2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe review: Vanity over versatility – Roadshow

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe

In profile, you can really see the GLC Coupe’s sloping roofline. 


Craig Cole/Roadshow

Looking for a high-performance luxury utility vehicle but want something with a bit more visual flair? If you find the standard Mercedes-Benz GLC a little too ordinary, consider the coupe variant, especially in AMG GLC43 guise. Its gently sloping roofline provides extra pizzazz, while its pumped-up powertrain delivers ample performance. You could debate until the proverbial cows come home about whether this four-door SUV is actually a coupe, but regardless of what side you fall on, it’s both dynamic and upscale.

Like

  • Husky-sounding optional exhaust
  • High-quality interior trimmings
  • Strong acceleration

Don’t Like

  • Porsche-esque options pricing
  • Slight transmission lag
  • Backseat is a bit tight

This Mercedes is easy on the eyes, with a perky backside and smiling front end. For 2020, it has received several design tweaks including a new grille, an enhanced lower rear fascia and slimmer headlights for a slightly more menacing appearance. Black-finish quad exhaust tips and optional ($200) 20-inch wheels accentuate my tester’s generally tasteful appearance. But that drooping lid is still a head-scratcher — if not a head-basher — to me. To be fair, Mercedes-Benz is far from the only automaker doing this. The GLC Coupe has several soggy-top rivals including the BMW X4, Porsche Cayenne Coupe and upcoming Infiniti QX55

Despite its collapsed profile, this version of the GLC is still pretty spacious inside — cargo capacity hasn’t been as savaged by that roofline as you might expect. The coupe offers around 17.7 cubic feet of room behind the rear seats and about 49.4 with the backrests folded. The standard GLC43 SUV is only slightly more spacious, offering 19.4 cubes behind the rear seats and 56.5 with them upright.

Comfort in the GLC43 AMG Coupe is generally good. The front chairs are firm and supportive, trimmed in MB-Tex imitation leather and Dinamica artificial suede. If you prefer a material shucked off an actual animal, a range of genuine leather is offered for $1,620 more. A super-premium Nappa leather is also available in striking black and white, though this combo costs an additional $3,100. This vehicle’s front buckets are also heated and provide plenty of bolstering without being too snug. Unfortunately, the backseat is less hospitable, barely able to accommodate my 6-foot frame. There is enough space for my legs, but headroom comes up short, causing my noggin to touch the ceiling. Also, the rear backrest is too upright to be comfortable for long. 

Inside the GLC is Mercedes-Benz’s new steering wheel with touch-control buttons. These little nubbins on the tiller’s spokes make it easy to navigate through the 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system, or reconfigure the available 12.3-inch instrument cluster. Curiously, those digital gauges are not standard, they cost an extra $750. The rest of this vehicle’s cabin is pleasant, with plenty of high-quality materials and substantial-feeling controls. From the air vents to the door handles, everything is solid and feels premium. The bright-red seat belts are oh-so cool and match the contrast stitching on the seats, door panels and dashboard. About the only thing I don’t care for is the infotainment system’s trackpad, which takes up quite a bit of space on the center console, and the black-colored ash-wood trim. It looks and feels a bit too much like plastic, but other options are available. 

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe

This AMG’s interior is a pleasant place, with plenty of rich materials and loads of tech.


Craig Cole/Roadshow

Per usual, the GLC Coupe’s MBUX infotainment system is highly responsive and easy enough to use, but it offers a lot of functionality — potentially too much. In some ways, it reminds me of a computer’s desktop operating system, since it has more layers than phyllo dough. There are also lots of shiny UI elements and drop shadows which I’m not necessarily a big fan of since they look outdated. But hey, at least the system is super responsive and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the range. One example of how complex MBUX can be is how you adjust the exhaust system or the dampers. I count four ways of doing this: dedicated buttons on the steering wheel, a rotary dial on the steering wheel, separate switches on the center console or via the infotainment screen. There are also multiple instrument-cluster designs to choose from, too. Talk about overkill!

Despite having a price tag north of $70,000, my AMG GLC43 Coupe still lacks a range of useful advanced safety features. Things like lane centering, adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams are not standard. Instead, these features, and others, are bundled in the $1,700 driver-assistance package. It seems Mercedes-Benz is getting rather Porsche-esque in how it handles options. For instance, they want $450 for ventilated front seats, $250 for a heated steering wheel, $760 for three-zone climate control and an extra $200 for an emergency spare tire. Call me crazy, but this stuff should be standard on a vehicle that costs as much as the AMG GLC43 Coupe.

Fortunately, Benz hasn’t skimped out in the powertrain department. Motivation is provided by a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that is both smooth and potent. Breathing through an optional and driver-selectable AMG performance exhaust system ($1,250), the engine makes all kinds of snorty sounds when worked hard. If you don’t care for all the theatrics, you can recork those pipes at the push of a button, which makes this Mercedes as quiet as Camry.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe

This 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 delivers a more-than-respectable 385 horsepower.


Craig Cole/Roadshow

The GLC43’s engine delivers a healthy 385 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. Aided and abetted by a highly responsive nine-speed automatic transmission with a torque converter instead of a multi-plate wet clutch, which is offered in other high-performance Mercedes-Benz models, this vehicle can rocket to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, a properly quick (if not bone-crushing) performance. An AMG-tuned all-wheel-drive system ensures this SUV can put that power to the pavement, even in adverse conditions. If you want more speed, consider one of the GLC63 variants. They’re propelled by a 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 that, in S trim, delivers an impressive 503 horsepower.

Driven normally, this machine is plenty sporty, its transmission is smooth and very quick to change gears when you’re in a playful mood. Unfortunately, this gearbox is not quite perfect, as it has a slight lag when taking off, when you roll on the accelerator from a standstill. This delay is pretty annoying and doesn’t seem to change even when rifling through the various driving modes. 

Grievances aside, this powertrain is reasonably efficient for the performance it provides. The GLC43 Coupe is rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on highway drives. Combined, you should expect 21. In mixed use, I actually topped that estimate, averaging 21.7 mpg according to the trip computer, which isn’t too shabby.

2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe

This may be the AMG GLC43’s most attractive angle. 


Craig Cole/Roadshow

The AMG GLC43 Coupe’s adjustable air-suspension system offers three different damper settings: comfort, sport and sport+. Per usual, I prefer leaving it in comfort, which provides a ride that’s still pretty tuat but never sloppy. It’s a little more forgiving than the other two settings, though, honestly, I don’t notice a huge difference in ride quality between any of them. The GLC43 is firm and well behaved. 

The AMG GLC43 Coupe is about $3,500 more expensive than its more traditional two-box counterpart. My tester rolled off the assembly line in Bremen, Germany wearing a $71,805 price tag. That total includes $995 in delivery fees and just shy of 11 grand in options, though it could have been pushed well into the 80s without much effort. 

Comfortable and well made, quick and light on its feet, the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe is good fun and suitably luxurious, but it’s still a product not everyone will understand. Honestly, I’d rather just have the standard GLC and call it a day, but if you want something a little swoopier, by all means consider the coupe.