Until the A35 AMG arrives later this month, this GLC43 AMG is the most affordable way to get a taste of brute, German power from Affalterbach, although assembled in Chakan, Pune! Looking absolutely sinister in matte gray, the rakish roofline that gives the GLC43 AMG its unique SUV-coupe silhouette is unmistakable, especially with the 20in wheels with grey painted AMG calipers showing through. It makes its intentions to be part of the AMG family well known by way of the aggressive front air dam and splitter, rear diffuser with quad tailpipes and most evidently, the Panamericana grille with the vertical slats. Biturbo badging on the flanks drives home the point that this is no ordinary GLC Coupe.
Packing in the full suite of Mercedes’ latest MBUX features, control and convenience, the cabin looks up-to-date even though it’s based on the regular C-Class. A 13-speaker Burmester hi-fi, 64-colour ambient lighting, what3words navigation, and a customisable instrument cluster make the interior a special place to be in. Even if you’re not in the car, the recent updates to the Mercedes Me app mean that you can even use Alexa or Google Home to control certain functions and send reminders to your MBUX screen when the time is right. It does sound complex, but it isn’t actually. A few steps of set up and you really could be benefitting from one of the best-connected car platforms out there.
There are bits lathered in open-pore wood trim, leather and aluminum and even though the design is now more than 7 years old, it looks rich and elegant. Constant updates have ensured it gets all the necessary features you’d expect too and the infotainment screen size has grown to a healthy 10in too now, besides the 12.3in all-digital cluster screen hidden behind the binnacle. The graphics are crisp and engaging in the AMG mode, partnered with a sports exhaust that is ready to play a symphony on demand. The individual configuration in the AMG Dynamic selector will let you keep the active exhaust valves open even while the suspension and engine potter around in comfort mode.
The ferocious V6 is perfectly mated to a 9-speed torque converter that is smooth as a buttered eel in Comfort mode but snaps like a Mako Shark in Sport plus mode. There’s no hybrid mode here like on the GLE for an electric boost, but there is no hint of turbo-lag, thanks to its bi-turbo configuration. The pops from the exhaust make shifting at the redline addictive and the unfortunate downside of that is that you can see the fuel levels dip inversely to the smile on your face! But, it is also practical performance, with enough ground clearance to tackle all that the city and mild off-roading can throw at it. Ride quality is acceptable for an AMG-level car and the rear seats are spacious enough for a long journey but the thigh support is a bit lacking and cushioning a tad firm. Also, strangely, for a car this class, there is no independent climate control for the rear passengers, just the customary vents. Regardless, it does make for a rapid people mover with a boot large enough to swallow a weekend’s luggage for all.
With looks like this, the GLC43 AMG could’ve been a hot seller even without its menacing performance, but the fact that it does deliver on the AMG badge proves its worthiness even more. It may be down on power compared to the 53 and 63 series AMG models, but in a country where going beyond 120 kmph anyway attracts a mandatory and continuous beep, the 43 has more than enough headroom to push your tolerance for annoying beeps and a heavy right foot.