by Karl Furlong
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe is a bit like ordering a side salad with your supersized cheeseburger and fries meal. You may kid yourself into thinking you've made a slightly more sensible decision than going for the full-fat GLC 63 Coupe, but the end result still doesn't make much sense. This coupe-SUV is still less practical and more expensive than the regular GLC 43 SUV, is still branded as a coupe without really being a coupe at all, and it'll earn you more unimpressed glares than you'd get in a C43 sedan. Fortunately, many vehicles that are derided by the brain can still win over the heart. In that respect, the GLC 43 Coupe is a lovely thing. Its 385-horsepower twin-turbo V6 will see off the 0-60 mph sprint in under five seconds, it's surprisingly agile, and the cabin feels both high-tech and luxurious. Competitors in the USA like the BMW X4 M40i are equally talented, but the Mercedes should be near to the top of your list if this is the sort of vehicle you're after.
For 2021, the GLC 43 Coupe receives an enhanced specification. Mercedes has added a surround-view camera system, rear cross-traffic alert, and Parktronic with active parking assistance as standard. Cirrus Silver becomes available as a new color choice, while hands-free access, parking damage detection, and a dash cam can be specced as standalone options.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG GLC 43 4MATIC Coupe||
3.0L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
No matter how many sporty add-ons it has, there are some people who will simply never warm to the idea of a coupe-SUV body style. The 2021 AMG GLC 43 Coupe is a decent take on the concept, though. The links to the regular GLC 43 SUV are obvious, such as the Panamericana grille and the shape of the LED headlights. AMG's body styling adds a deeper front air dam, flared side sills, and aggressive 20-inch AMG Y five-spoke alloy wheels. Like the bigger GLE Coupe, the sloping roofline is what sets this vehicle apart from the boxier GLC. At the back, there is a round quad-exit exhaust arrangement and LED taillamps. A power sunroof with tilt and sliding functions is standard.
Similar in size to the BMW X4, another coupe-style SUV for sale in this segment, the AMG GLC 43 Coupe's exterior dimensions include a 187-inch length, a wheelbase of 113.1 inches, and a height of 62.4 inches. Including the side mirrors, the width is 82.5 inches, dropping to 74.9 inches without the mirrors. The SUV's curb weight works out to 4,235 pounds.
It wasn't long ago that an AMG-badged Mercedes with a claimed 0-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds would be the most powerful in the lineup. That's no longer the case as the GLC 43 Coupe sits below the V8-powered GLC 63 that we review separately. The 43 comes with an AMG-enhanced 3.0-liter V6 bi-turbo engine; the headline specs are 385 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to all four corners thanks to the AMG Performance 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, while an AMG nine-speed automatic transmission is used.
Capable of a limited top speed of 130 mph, the GLC 43 will reach that velocity with remarkable ease. Around town, it's quick enough to get you into trouble but not as intimidating or as much of an attack on the senses as the GLC 63. This will please buyers who appreciate potent performance without the drama. It's also an adept highway cruiser, while the gearbox is quick to downshift when executing overtaking maneuvers. As good as the GLC 43 is, though, the BMW X4 M40i is not only cheaper but can reach 60 in a quicker 4.4 seconds.
From a practical perspective, the GLC 43 can tow 3,500 lbs.
Equipped with AMG's 4Matic AWD system, the grippy GLC 43 has a 31:69 torque split for optimal balance under hard acceleration and when powering out of corners. The driver can also tailor the driving experience via the AMG Dynamic Select controller offering Slippery, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ modes. These settings influence characteristics like the gearbox's shift points and the parameters of the adaptive air suspension.
These systems work together to deliver a genuine dual personality. When cruising in Comfort mode or pottering around town, the steering is appropriately light and the SUV does a great job of soaking up bumps, even if it's never as pillowy as an E-Class. In the sportier driving modes, the steering's weighting is increased and the GLC surprises with excellent body control. The AMG Sport Braking system is up for the job when you need to rein in the powerful SUV and feature 14.2-inch perforated front rotors.
The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe is not quite as efficient as its primary rival, the BMW X4 M40i. Whereas the Bimmer returns EPA-rated gas mileage figures of 21/27/23 mpg city/highway/combined, the Merc will only manage 17/24/20 mpg. The GLC has a 17.4-gallon gas tank so will be able to attain a range of around 348 miles between visits to the gas station.
Let's start with the bad news. Even though this isn't a very small SUV, that sloping roofline cuts into rear headroom and, although the spec sheet says that the four-door GLC Coupe only lags behind the regular GLC SUV by 0.2 inches in this area, the sensation in the back seat is rather claustrophobic. The broad transmission tunnel also limits foot space for a third occupant seated in the middle back seat. Things are better in front, where both leg- and headroom are adequate. As for the seats themselves, they're supportive and finished in a mix of MB-Tex and Dinamica upholstery. Both front seats are heated and come with three memory settings. Genuine leather upholstery is available and opting for one of the brighter colors goes some way to making the cabin feel airier.
In our GLC 43 crossover review, one of the few blemishes we found was a rather small cargo area. Behind its second row, the GLC 43 Coupe offers 17.6 cubic feet of space. This lags behind the 23.7 cubes offered by its BMW rival, although the GLC 43 Coupe actually matches the GLC 43 SUV in this aspect. There's enough room for around six carry-ons, but it's hardly what you'd call generous for a fairly large crossover. For bigger items, the rear seats fold in a 40/20/40 split, and buttons in the cargo area mean that folding the seats need not be a strenuous affair. Lowering the back seats will free up a rather limited 36.1 cubes of space.
