2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 First Look Review: One Of The Best SUVs Around

First Look / Comments

It's not a true AMG but it's still awesome.

The Mercedes-AMG lineup has become difficult to understand in recent years. On the small end of the lineup, there are the 35 and 45 series cars, both of which use turbocharged four-cylinder engines. Moving up the range, the 43 and 53 models both use six-cylinders, a V6 and mild-hybrid inline-six engines. Then you get into the real fire-breathing monsters like the V8-powered 63 series cars and the soon-to-be-discontinued V12 65 series models.

Mercedes recently refreshed the GLC and GLC Coupe for the 2020 model year, and both are available as AMG 43 variants. The 43 series cars are not true AMG cars because they don't feature a hand-built engine - think of them more like an Audi S car or BMW M-Sport. But after its recent refresh, the 2020 GLC 43 still looks like it has the goods to be one of the best compact luxury SUVs on the market.

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Exterior: A Corporate Redesign

The GLC, especially in AMG 43 guise, has always been a handsome SUV. For the 2020 model year, Mercedes has given the GLC 43 the Panamericana grille so it now looks like it belongs in a family photo with the 63 series cars and even the AMG GT sports car. Other enhancements on the exterior include new LED headlights, silver trim pieces, a more pronounced rear diffuser, updated LED taillights, and quad exhaust pipes. Opting for the GLC 43 gives off a substantially sportier vibe than the base GLC 300 and from far away, it's difficult to tell it apart from the more expensive GLC 63.

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Interior: Classy Yet Aggressive

Mercedes has also greatly improved the GLC's cabin with a new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster in front of the driver as well as a new 10.25-inch infotainment display housing the company's new MBUX control system. We welcome the addition of MBUX to the GLC, a massive improvement over the old COMAND system. The old steering wheel has also been replaced with a new metal-faced one, which looks far more at home in an AMG-badged product. GLC 43 models can also have carbon fiber trim, making the cabin look more sporty than a base GLC 300.

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Cargo: SUV Beats Coupe

Cargo space is the main reason why someone would opt for a GLC 43 over a C43 or even an E43, seeing as we do not get the C-Class wagon here in the US. The GLC 43 offers up to 56.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded and Mercedes also offers a GLC 43 Coupe, which reduces the available space down to 49.4 cubic feet because of its sloping roofline. Since the Coupe is more expensive and less practical than the standard GLC, we recommend opting for the GLC SUV.

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Powertrain: AMG-Light Is Still Pretty Great

The improvements for 2020 continue under the hood where the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 has been boosted from 362 horsepower up to 385. All of the power is routed to a 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system through a nine-speed automatic transmission, resulting in a 0-60 time of just 4.7 seconds. This V6 engine isn't nearly as loud as the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 in the GLC 63 but still makes plenty of entertaining pops and bangs as it runs through the gears.

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Price: Paying For The Badge

The 2020 GLC 43 starts at $59,500, or $63,000 if you want the less practical (and uglier, in our opinion) Coupe. This means the GLC 43 costs more than both of its rivals from Germany, the Audi SQ5 and BMW X3 M40i, though it is worth pointing out, the twin-turbo V6 in the GLC 43 produces more power than the SQ5's single-turbo V6 and the X3's turbocharged inline-six. For around $10,000 more, the GLC 63 packs a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 producing 469 hp.

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Insignia Mercedes-Benz

Will It Sell?

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 makes sense because there are plenty of buyers who enjoy the visual appeal of an AMG car but aren't willing to put up with the stiff suspension and massive gas bills. Some AMG purists may scoff at the idea of the GLC 43 being badged as an AMG but it still looks cool, performs admirably, and offers a distinct performance upgrade over a base GLC 300. We think the GLC is more attractive than its main German competitors and the interior is top-notch. The 43 model seems like a nice middle-ground for buyers who want more oomph but aren't quite ready to fully delve into AMG maintenance and running costs.

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