by Gerhard Horn
If the boisterous bark of the 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 Coupe's twin-turbo V8 doesn't make you feel unique enough, why not pay extra and have some of the rear headroom removed? We jest, of course, but the SUV-coupe market is big business. BMW pioneered the segment, but has Mercedes-AMG perfected it?
The AMG-badged GLC Coupe is available in both 63 and 63 S guise, which means that the twin-turbo V8 produces either 469 or 503 horsepower. The power is sent to the tarmac via a nine-speed AMG Speedshift automatic and a 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. It's no wonder the GLC 63 S AMG held the fastest SUV record around the Nurburgring for a while. Mercedes-AMG didn't just perfect the segment. It set it on fire. And in a segment that also plays host to competitors including the BMW X4 M, Porsche Macan, and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, that's high praise.
The 2020 derivative received a host of new features, so the upgrades for the 2021 AMG GLC 63 Coupe are unspectacular. Cirrus Silver joins the color palette, and a surround-view camera system is now standard along with Parktronic with active parking assist and rear cross-traffic alert. Customers can optionally spec a dash cam, parking damage detection, and hands-free access.
The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 coupe-cum-crossover doesn't try to hide the vast amounts of power at its disposal. The slatted Panamericana grille and large air intakes let you know that there's something special living under the hood. 20-inch alloys are standard, and the S comes with a diffuser fin and strip finished in Iridium Silver. As per usual, quad exhausts are standard and both models come with a power tilt/slide sunroof. We're not convinced this is Mercedes' most successful four-door coupe-SUV design, but it does at least have an exterior that stands out in a crowd.
The GLC Coupe is 186.9 inches long with a 113.1-inch wheelbase. It's 76 inches wide excluding mirrors and 62.4 inches tall. The GLC 300 Coupe is only 74.9 inches wide, so the 63's track is noticeably wider than the standard car. It's also 2.1 inches lower to the ground. The wider track and a lower center of gravity improve the handling, but overall dimensions remain similar. The ordinary 63 weighs 4,579 pounds, while the S weighs 4,586 lbs.
The 2021 GLC 63 Coupe doesn't have a direct rival as far as cylinder count is concerned, unless you count the more conventionally-shaped Jaguar F-Pace SVR as one of the only other V8-powered SUVs in this size category. Its twin-turbo 4.0-liter V8 is a unique selling point in this segment. The engine is available in two power outputs. The 63 develops 469 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque, while the S offers diabolical specs that read 503 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. Both models are equipped with AMG's nine-speed Speedshift transmission.
Both models sprint from 0-60 mph in less than four seconds, thanks to their power and all-wheel-drive traction. There are various driving modes to choose from, but the engine feels overly eager in all of them. It takes just 3.8 seconds for the GLC 63 to hit 60, whereas the S variant does the same in a mere 3.6. The V8's grumble is intensely addictive, and you'll likely be chasing the rev limiter at every opportunity. Good for the ears, bad for speeding tickets. On that note, the standard 63 will hit an electronically limited 155 mph, while the S lifts the limiter to a ludicrous top speed of 174 mph, well beyond the legal limit in the USA.
SUVs historically have never felt as stable as their sedan counterparts, but these days are gone. The GLC 63 has an electronically locking differential on the rear axle, dramatically reducing slip through a corner. The 4Matic AWD system seamlessly transfers power between the axles, resulting in a surefooted feel on all surfaces. It feels wonderfully tactile in Sport and Sport + modes, but once you switch it to Comfort, it becomes a docile cruiser. We're not talking standard GLC levels of comfort, but soft enough to not be annoying. The V8 is also more muted, but every once in a while, you'll hear it grumble and growl as you pass slower traffic.
The EPA estimates for both the 63 and 63 S are the same in the US. It's claimed to deliver mileage of 15/22/17 mpg city/highway/combined. That should get you around 295.8 miles from the 17.4-gallon tank. Not great, but not half bad when you compare it to its six-cylinder rivals. The BMW X4 M twins have EPA estimates of 14/19/16 mpg, while the 17/21/19 mpg is claimed for the Porsche Macan Turbo.
Mercedes says the GLC is still a full five-seater, with the sloping roofline having a minimal effect on interior space and the 4-door configuration sort of discounting it as a genuine coupe. The front legroom is 40.8 inches, shrinking to 37.2 inches in the rear. The front headroom is still a generous 38.9 inches, while the rear headroom remains impressive at 38.3 inches. That's still adequate space for average-sized adults to be comfortable. The rear windows are on the small side for an SUV, but the well-appointed interior won't make you want to look out of them anyway. The 63 S gets a full leather interior while the 63 makes do with MB-Tex/Dinamica in standard form.
The designers at Mercedes can be proud that the GLC loses no cargo capacity compared to the regular SUV. It still provides a reasonable 17.6 cubic feet. It's not spectacular, but good enough for the daily grind or a weekend away. The Coupe has a higher load lip, but the rear suspension can be lowered by 1.6-inches to make loading things easier. The GLC's rear seats fold down in a 60/40 split, resulting in 36.1 cubic feet of space. This is where you start to notice the sacrifices you make by opting for the coupe, as the standard SUV offers 40.6 cubes.
The interior storage spaces include a bin under the center armrest, sizeable door pockets, dual cupholders for the rear seats, and pockets on the front seatbacks.
