedal feel and stopping distances. It felt natural and well controlled, and I imagine it could put ripples in the pavement like when a cartoon character screeches to a halt.
Sound and Style
There’s more to this AMG than its performance figures, as the interior gets a number of unique elements that make it stand out from the more conventional GLC models. There’s a lot of carbon-fiber trim paired with suede accents alongside well-stitched leather upholstery. I’ve always been a fan of the GLC’s interior layout, with a wood-heavy, nautically inspired dashboard that’s outfitted with cool steampunk toggle switches. The only criticism of the car’s interior is that the COMAND infotainment system is beginning to look a little dated. Maybe I’m just not a fan of the rotary knob controls, but I’d love to see a more modern interface with quicker access to main settings.
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The exterior design of the GLC has been updated to reflect the crossover’s increased performance. There’s a new “panamerica grille,” so the front end looks similar to the flagship AMG GT sports car. This vehicle is also available as a “Coupe,” which is a slight bit of marketing gobbledygook, as it’s still a four-door crossover except with a sloping rear roofline.
Then there are the quad trapezoidal exhaust exits, which emit some of the most engaging and emotion-invoking noises known to modern automobiles. It’s like a mechanical iteration of the Tasmanian Devil. You’ll crack a smile when firing up this car and that smile will turn into a maniacal laugh when you hear it at full throttle. If the sounds of this car don’t stir you up, you are dead inside (or maybe this car’s just not for you, so you might want to consider a Toyota RAV4 Hybrid).
The Verdict: 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4MATIC+ Review
This car is a comedy on wheels. It’s joyous, hilarious and tear-jerkingly good fun. With so much performance, power and capability found in a body style that doesn’t have the reputation for it, the car is a cartoon on the road, doing things that will make you do a double-take before snorting in half-disbelief and half-laugh. I liked it nearly as much as the flagship GT R Coupe I drove a few weeks ago, and that alone is serious praise for Mercedes-AMG’s new utility vehicle. While pricing is yet to be revealed, you can expect it to be a bit more expensive than the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S that the GLC is loosely based on. It’s every bit as fun as any AMG out there, but with the added benefit of being a versatile and luxurious utility vehicle.
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