Quick, sure, but not as enjoyable or practical as the straight GLC
Your dad might not recognise this GLC 43 as a coupé, but these days ‘coupé’ has become a catchall word for anything with a sloping back on it, so a coupé is what we must call Merc’s mid-sized SUV.
Cutting through the terminology, what lies beneath? Well, for many the most important thing will be the twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 powering the AMG GLC 43 to a claimed 0-62mph time of 4.9 seconds. That’s the same as the non-slopey GLC 43. What isn’t the same is the boot space. The aforementioned slope nicks a hefty 200 litres out of that. That, and the high rear glass, also somewhat compromises the rear view.
For a suitably dynamic AMG driving experience the air springs have been modded. The three-mode stiffness control remains in place. This is the department in which the car’s problems start to manifest themselves.
Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupé
Engine: 3.0-litre, V6, twin-turbo, petrol
Gearbox: Nine-speed automatic
Kerb weight: 1855kg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
CO2/tax band: 192g/km, 37%
The normal GLC walks a reasonable line between ride comfort and body control, but the Coupé is much more susceptible to the effects of poor roads. Put it in Comfort mode and you’ll experience the undesirable combination of thumping over bumps and holes along with excessive floating over road ‘waves’.
Putting it into Sport mode will reduce roll and bring the body under better control, but mid-corner bumps will jostle you. Sport Plus mode makes that even worse and is probably best left alone outside a race track.
None of this needs to be an issue when you’re having fun behind the wheel, but in all honesty there’s not much of that to be had. The ground-covering ability of this big vehicle is certainly impressive, but the steering doesn’t tell you much other than that the response to the wheel is going to speed up unpredictably when you’re applying lock. Powering out of a bend brings none of the Porsche Macan’s adjustability. Understeer will be a regular presence, along with the blinking of the stability control light.
There’s no criticism of the motor, however. It provides plentiful low-revs torque and will equally happily explore the higher reaches with a six-pot soundtrack that is augmented by popping and crackling in Sport Plus mode. The cabin is predictably impressive with easily-locatable controls. Audi’s MMI or BMW’s iDrive infotainment systems are both easier to use though.
The GLC 43 Coupé is an enigmatic choice. It should be a big, practical SUV, but the roofline has removed much of that practicality. The engine is powerful, but a real-world average of 27mpg without too much flat-throttle driving, allied to uninspiring handling, make it a hard one to recommend.
If you’re in love with the shape, then of course that plus the pace may be enough to swing it for you, but if your needs are more straightforward and add up to SUV style and entertainment, it’s tough to look past the Macan.