by Roger Biermann
At the very top of Mercedes' GLC Coupe range - the brand's flamboyant take on the now fashionable coupe-SUV trend - is the AMG 63. If subtlety is your modus operandi, it's best that you avoid this muscular, fire-breathing SUV, because there's nothing tame about its looks, power outputs, or apparent mission to wake up all the neighbors each time you start it up. A hand-crafted, 4.0-liter bi-turbo V8 is responsible for all the commotion, delivering either 469 horsepower in the GLC 63 or an even more vicious 503 hp in the GLC 63 S. In both cases, you can enjoy a raised seating position while reaching 60 mph in under four seconds. Starting at $74,100, you'll need deep pockets for the privilege of driving away in a GLC 63 Coupe, but the same is true for this SUV's arch-rival, the BMW X4 M. While both these Germans suffer reduced practicality relative to their boxier SUV counterparts, it's not really what they're about. This is a case of form over function, and, if the brief was to deliver a sensory experience that elicits childlike bouts of laughter, then the GLC 63 Coupe delivers in spades.
An updated selection of AMG-specific options has been made available for 2019. AMG performance seats and an AMG Nappa/Dinamica performance steering wheel are now available. If you opt for these striking seats, you can also specify them with new designo upholstery packages. Finally, the AMG Performance Studio package now packs in the AMG Optics package as well - this adds additional gloss black trim to the already arresting GLC 63 exterior.
It's a bit of a brute, isn't it? AMG has clad the GLC Coupe body with enough adornments to ensure that you don't mistake this for a meek GLC 300. Outside, there are 20-inch AMG twin five-spoke wheels and that unmistakable AMG grille sporting 15 vertical chrome bars. A rear spoiler, LED lighting, and a power sunroof are further highlights.
Measuring 186.8 inches in length, 62.2 inches in height, and 82.5 inches in width (including the side mirrors), the GLC 63 is a substantial hunk of metal, although a BMW X4 is slightly bigger still. The wheelbase is 113.1 inches long, while curb weight stands at 4,511 lbs. Opt for the more powerful S model, and you'll find that it is marginally taller (62.4 inches) and heavier (4,544 lbs).
That magnificent 4.0-liter V8 does duty in a number of Mercedes performance models, and while its capacity may be down on older AMGs, the two turbochargers work their magic to deliver mammoth outputs. The GLC 63 delivers 469 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of twist, with the 63 S upping these numbers to 503 hp and 516 lb-ft. The less monstrously powerful of the two will hit 60 mph in only 3.8 seconds, with the 63 S doing it a tenth of a second faster.
Channeling all that power to the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is an AMG speedshift nine-speed automatic transmission. You can tailor the speed of the gear changes to suit your mood, but whether firing off quick shifts in maximum attack mode or operating mutedly in the background on the highway, this is a superb transmission. It goes without saying that both models are never short on power - it's much more about reining them in than being able to find the limits of the available performance. To do that, you'll require a racetrack, and it's here that the regular GLC 63 has already proved itself, having set a 7:49:37 Nurburgring record for SUVs late last year. Don't expect the coupe to be much slower, if slower at all.
Mercedes deserves a round of applause for endowing the GLC 63 Coupe's chassis with enough adjustability and poise so that you can actually enjoy that beastly engine without worrying if the rest of the vehicle is up to the job. Using AMG Dynamic Select, a console-mounted switch allows you to easily alter the suspension, throttle response, and other driving characteristics. There are Comfort, Sport, Sport + and Individual modes.
In Comfort mode, although the ride retains a firmness that's typical of a hyped-up AMG, there's also a pliancy that makes the GLC 63 tolerable at a more sedate pace. The throttle is also less snappy, and overall it's pretty refined, the V8 burbling - but not screaming - in the background. Switch to Sport mode, and another layer to the GLC 63's character is revealed. While it will never be able to outhandle a C 63, the GLC acquits itself surprisingly well thanks to decent feedback, steering that's not too light, and loads of grip. The AMG 4Matic + all-wheel-drive system can send up to 100 percent torque to the rear wheels, making the GLC 63 genuinely fun, if still not as ultimately engaging as the Porsche Macan. The AMG 63 S also has a standard Race Mode, best for track use, which results in the fastest powertrain responses and engages ESP Sport Handling for reduced intervention. The S variant also gets an AMG electronic limited-slip differential, ultimately allowing for even higher cornering speeds.
