by Roger Biermann
For years, the BMW X6’s hunchbacked styling went unanswered by any other manufacturer. Mercedes-Benz has answered, and now boasts 2 coupe-SUV models in its line-up. The Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe is the coupe version based on the identical underpinnings of the regular GLC43 – but with a swooping roof-line that prioritizes style over practicality. The anomaly of the coupe-SUV may seem counterintuitive, but their popularity is growing – take a look at the X4 and to an extent, the Porsche Macan – and the AMG GLC43 leads the charge in the performance orientated coupe SUV segment.
With the exception of the rear cabin, the GLC43 Coupe is identical to its boxy sibling in every way. That means the same aviation-inspired cabin design with swooping dash lines and propeller styled air-vents, and the same infotainment screen that looks a stuck-on afterthought. It looks luxurious, and most materials are of a high quality, but some edges are rough and feel unfinished, and some plastics feel cheap.
The sloping coupe roof line may look good, but it’s highly impractical. The sloped C-pillar makes it awkward to climb into the rear seats without knocking your head, and once inside, the roof-line impedes head room tremendously for adult sized occupants. Cargo volume also takes a knock though not a substantial one – down from 19 cubic feet to 18 cubes. But the sloping rear windscreen has detrimental effects on rearward visibility, despite its seemingly large surface area.
Sporting styling finally meets sporting dynamics. The AMG-tuned air suspension delivers simply phenomenal handling attributes, firming up in Sport and Sport+ modes to prevent body roll in an uncanny manner. There’s a duality in the suspension though – Comfort mode softening the setup to the point that it’s luxurious over all but the most rutted surfaces. But these performance SUVs have flaws. Even in more compact versions like this, the extra weight makes itself felt under braking and cornering, when a top heavy nature makes things feel like they’re going awry. The electronic nannies and suspension aids come to the rescue time and time again, but it feels unnatural – and it highlights the lack of purity in these performance SUVs. Nevertheless, the GLC43 Coupe is worthy of the AMG badge on the tailgate.
The Mercedes-AMG family has a tendency of sharing engines in varying states of tune. But the brand renowned for its brawny V8s equips the GLC43 Coupe with no more than 6 cylinders. The turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 stays true to AMG character though, equipped with a snarling AMG performance exhaust and outputting 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque. Power is directed through Mercedes-Benz’ new 9-speed automatic transmission and reaches the tarmac via a rear-biased all-wheel drive system. 0-60mph takes just 4.8 seconds – just 0.2 seconds off the time of the lower, lighter AMG C43 coupe.
Many options can be equipped to the AMG GLC43 Coupe, which can quite rapidly raise the price of asking. It’s best to be wise with the options, though even the standard kit is already more than ample. Standard 14-way power adjustable sport seats with memory function include heating, along with a powered tailgate and dual-zone automatic climate. Options include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality, full leather upholstery, and ventilated seats. A vast array of safety features has earned the GLC43 Coupe an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2017. Some of these include blind spot assist and forward collision warning with auto emergency braking.
The Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe is dynamically talented – even if it is under heavy influence of electronic augmentation. But it crucially costs $4 000 more than the standard GLC43, whilst compromising the practicality SUVs claim to afford. Is the pursuit of style really worth the extra financial burden? I’m not so sure.