Car Reviews First Drives

2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe First Drive: More AMG for the Masses

Is it more pointless than the regular GLC Coupe or less?

Is it more pointless than the regular GLC Coupe or less?

The Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe is arguably near the top of the list of pointless things; it’s not quite an off-roader, not quite a wagon, and not quite a sports car. The 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe therefore poses an interesting question: Is it more pointless than the regular GLC Coupe or less?

The GLC43 Coupe is the latest addition to the burgeoning Mercedes-AMG lineup and follows the AMG-lite formula established by the C43 and E43 sedans. Under the hood is an AMG-massaged version of the 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 that develops 362 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to an AMG enhanced 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission and drives all four wheels through the AMG Performance 4Matic system that delivers 69 percent of the torque to the rear wheels.

The GLC43 Coupe also comes with AMG’s sports suspension, which uses Daimler’s multichamber air spring and adaptive damper setup, retuned to reduce roll and improve body control. The front end has also been reworked and now features special steering knuckles and load-bearing joints to improve stiffness and an increased negative camber for better cornering grip. The multilink rear suspension has also been given more negative camber.

2017 Mercedes AMG GLC43 Coupe rear three quarter in motion 01

Although the GLC43 Coupe rolls on road-oriented 20-inch wheels and low profile tires—255/45 R20 up front and 285/40 R20 at the rear—the height adjustable air suspension helps it retain some off-road capability. AMG claims the GLC43 has approach and departure angles of 21.2 and 21.8 degrees respectively and will ford water 11.8 inches deep. Not Rubicon Trail stuff, to be sure, but better than the average station wagon.

Except, as with the regular GLC Coupe, the 43 has little of the load-lugging practicality that makes the SUV a station wagon alternative for most American consumers. That swoopy roofline means three or four smallish soft bags are about all you’ll get in the load area if you want to keep your luggage hidden out of sight under the cargo cover.

AMG’s bigger wheels and tires, different front and rear bumper fascias, and a discreet spoiler across the lip of the rear hatch give the GLC43 Coupe a more muscular street presence than the regular version. And the good news is the AMG mechanical tweaks deliver some of the performance and handling promised by the styling. Though top speed is limited to 130 mph because of America’s preference for all-season tires, AMG claims the GLC43 Coupe will accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds, or about 1.5 seconds quicker than the four-cylinder-powered GLC Coupe.

It certainly feels a lot quicker that its four-cylinder sibling. The twin-turbo V-6 serves up a healthy chunk of midrange torque that’s deftly surfed by the smooth shifting nine-speed automatic transmission. And because it’s an AMG, there’s a nicely muted snarl from the exhaust with just a hint of a snap-crackle on the overrun as the transmission matches revs on downshifts in Sport, Sport +, and Manual modes.

Our time behind the wheel of the GLC43 Coupe was brief and confined to Portuguese freeways and two-lanes while en route to drive the monstrous AMG GT R Coupe. We can’t be too definitive about the ride, other than to say it doesn’t feel noticeably harsher despite the more tightly controlled body motions. There’s not a ton of feel through the steering, but the meatier rubber gives the 43 more initial bite on corner entry and more grip through the turns.

A little quicker in a straight line and a little sharper in the twisties, the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe doesn’t merely look the part; it is unquestionably a more sporty drive than the GLC Coupe. Which is arguably the whole … er … point.