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2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Coupe: First Drive Review

Mercedes wasn’t kidding when it informed us several years ago that it would be making AMG versions of practically every vehicle it sells. There’s the small CLA 45 for those just starting out, the E 63 S Wagon for families and even the S 65 for the ultimate example of luxuriously-powerful transportation. While those might be typical examples of vehicles to get the performance treatment, there have been others. Sport utility vehicles such as the GLE 63 and G 63 haven’t been excluded, and remember the multi-purpose (read: minivan) R63? R.I.P. Well, now there’s the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Coupe — a vehicle that’s not quite car, not quite SUV.

Styling

The exterior typically has a love it or hate it effect on observers, primarily from a profile or rear view, due to its coupe-like roofline and polarizing rear-end. In front, the GLC 63 S Coupe features the Panamericana grille — a vertical-bar design, embossed with Mercedes’ large 3-pointed star that was previously found solely on the AMG GT family of sports cars. Wider front and rear bumpers with a large splitter and vents provide plenty of cooling, and the enlarged wheel arches house the staggered 20-inch 5-twin-spoke alloy wheels. The previously mentioned sloping roofline identifies this GLC as the Coupe (there’s an SUV version, too) and provides an aesthetic that, in my opinion, seems to work better in AMG guise than the standard GLC 300 4MATIC Coupe.

Carefully sliding into the backseat, passengers will find an amply spacious position with more interior headroom than the doorframe would imply, but the cargo area does suffer with only 49.4 cu ft. of cargo space when the seats are folded. That’s seven cu ft. less than the GLC SUV and almost 15 less than the E 63 Wagon, in case you were wondering.

Up front, the heated and cooled leather seats are well bolstered for spirited driving, yet are comfortable for an extended tour, and the metal Burmester speaker grilles are a perfect match to the carbon fiber inserts and red contrast stitching. The instrument gauges have illuminated red indicators that are easy to read at all velocities, and the AMG Sport steering wheel is thickly padded, feeling as though it was designed exclusively for whomever grasps it. The 8.4-in COMAND screen is very functional via its touchpad and central controller, however, its tablet design has begun to look a bit dated when compared to the most recent infotainment units from Mercedes.

Performance

With a press of the ignition button, all is forgotten as the 4.0L biturbo V8 growls to life. In this application, it makes 503 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque and is connected to a 9-speed AMG SPEEDSHIFT multi-clutch transmission (MCT). Power is directed to all four wheels by way of AMG’s Performance 4MATIC all-wheel drive system and an electronic rear-axle limited-slip differential not only improves traction while accelerating out of corners, but also works with the vehicle’s electronic stability program (ESP), allegedly making it easier for commoners such as myself to drive the car closer to its limits. The engine’s deep burble sounds fantastic and can be muted a bit via the active exhaust button in case your neighbors don’t have quite the same feelings.

Performance of the GLC 63 S Coupe is another high mark with a 0-to-60 mile-per-hour time of just 3.7 seconds and an electronically limited top speed of 174 mph. Fuel economy is rated at 16 miles per gallon city, 22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined.

At just over 4,500 lbs, the GLC 63 S Coupe is no lightweight, so you should probably remove auto-crossing from your list of things to do with it. But don’t fret, because this brawler of a vehicle loves an open road.

Behind the Wheel

Cruising through the remote countryside of Kentucky, the GLC 63 S Coupe gobbled up pavement in a very satisfying manner as we crested over blind hills, passing abandoned barns strategically placed in overgrown fields. Sport+ mode kept the suspension firm and the throttle lively, and the guttural exhaust note was way more interesting to me at that point than the limited local terrestrial radio stations. With the engine’s trumpets at full blast, I must admit to pondering whether the V8’s tune would complete some of the barns’ disassembly that mother nature had previously begun.

Once we reached the interstate during our return, we re-engaged Comfort mode and were instantly reminded of what makes Mercedes-AMG vehicles so distinct. The brash, in-your-face demeanor that was previously so expressive on the quiet rural roads was simply tucked away with the press of a button, muting throttle inputs, softening the suspension and transforming the cabin into a more serene environment when compared to the hustle and bustle of the highway’s afternoon rush hour traffic. And after a full day of driving in a manner that some might consider juvenile, this more mature mode was definitely appreciated.

The Verdict

High-end vehicles are created not because there is a need for them, but because they fulfill a desire that regular cars cannot. I’m sure this is one reason why Mercedes-AMG exists. And while the challenge of identifying the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S Coupe as a car or an SUV still lingers, there’s no denying it’s very much an AMG.

To gain access to this information, Autotrader attended an event sponsored by the vehicle’s manufacturer.

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