Mercedes has added a few small extras like front seatback map pockets and parcel nets in the trunk for securing smaller items. There is another netted storage space in the front passenger footwell and a center console storage bin, along with door pockets and cupholders. That being said, it isn't the best SUV for small-item storage.
As it sits just below the GLC 63, the GLC 43 is generously equipped. Both front seats are power-adjustable, including four-way power lumbar support, and have heating and memory functions. A dual-zone automatic climate control system keeps everyone comfortable, while a 64-color LED ambient lighting system looks especially snazzy at night. For the driver's convenience, the GLC offers a power liftgate, remote start, power-folding side mirrors, keyless go, and a garage door opener. The list of safety items includes attention assist, blind-spot assist with exit warning, a surround-view camera system, rear cross-traffic alert, and active parking assistance. There are loads of available extras like evasive steering assist, adaptive cruise control, three-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and heated rear seats.
The Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) system provides the foundation for controlling the GLC's many infotainment functions. Along with an optional 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, there is a standard 10.25-inch central color touchscreen. The driver can use either touch control buttons on the steering wheel or a touchpad controller to navigate various features. As with many of these modern infotainment systems, it takes some time to get familiar with all the functions and menus. It's a feature-packed offering, though, as the GLC 43 Coupe comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth audio streaming, voice control, SiriusXM radio, and HD Radio. It's also possible to plug in your devices via the dual USB-C audio ports. Although there is a standard FrontBass sound system, a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system is optional. Customers can also specify a Wi-Fi hotspot, wireless charging, navigation, and MBUX augmented video for the navigation system.
An overall J.D. Power rating of 80 out of a possible 100 is good, and although the non-AMG GLC-Coupe was recalled many times last year, not all of these issues have affected the GLC 43. However, a damaged power steering control unit wiring harness was one of them. If anything does go wrong, Mercedes offers a four-year/50,000-mile limited warranty and the same coverage for the powertrain.
The 2021 GLC-Coupe has not been specifically tested by the IIHS nor the NHTSA, although the IIHS did evaluate the GLC SUV on which the coupe is based. Last year, the GLC was a recipient of the agency's Top Safety Pick award, with a spread of Good crashworthiness scores.
There are numerous safety systems in place to protect occupants in the event of an accident, as well as technologies to prevent a collision from occurring in the first place. A total of seven airbags are dotted around the cabin, including a driver's knee airbag and side curtain airbags for all outboard seating positions. The 4-door GLC 43 also boasts electronic stability control, traction control, rain-sensing windshield wipers, tire-pressure monitoring, and the pre-safe accident detection system. Added to these features are attention assist, crosswind assist, a surround-view camera system, front/rear parking sensors, parking assistance, blind-spot assist with exit warning, and rear cross-traffic alert.
Available options include a dashcam, adaptive cruise control, rear side airbags, congestion emergency braking, active lane change assist, adaptive high beams, evasive steering assist, and a head-up display.
At over $10,000 less than the V8-powered model, the GLC 43 Coupe provides an attractive middle ground between that version and the four-cylinder GLC 300 Coupe. The V6 has a character of its own and, with a well-balanced chassis, the GLC 43 Coupe doesn't do much wrong as a piece of engineering. It's fast and entertaining when you want it to be, and has the butch SUV look that so many customers find appealing. It's just not the best option for ferrying rear-seat passengers or lots of luggage and you'll need to be careful with the options so as to not encroach on the price of the GLC 63. Other highlights include the luxurious cabin and many advanced safety features. The GLC 43 SUV is a more logical proposition, but unless you must have the extra space, this does much the same job with an extra serving of style.
The new AMG GLC 43 Coupe carries a base MSRP of $64,900 in the US, excluding tax, licensing, registration, and a destination charge of $1,050. When fully loaded with options, the AMG GLC 43 Coupe carries a price of over $85,000.
As there is just a single trim to choose from, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe can only be customized by opting for one of the available packages or standalone options. Among the extras, we'd be tempted by the $1,700 Driver Assistance Package that adds adaptive cruise control, active blind-spot assist, congestion emergency braking, route-based speed control, and a lot more. We also like the digital driver's display ($750), the AMG head-up display ($1,100), and wireless charging ($200). Other than a choice of leather and exterior color, we wouldn't add much more than this as the price inches uncomfortably close to the GLC 63 Coupe.
Within the X4 lineup, the GLC 43 Coupe's closest competitor is the M40i. Like the Merc, the M40i has a turbocharged six-cylinder engine. Although the M40i has marginally less power, less torque, and is the heavier vehicle, it's actually faster to 60 mph by three tenths. Not only that, but the BMW can attain three mpg more in a mix of city and highway driving. In the cabin, the Mercedes turns up the style compared with the more conservative BMW, but both are well-built. The Merc has more rear legroom but the BMW has a bigger trunk. In the M40i, you get wireless charging, a digital gauge cluster, and three-zone climate control as standard, all of which are options for the pricier GLC 43. Overall, the X4 M40i makes a stronger case for itself, but the margins between the two are narrow.
Price-wise, the GLC 43 Coupe falls between the Macan S and Macan GTS, but the AMG is more powerful than both. With the Sport Chrono Package, the Macan GTS is two-tenths quicker to 60 mph. As good as the Merc is to drive, the Macan has an even sweeter chassis, although the steering can be accused of being a touch too light. Neither SUV has an especially spacious cabin and at 17.6 cubes each, both trunks are on the small side in this segment. Mercedes offers more equipment as standard; for instance, a surround-view camera system is $1,200 on its own for the Macan. Keen drivers should consider the Porsche, but the GLC 43 Coupe has a greater sense of luxury and more presence. This closely-fought battle will require a back-to-back test drive.
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