AMG's model expansion continues apace as the Mercedes GLC Coupe gets the firm's 3.0-litre biturbo V6 petrol engine slotted under its bonnet to create the GLC 43 4Matic. It'll head the GLC Coupe range until an inevitable 4.0-litre biturbo V8 model arrives, though for most the GLC 43 will be plenty.
In the metal
SUVs were divisive enough before BMW came along and made them more so by removing some of the U (for utility) and adding a rakish roofline to the otherwise upright, boxy SUV genre. Thing is, the concept has been successful, so little surprise that Mercedes-Benz now offers its own takes on the idea. Adding Coupe to the GLC nameplate and hacking off a bit of the otherwise recognisable SUV profile in the process, it'll not win everyone over with its looks, but proportionally the new GLC Coupe looks good, especially in range-topping Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 guise that brings bigger wheels, quad exhaust outlets and a smattering of badges to demark this as something above a mere turbodiesel school-run machine.
The interior follows Mercedes-AMG's tried-and-tested formula of adding some sporting appeal to the already smart and neatly operated interior of a regular 'Benz. There are AMG-specific dials, more deeply bolstered sports seats and plenty AMG badges. It's all enough to elevate the GLC to a more sporting, more expensive sphere. Space in the back is slightly compromised by the roofline, but if you want more practicality there's always the option of the GLC 43 in non-coupe form.
AMG boss Tobias Moers says that the GLC 43 delivers real driving pleasure, and while it's not the full-fat AMG experience of the current AMG flagships, 367hp isn't exactly lacking. It'll reach 100km/h in 4.9 seconds, which is plenty quick for most, while the blaring exhaust that accompanies its keenness for revs is enjoyable enough, even if it is slightly intrusive on longer journeys. There is, as ever, some configurability, the Drive Select system allowing you to wind back the GLC 43 to Comfort mode with those exhausts toned down, right through to the sharper responses and more evocative soundtrack of the Sport and Sport+ settings. The suspension stiffens up accordingly, though as it's AMG's take on the excellent three-chamber air springs it delivers a convincing ride even on its most focused mode.
The steering weighting is decent and there's even a touch of feedback from its rim. The GLC 43's chassis is one that's nicely balanced and competent, if not quite able to offer the intensive, driver-focused finesse of Porsche's Macan. It's close enough though. You might want the Macan's transmission though; the AMG's nine-speed auto is smooth in its everyday modes, but gets a bit jerky in its more sporting settings. Manual shifting helps, but there's the occasional clunky downshift at junctions that's to its detriment.
What you get for your money
The sub-headline AMG model positioning is to the GLC 43's benefit, as its performance is high, but its price is not expected to be unreasonably so. There's a lengthy options list if you want to personalise, but that's true of all its rivals. A sharp looker, the only real issue with the GLC 43's desirability is the availability of AMG Line equipped diesels, which bring all the looks to the untrained eye, but without the performance (and better economy and emissions).
The Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe fits a niche within a niche, though does so convincingly enough. It's not the full-on AMG experience, but close enough for most everyday, and right up with its rivals as a driver's choice.