Eco-conscious Tesla drivers are unlikely to upgrade to a GLC 63 Coupe anytime soon, owing to the gas-guzzling habits that tend to accompany such powerful V8s. Both the GLC 63 and 63 S manage the same EPA figures of 16/22/18 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. With a 17.4-gallon tankful of premium unleaded, a combined cruising range of only around 313 miles should be possible. Still, these numbers are a bit better than what BMW quotes for the X4 M (14/16/19 mpg), despite it using a smaller-capacity 3.0-liter turbo-six.
Seating five passengers in a cocoon of leather and metal-brushed trim, the GLC's cabin is certainly a nice place to be. In AMG specification, there are also plenty of touches to remind you that you're in something special. Up front, there's enough leg and headroom, while 14-way power seats provide plenty of adjustment to accommodate frames of all sizes. Thanks to a power-adjustable steering wheel, it's also easy to find a suitable driving position. Compared to the regular GLC, rearward visibility is, however, negatively impacted by a smaller rear window.
At the back, the seats themselves also provide good comfort, although taller people will find that headroom isn't as generous as in the regular GLC. Still, the coupe's interior space thankfully doesn't suffer too badly considering the sloping roofline.
With the rear seats up, the GLC Coupe has 17.6 cubic feet of trunk space - this is identical to what you'll find in the back of the regular GLC. It's only when folding down the 60/40-split rear seats to maximize cargo capacity that you'll notice any loss of space; here, the GLC Coupe has 49.4 cubes, down from the standard GLC's 56.5. Although a high load lip isn't ideal, automatic lowering of the rear air suspension (by around 1.6 inches) is possible, making the task of loading heavier items a less strenuous affair. A handy addition is a lockable storage area beneath the trunk floor, useful for stashing smaller items when, for example, treating your GLC to a valet.
For storing small items, there's a decent amount of space in the doors and center console. Rear passengers get a center armrest containing cup holders, as well. Magazine pockets on the front seatbacks are also provided.
Both the GLC 63 and GLC 63 S are pretty evenly matched and fitted with the highest level of standard equipment in the GLC Coupe range. The power front seats have heating and memory settings, there's dual-zone automatic climate control, and keyless go/entry makes life more convenient, as do power-folding mirrors and a power liftgate. While the 63's seats are upholstered in a mix of MB-Tex and Dynamica, the 63 S gets Nappa leather upholstery. A rearview camera and rain-sensing wipers are among the safety features. A host of driver aids are typical of the modern Mercedes-Benz, and the GLC 63 is no different. The marque's pioneering accident-detection Pre-Safe system is standard, as are blind-spot assist and crosswind assist.
Mercedes-Benz has taken great strides forward in recent years with its infotainment system in the form of MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). But, as these major updates go, not every model immediately benefits, so for now, the GLC is stuck with an older and less user-friendly interface. It's not all bad, with a central controller linked to a seven-inch screen being easy enough to operate. Both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are options but they can't be had in combination with the Multimedia Package which has a bigger 8.4-inch screen and navigation. There's better news for audiophiles, with the GLC 63 getting a 13-speaker, 590-watt Burmester surround sound system as standard (it's optional on the GLC 43). Bluetooth audio streaming, HD radio, SiriusXM with a six-month all-access trial, dual USB ports, an SD card reader, and pre-wiring for Garmin Map Pilot complete the list of connectivity features. However, we're looking forward to the otherwise well-specified GLC catching up to other Mercedes-Benz models for the latest infotainment tech.
The GLC 63 Coupe has an overall J.D. Power score of 84/100, which is good, although not the best in this segment. The NHTSA has also recalled a number of these models for issues related to faulty safety equipment, a common problem with various Mercedes models over the last three or so years. 2018-2019 models were recalled for a passenger airbag that may not deploy effectively, while 2018 GLC 63's were recalled for a passenger airbag that could incorrectly be displayed as "on".
The GLC 63's basic, drivetrain, and corrosion warranties are for four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. Four-year/50,000-mile roadside assistance is also part of the deal.
