By the time you say the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic+'s full name, this five-seat mid-sized SUV will have already accelerated well past 120km/h. Equipping such a car with a bi-turbo 4.0-litre V8 might have seemed silly not long ago. But with rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and Porsche Macan Turbo on the market, high-performance SUVs don't seem to be a passing fad.
In the metal
Of the two Mercedes-AMG GLC siblings, this, rather than the GLC Coupe, is the subtler of the two, although that's relatively speaking. It oozes presence, and the Brilliant Blue Metallic paint of our test car combined with the 20-inch five-twin spoke alloys that enclose the 340mm brake discs (gripped by bright red callipers) looks especially good.
The standard Mercedes-Benz GLC is already a handsome SUV, and the AMG treatment adds to this without making it look over-the-top. The new AMG 'Panamericana' grille looks bold and despite its size the lower bumper section is shaped to accommodate additional intakes for cooling.
A wider track gives the GLC 63 S a purposeful stance, and even standing still it looks like it needs every bit of its sticky Michelin Pilot Sport tyres to put its prodigious power down. Incidentally, they're 265/45 ZR20s on the front and 295/40 ZR20s on the rear. While we're used to bulging arches on Mercedes-AMG models, the black plastic trim extensions that surround the wheel arches here might not appeal to everyone, and considering how well the rest of the car is finished, they look like something of an afterthought.
The interior differs little from the standard GLC's, apart from the AMG badging on the centre console and steering wheel, which is part Alcantara and leather. Just like the regular GLC, the quality of the finish inside is excellent. Only the free-standing infotainment screen looks out of place, appearing more like an aftermarket add-on than factory fit. Nonetheless, it doesn't compromise on space or practicality despite the performance gain, with ample space in the rear for two adults and a usefully sized boot.
You won't be surprised to learn that the GLC 63 S is fast. Even the 'regular' GLC 63 produces 476hp, but if you're going to drop €108,415 for that, you may as well go the whole hog and spend the additional €9,875 and get the more powerful 'S' model. Its 510hp is enough to embarrass many sports cars, and the rumble from the V8's four exhausts is addictive. Add the sports exhaust and you can choose when to have it that bit louder, for example, when you select the Sport Plus mode.
In all, there are four drive settings to choose from, including 'Comfort', 'Sport', and an 'Individual' mode that can be configured to suit your taste. Both Sport and Sport Plus do what they say on the tin: the steering weights up and the adaptive air suspension gets a little firmer. You can throw the GLC into bends with real confidence, too, as there's little in the way of body roll, and the grip is there when you need it. Surprisingly, it still feels more analogue than digital in its cornering and despite all the advanced electronics it's still possible to get it to move around a little underneath you. Even the paddle shifters require a bit more pressure to be applied to them than is the norm, adding to the mechanical feel. There are times when you'll pull them a few times to shift to no avail as the car's self-preservation system kicks in. Understandable given the forces involved in the transmission.
With 700Nm of torque arriving at just 1,750rpm, it feels comically fast. Push on a bit harder, especially in Sport Plus, and it feels edgier than expected, but its ride feels equally busy. Even when you dial things back and choose Comfort mode, the suspension can at times feel less than plush. Its case isn't helped by the fitment of those 20-inch wheels, obviously. It would be an overstatement to say it has a Jekyll & Hyde characteristic, but it is capable of settling right down into a reasonably comfortable cruiser where the engine note lowers to become a distant rumble.
What you get for your money
There may be little to rival the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S on sale right now, so you are getting something of a unique package. The 63 S version gets a power boost from the standard 476hp and 650Nm to 510hp and 700Nm. That's enough to shave a further 0.2 seconds off the 0-100km/h dash, giving it a time of 3.8 seconds. Top speed also increases from the limited 250km/h to 280km/h, yet it still manages to return the same official fuel economy figure, though that is likely to be very far down a buyer's priority list.
Other standard features include the adaptive air suspension and AMG Speedshift MCT nine-speed automatic transmission. S variants also get AMG performance seats, which do a pretty decent job of holding you in place during more enthusiastic driving. A Premium package adds keyless-go, the excellent Burmester surround sound system (not that you'll want it on that much given the sound from the engine and exhaust), a panoramic glass sunroof and LED lighting.
If you're even considering purchasing a Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S then congratulations, you are very much a petrolhead. There is little else like it on the market that offers the level of quality inside and outright performance on the road. Now you just need to choose between the two body styles...