Good solid fun with the new Mercedes-AMG GLC 43
You could argue that the GLC is the modern equivalent of the E Class, the Mercedes Benz that is basically just a good, solid performer and an excellent example of the marque’s holistic approach to carmaking.
The modern buyer wants things a bit taller, but still conservative, well-rounded, not too skewed in one direction or another, comfortable and more than competent, but not too plush or fancy, a Benz that inspires confidence and consistency from the minute you move.
But of course, there are those that want more power. And for them, there is AMG.
Those very important three letters began their journey over 50 years ago when Daimler-Benz decided to stop all motorsports activities.
Two engineers, Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, didn’t. They had been working on the 300 SE racing engine when their company pulled the plug, so they took their work home to Grossaspach, Germany and tinkered in their spare time.
The end result was a powerplant that went on to 10 wins in the German Touring Car Championship.
In 1967, the Aufrecht Melcher Grossaspach engineering firm was born. The rest is very noisy, very fast history.
Their cars were nicknamed hammers, and they basically put racing engines into road cars for both road and track.
An AMG Mercedes 300 SEL 6.8 ran in the 1971 24 Hours of Spa, and won its class and second overall against some purpose-built lightweight racecars—with what was essentially a luxury sedan on steroids.
Modern AMGs are beloved, and while they began as powerful beasts that could intimidate on approach, they also became more refined.
Still, their main reason for existence was to put massive amounts of power at your command. This meant for great fun, but not always great balance.
The AMG GT sports/grand touring car model line is perhaps the best example of the modern AMG experience, putting a truly nimble (by comparison) platform together with a big hulking engine. Still, though, not exactly your everyday car.
So now we go back to the GLC, the award-winning Mercedes Benz SUV that we said may well be the E Class for the modern world.
It is well-rounded and balanced and more than competent. But in an increasingly populous sea of fun SUVs, it could stand out more.
So here, with a little heavy breathing, is the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43.
The GLC 43 takes all the seriousness and subtlety and competence of the “regular” GLC, and forces it to breathe AMG.
It doesn’t go the route of overpowering traction with insane torque, but rather it tones and tunes everything to the next level. Think swimmer’s muscles under a Savile Row suit.
A 3-liter V6 bi-turbo engine puts power out to all four wheels using the tried-and-true Mercedes Benz 4Matic system.
The all-wheel drive is fixed, as opposed to ones that change constantly, and is skewed for driving engagement at 67 per cent of the power always moving the rear.
Another stalwart, the 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission, allows the gears to smoothly and seamlessly match the desires of the driver depending on what your foot and your mode choice tell it.
If you get serious, people outside will know. They will hear the double-declutching sounds as the system moves quickly through the gears while also matching the revs.
Again though, this isn’t a bouncer in a bad suit. The GLC 43 is, for the most part, calm and quiet. It never gets rowdy, only more purposeful.
We tested the GLC 43 at the very demanding Sepang International Circuit along with a slew of other AMGs.
The sports cars were of course more sporty, the heavy sedans more planted simply because their center of gravity was lower.
But the GLC 43 turned out to be quite the surprise. It wouldn’t slide out a tail with a mere thought like some of the vehicles meant to do exactly that, and it wasn’t a car you wanted to throw left and right with wild abandon.
It was, however, a car that would accelerate cleanly, smoothly and surprisingly quickly on the long straights.
It would also settle in quite nicely on curves, and it felt best when you got a nice steady rhythm going.
With the higher point of vision so important nowadays, and a platform that is flexible enough to be both comfortable and sporty (but don’t think of it as a sportscar, more a tall sporty sedan), the GLC 43 is a vehicle that will basically be what you want it to be most of the time for most people.
It is arguably a modern AMG for the intelligent driver, and will probably be the most driven, most well-rounded and most appreciated vehicle to have those three magic letters grace its flanks.