As is the case with many premium, high-priced vehicles, the GLC 63 has not been crash-tested by the NHTSA or IIHS. However, top ratings for other closely related Mercedes-Benz models point towards the GLC Coupe being built to a very high safety standard. The NHTSA awarded the 2018 GLC a five-star overall safety score, while the IIHS named the regular GLC a Top Safety Pick + for 2019. The GLC Coupe mimics the regular GLC's safety gear, with standard features including seven airbags, LED headlamps and daytime running lamps, and a rearview camera. Driver-assist safety features amount to attention assist, which detects and warns of driver drowsiness, Mercedes' Pre-Safe, which can detect and prepare for an accident, as well as blind-spot assist and crosswind assist. Active lane-keeping assist, Distronic cruise control and active LED headlamps are among the many optional safety features.
While bordering on excessive in its power outputs, price, and attitude, the GLC 63 Coupe exists for those who believe that more really is more. Despite its extremes in so many parameters, this remains a supremely engineered product. The bi-turbo V8 engine is as addictive here as it is in other fast Mercedes models, hurling the GLC 63 towards the horizon as if its life depends on it. With finely balanced dynamics and a slick transmission, the oily bits all work together remarkably well. While the regular GLC SUV is already a looker, the GLC Coupe takes it up another few notches and is guaranteed to turn heads. A sophisticated interior with some brash AMG embellishments also suits the 63's hyped-up personality, despite one or two concessions to practicality. Of course, the BMW X4 M provides a similar mix of ingredients and is another tempting proposition if this is the kind of vehicle you're after. But there's just a certain grandeur that comes with piloting an unfiltered AMG that even the hottest X4 can't seem to match. It makes no sense, but many of the best things in life don't: the AMG GLC 63 Coupe is a cracking SUV.
Starting at a base MSRP of $74,100 is the GLC 63 Coupe, while the more powerful GLC 63 S Coupe costs $81,800. These prices exclude tax, licensing, registration, optional equipment and a destination charge. The GLC 63 Coupe is $3,300 pricier than the regular GLC 63 SUV.
If you're spending this much on a high-performance coupe-SUV, you may as well go all the way and get the GLC 63 S Coupe. While the performance increase is negligible, there are a few welcome extras like Nappa leather seats, the AMG electronic limited-slip differential, red-painted brake calipers, and a Race Mode that makes it hard to forget that you're in the ultimate GLC Coupe there is. Our favorite option? The fantastic AMG front performance seats at $2,500. With power-adjustable side bolsters, integrated headrests, and unique stitching, they are befitting of the hallowed 63 badge.
Two sloping rooflines, two slightly compromised back seats, two output options, and two all-wheel-drive systems. These two are like Apple and Android, McDonald's and Burger King, Google and Facebook, constantly trading heavy blows but with one unable to convincingly knock out the other. The X4 has made huge strides over the generation before it, and now matches the Mercedes for material quality, if not style. Both can take on corners with confidence, although the X4 M does make more of an effort to involve the driver in the process. Mercedes quotes marginally faster 0-60 mph times, but we really mean marginal - consider that the GLC 63 S and the X4 M Competition both produce 503 horsepower. While BMW's most powerful six-cylinder engine is a marvel, the AMG's V8 still manages to put on more of a show. Pick the Bimmer for sharper dynamics and the better infotainment system, but the GLC 63 Coupe for almost everything else.
The upcoming Macan Turbo will return to Porsche's crossover SUV lineup and is set to provide the GLC 63 Coupe with stiff competition. With a 434 hp 2.9-liter twin-turbo V6 under the hood, the Macan will largely match the GLC 63's performance, although early reports indicate that this engine isn't quite as charismatic as the Mercedes' V8. Where there are no doubts, however, are in the dynamic stakes, and here the Macan thrills with razor-sharp responses and handling that would embarrass many sports cars, let alone its competitors in the SUV segment. There's also a well-built cabin with all the expected mod cons and an excellent infotainment system that's a step up from what the GLC offers right now. When the 2020 Macan Turbo does arrive, it's sure to be a fascinating battle between two German juggernauts at the top of their game.