When my neighbor saw me arrive home with the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, he immediately asked me if it was the very fast one. My answer was that it’s the baby of giants. I believe it’s the best way to describe AMG’s mid-pack performance SUV. Don’t expect this juiced up GLC to rip a new one to an Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, but do expect it to be sweet to drive. Here’s my take on it.
Wears Red Like A Glove
See the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 as a direct contender to “sporty” alternatives like a BMW X3 M40i or an Audi SQ5. However, the GLC is an arguably better looking compact luxury SUV than its German opposition. In AMG form, it’s a hell of sexy little vehicle.Of course, my tester had some interesting add-ons that made it look even more desirable. Notably, the $1,400 Designo 21-inch wheel package with the Hyacinth Red Metallic paint job do a lot at making the GLC 43 appear faster than it is. I’ve always said Mercedes wears red better than any other carmaker this side of a Ferrari and this vehicle is a case in point.If you’re still not sure where the GLC sits within the Benz lineup, it’s squeezed between the entry level GLA and GLB brothers and the midsize GLE. A coupe version of this vehicle also exists, with similar trim levels and engine choices. I personally prefer it in this form as it’s more practical and, well, better looking. But that’s subjective.Because this generation GLC is at the end of its product cycle, it doesn’t get the same EQ Boost mild hybrid technology or inline six engine as in the GLS or AMG E53. Power instead comes from a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 good for 385 horsepower, which is actually 23 horsepower more than last year. Torque remains the same at 384 lb-ft. All of it is mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive.The 2020 model year also brings mild updates like a redesigned front fascia, a new grille which mimics the one found on the more powerful GLC 63 and a revised LED taillight design. The GLC also inherits the latest MBUX infotainment interface, but maintains the traditional dashboard layout, which means it doesn’t get the wide LCD screen found in more recent Mercedes-Benz models.The steering wheel is also all new, incorporating a set of knob dials to adjust drive modes, exhaust sound and the adaptive suspension, a feature I quite like as it prevents you from taking your eyes off the road. Pricing for the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 kicks off at $64,400. My tester was stacked with a slew of options for a grand total of $83,400.
Farts And Giggles
Obviously this being an AMG-badged Mercedes-Benz means it’s very loud and obnoxious. Even though it doesn’t have a fire-breathing V8 sitting underneath its hood, the GLC 43 is still properly disobedient.
Since I believe its most direct rival is a BMW X3 M40i, I’ll use it as a reference to properly evaluate the GLC. It’s definitely louder than the Bimmer, more comfortable and smoother. I personally find this V6 to be a more urgent unit than the hybrid straight six, and the automatic gearbox remains a peach of precision, downshifts fast, upshifts smoothly and responds impeccably well to your driving habits.However, contrary to a BMW, when you pull the paddle shifter to go in manual mode, the transmission still does the shifting for you. You need to actually select self-shifting from a button located on the center console. I personally find that irritating. The way I see it, if I’m pulling on a paddle shifter, it’s because I want to shift for myself, something BMW understands better than Mercedes.That’s actually where the GLC somewhat lags behind the X3, in its willingness to let you drive it hard. Don’t get me wrong, it’s quick enough, registering a 4.5-second o to 100 km/h acceleration time. But it constantly feels more warm than hot, with unnecessary body roll in the corners and a precise, but never too engaging steering feel.What it does fantastically well is feel ultra solid, well put together and beautifully styled inside. That, it does miles better than a BMW. I’m a personal fan of the metallic accents on the steering wheel, door inserts and vents, and its sports seats are up there among some of the most comfortable and supportive thrones I’ve sampled in this type of vehicle. The fact that they’re covered in half suede, half leather also gives them a nice, sporty touch.Cargo space is good, but not great in the GLC. Push the rear seats down to the floor, and it’ll engulf up to 1,149 liters of your gear. That’s smaller than both an Audi Q5 (1,503 liters) and a BMW X3 (1,775 liters).Sadly, I continue to be let down by the MBUX infotainment system. Not for its technology or features. That, it has plenty of, but mostly due to its complexity and irritating habit of swarming you with technology without never asking you if you actually need it.For instance, the proximity sensors activate for the slightest objects. Tree branches, snow flakes and leaves will channel loud beeps through your ears that’ll drive you insane in minutes. And no, they can’t be turned off.But I guess the most obvious question is how fun the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 actually is to drive, and the answer is very. While not as focused as its Bavarian counterpart, its level of balance is actually its best feature, allowing you to throw it hard into a corner and laugh out loud from its obnoxious exhaust farts all while carrying the kids and all the gear that comes with them.At the end of the day, that’s why AMG slaps its letters on the trunk of its cars and SUVs and why the GLC 43 is what I consider to be the sweet spot of performance SUVs.
Review of the 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 by William Clavey
Luxury Compact Performance SUVs
- Adequately fast and loud
- Looks better than main rivals
- Beautifully styled and put together interior
- Smaller cargo hold than competing models
- Handling could be a little sharper
- Complex infotainment system
8 / 10
Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.
Special thanks: Mercedes-Benz Canada
Photography: Guillaume Fournier
Contact the author: [email protected]