As the most expensive models in the GLC Coupe range, the 63 twins come with power adjustment, heating, and memory functions for the front seats. Other luxuries include dual-zone climate control, a power liftgate, keyless entry with push-button start, a surround-view camera system, and automatic suspension lowering for easy cargo loading.
A slew of driver assistance systems are also available, including standard attention assist, crosswind assist, and Parktronic with active parking assistance. The options list unlocks adaptive headlights, evasive steering assist, adaptive cruise control, and more, but for much more money. On the luxury front, available tri-zone climate control, ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats are all in the cards.
Both models are equipped with Mercedes' MBUX infotainment system. It includes a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen interface. The system comes with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, SiriusXM, HD Radio, and Bluetooth audio streaming. The most impressive feature is the voice control with artificial intelligence. You need only say the words, "Hey Mercedes, I'm feeling cold," and the car will increase the temperature. Both models have a 13-speaker Burmester surround-sound system as standard. Navigation is standard and you also get Merc's augmented video to make getting to your destination even easier. As high-performance SUVs, both come with a dedicated AMG menu with a racetimer, while the 63 S gets AMG Track Pace which allows you to store and access performance data.
The 2021 GLC 63 S Coupe received 80 out of a possible 100 points in the J.D. Power customer survey. It scored great in every category, apart from quality/reliability and resale, where it was rated as average.
In terms of recalls, the GLC 63 Coupe has not had an easy life so far. It was recalled a few times in 2019. The problems ranged from an incorrectly installed starter power supply cable to the Pre-Safe system not recognizing when seatbelts are latched, as well as an incorrect display showing the passenger airbag status. The 2020 model's recalls included one for a damaged power steering control unit's wiring harness resulting in a loss of power steering and an incorrectly programmed electronic stability control system. That's not something you want on a 503-hp car.
In 2021, it was recalled again for possible inaccurate vehicle location for emergency services.
The GLC Coupe models have not yet been rated separately from their SUV counterparts. Luckily, the SUV the GLC Coupe is based on scored well. The 2021 non-AMG GLC received the full five-star review from the NHTSA. The only category where it didn't score full marks was the rollover crash, where it scored four stars. For 2021, the IIHS only rated the GLC's head restraints and seats, giving these a "good" rating. It was thoroughly tested in 2020, and it received a Top Safety Pick rating.
The question is instead whether you should buy a coupe-style SUV over the standard SUV. To our eyes, the SUV looks a lot better, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's also worth mentioning that the SUV is only available in 63 guise, and not the full-fat 63 S. If you want the full 503 horses, you'll have to get the coupe.
The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 Coupe is a thrilling car. It sounds magnificent, is stupidly fast for what it is, and it has an old-school charm. Its rivals may be more advanced, offering six-cylinder engines with nearly as much power, but the GLC 63 has that X-factor that you can't quite explain. Perhaps it's because this will likely be the last generation of models that use the tried and trusted AMG method of putting a stupidly large engine in a small body? The BMW X4 M and Porsche Macan Turbo may be more scalpel-like, but the GLC 63 coupe brings more than 4,000 lbs of V8 fun to the party. If that's what you seek, go for it.
The standard price of the new Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 Coupe starts at an MSRP of $76,900 while the 63 S retails for $84,500. This does not include the destination charge of $1,050, and it also excludes tax, licensing, and registration costs. By comparison, the BMW X4 M starts off at a slightly more affordable $73,900.
Based on the considerable $7,600 price difference between the GLC 63 Coupe and the 63 S, it's easy to make a case for the former. It's more affordable yet nearly as quick, so much so that in the real world, you'd battle to tell the two apart. The problem is that you'll always know that yours is not the best. There's still going to be a better, faster GLC Coupe out there. If you're going to buy an extrovert car like this, go the whole nine yards and get the most expensive model of the GLC 63 Coupe. The S model does give you more equipment as standard, such as the AMG Track Pace and Nappa leather upholstery, so you can at least make a logical argument for it as well.
The X4 was the first BMW to be equipped with the new six-cylinder engine found in the all-new BMW M3/4. It's an epic engineering feat, boasting up to 503 hp in Competition spec. It also has all-wheel drive and a trick differential. The X4 also matches the GLC's generous standard specification. On paper, they're hard to separate, but the BMW has a problem. If you're going to buy a performance SUV coupe, you want the best there is, which is the 503-hp Competition model. Unlike the GLC 63, the BMW's suspension setup can't do comfort. Even in its softest setting, it crashes over the smallest bumps. It's so stiff that we wouldn't be able to live with it daily. For that reason, and the fact that the GLC 63 Coupe is a more vibrant machine, we'd have the Mercedes.
The Macan has proved to be a successful model for Porsche, offering a hyper-hatch-like driving experience. Porsche proved that it could instill its DNA into a large SUV with the Cayenne, and with the Macan, it reached peak performance SUV. The recent addition of a 434-hp twin-turbo 2.9-liter V6 has elevated the Porsche into the realm of the GLC 63 Coupe. It may be down on grunt, but the Porsche's performance figures of 4.1 seconds are nearly there, if you pay Porsche extra for the Sport Chrono Package, that is. It's also a more engaging car to drive. It doesn't just handle well for an SUV. It's a proper performance car, period. It feels more like a hyper hatch than an SUV. It lacks the drama of the Mercedes, but the 2.9-liter V6 engine was never going to match that signature AMG V8 soundtrack. But it beats the AMG in several other performance-related categories. It's a tough choice between these two, but either way, you'll be getting an epic SUV.