How did we manage to get by before the advent of compact luxury crossover performance SUVs? What did we drive that offered lots of interior and cargo space, but also had a luxurious interior, excellent handling, and a solid safety record? Who knows, and besides, we have cars such as the GLC, BMW X3, and Audi Q5, that do everything every other car does, but in one package. Uniformity is so hot right now. So what makes the GLC43 so special? Well, it's seriously fast, seriously luxurious, and seriously safe, and can do pretty much everything other than taking on an off-road trail. So for those who spend most of their time in town, something like this must look mighty attractive. We think the GLC43 is a competent performance car, family SUV and luxury vehicle all wrapped into one, so read on if you want to know why it's so good at doing it all.
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 received quite the makeover for 2020, starting with the exterior, which gets a redesigned headlight setup, and slim-line AMG-only grille. The front apron accentuated side sill panels, and aerodynamically optimized AMG light-alloy wheels give the GLC a sharpened look. Inside the cabin, the latest version of the MBUX infotainment system gets AMG-specific functions, and you also get an AMG steering wheel in DINAMICA microfibre and Mercedes-AMG's emotion start system. Under the hood, the GLC's 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 gets a power boost to 385 horsepower, 23 more than the previous year model.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG GLC 43 4MATIC SUV||
3.0L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
Sure it can go really, really fast in a straight line, faster than most in fact, but how does it handle a few twists and turns? Well, depending on your mood, or climatic influences, you can select between five different driving modes, all tuned to sharpen or relax throttle and transmission response, sharpen or soften the adaptive suspension, and stiffen or lighten the steering. These modes are simply named Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual. For such a relatively large car, the GLC43 handles with exceptional poise and stability. The well-weighted steering, especially when set to Sport mode, offers pinpoint precision, but as with its contemporaries, it doesn't give much in the way of feedback. The rear-biased 4MATIC AWD system helps the GLC pull hard out of corners, and the adaptive suspension, based on the Mercedes-Benz Air Body Control system is easy to set up for the task at hand. All in all, you don't feel like you're actually driving an SUV, which is a good thing, except in the comfort stakes where the ride can be a bit lumpy.
The fact that there are a whole class of compact luxury performance crossover SUVs is by itself a strange phenomenon, but if there's a gap in the market, you'd better fill it before the competition, right? Well, Mercedes-AMG has overfilled that gap with the powerful thrust of a twin-turbocharged V6. The 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 receives a makeover for 2020, which turns an already handsome car into an SUV that manages to look muscular and understated at the same time, something we like very much. The turbocharged six under the hood also gets a small power jump to 385 hp, which allows the GLC43 to out-accelerate its competition during independent testing, and we love its brutish nature and middle-of-the-ground power balance when compared to the insane GLC 63. On the road, the adaptive suspension is beautifully balanced and makes the GLC feel nimble beyond the realm of SUVs. The exterior of the GLC 43 looks aggressive enough, but at the end of the day, it really is just another crossover SUV-looking thing. The interior is beautifully crafted and packed with tech, and the options list is dauntingly extensive, and you're sure paying for that three-pointed star, but even in its most basic form is better than most of the competition, and compared to the coupe version, offers a lot more space. The GLC43 goes up against the likes of the Audi SQ5 and BMW X3 M40i, but we'd have the three-pointed star any time of the day.
As if the GLC43 wasn't quick enough, Mercedes-AMG thought it well to fit their compact crossover GLC with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 that produces 469 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque. Independent testing has seen this nuclear sleeper reach sixty in under four seconds; that's supercar fast. All of that performance hurts fuel economy, however, and the EPA rates the GLC63 will manage around 16/22/18 mpg city/highway/combined. The GLC63 weighs a good few hundred pounds more, but still retains the excellent balance of the GLC43, although it rides a bit harder over the slow stuff. Out on the road, the GLC feels lightyears faster than the 43, and one has to take care not to get into too much trouble, as triple digits are reached in the blink of an eye. Inside, the GLC offers the same beautifully crafted interior and massive options list. At $73,750, the GLC is perfect for those who want to stun Corvette owners, but we'd be perfectly happy with the GLC43.
BMW's X3 has been a popular choice in the compact luxury crossover market since its launch back in 2003 and has grown from strength to strength into what is now a supremely capable and luxurious SUV, and in M40i guise, it will blow the doors off many lesser performance cars. This BMW is powered by a 3.0-liter BMW TwinPower turbo inline-six motor that produces 382 hp and will get to sixty in an astonishing 4.4 seconds; that's half a second faster than the GLC43's official time. The BMW is exceptionally agile on the road and will grip on for dear life, no matter what speed you enter a corner at. The exterior styling looks nice and brawny, and inside this Bimmer shows off with a futuristic interior design and lots of passenger and interior space. The iDrive infotainment system is better than the system you get in the GLC43. What we don't like is the X3's stiff suspension setup, heavy steering and road noise at higher speeds. The BMW is a more explicit car and should find favor with humans who like to make a noise.