To some, the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 43 AMG is not a “real” AMG vehicle. It’s not because it’s an SUV. It’s because the engine was not hand built by one engineer like the 63-series of AMG cars. But just like the question I asked in the BMW M550i review, does that really matter these days?
Engine – Although this is only an “AMG Enhanced” engine, the 3.0L bi-turbo V6 under the hood of this GLC 43 packs a pretty good punch. It produces 385 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. Despite the SUV tipping the scales at just over 1,900 kg, it can officially accelerate to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds. Although, some other auto publications have seen the 0-100 km/h sprint finished in under 4.5 seconds. So this is a brisk compact SUV. It also makes a pretty good noise.
While it may not be as insane as the 63 AMG variant, the GLC 43 AMG is a good medium between the GLC 300 and the hardcore 63 AMG. With just under 400 hp, it can definitely get you into trouble with the traffic police.
EnerGuide has not tested the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 43 AMG so at the time of writing this article, no official fuel economy figures are available. But the 2019 GLC 43 achieved a rating of 9.3 L/100km (24.5 mpg) on a highway and 12.9 L/100km (18.8 mpg) in a city. During my time with this 2020 model, I didn’t really get close to those numbers because I got obsessed with the exhaust noises. So my combined average fuel economy rating was closer to 14.5 L/100km (16.2 mpg). But at least I had fun turning the fuel into noise and speed.
Transmission – The GLC 43 MAG comes equipped with a 9-speed automatic transmission. It is a traditional automatic transmission, not a dual-clutch. Regardless though, shifts are almost as fast as those of a dual-clutch in the Sport+ drive mode. It also blips the engine on downshifts to make them smoother and faster. Put the drive mode to Comfort and you barely notice the shifts between gears. It’s also quick to respond when the driver stomps on the throttle to overtake another vehicle on a highway for example. In all, this is a fantastic transmission and I can’t fault it on anything.
Braking – Stopping the SUV are 360mm front drilled rotors with 4-piston calipers and 320mm rear discs. Braking force is strong but there is quite a bit more nose dive under hard braking applications than one would expect. However, the GLC stays straight and true in emergency braking situations and automatic emergency braking is a standard feature.
Handling – The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 43 AMG has standard air suspension. It can raise the car if you choose to go onto a dirt or gravel road and it will lower the GLC when driving on a highway for improved aerodynamics. Around corners, there is a bit more body roll than I expected even when it’s in the firmest setting. Although it doesn’t feel as though it’s driving on the door handles.
Push the GLC 43 AMG a bit around corners and it will reward you with a neutral feeling experience. The 4MATIC AWD system does a good job of shifting the power to where it needs to go when you’re exiting a corner thus providing a lot of grip but without the feeling of understeer or oversteer. Steering feel and weight is nicely balanced between canyon carving and daily city driving.
Ride Comfort – Normally air suspension can provide the most comfortable ride of any suspension type. It is the same case in the Mercedes-Benz GLC 43 but not all the time. For the most part it provides a comfortable ride, even when in Sport+ mode. However, over smaller bumps and road cracks, the ride can feel a bit jarry. I think this is due to the optional 21-inch wheels and lower profile tires which are – as Mercedes-benz likes to call them – Extended Mobility Tires. Essentially run-flats.
Interior Space – Both rows of seats provide ample amounts of room for adults & kids. This particular demo vehicle did not have the optional AMG performance seats but the standard seats still provided good adjustability, comfort, and enough bolstering to keep me in place around corners. The rear seats are more flat than the fronts but are still comfortable for longer journeys even for adults up to 6-feet. They can fold 40/20/40 for a maximum cargo capacity of 1,600 L (56.5 cu-ft). With the rear seats up, you get 550 L (19.4 cu-ft) of cargo which is on the lower scale when compared to the Audi SQ5.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – As mentioned earlier, the engine makes a very nice noise with the sports exhaust in its loud mode. Put the engine and exhaust in Comfort mode, and the GLC becomes a calm and serene compact SUV. That is, when you don’t drive on a highway. These optional 21-inch tires generate a lot of noise that intrudes into the cabin. It’s deafening by any means but you do notice it more than in other comparable SUVs.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – For the 2020 model year, the GLC 43 AMG is equipped with Mercedes’ new MBUX infotainment system. It has a similar layout as the last iteration of the COMMAND infotainment system but there are more ways to control it and has a few new features.
Firstly, it can be controlled by the new touchpad on the center console, the touchscreen itself, a blackberry style button on the steering wheel, or by intuitive voice commands. I found myself using the blackberry style touch button on the steering wheel the most to control the infotainment.
Secondly, the MBUX infotainment comes with a couple of new features such as augmented reality turn-by-turn navigation which can overlay directions on the touchscreen from a camera that is looking forward. It’s a pretty neat system and should help in avoiding wrong or missed turns when navigating. Another new feature is Track Pace which can track your time and other metrics around race tracks all around the world. You can also program your own race track into the system and set lap times when you take your GLC 43 around it.
As for the infotainment system itself, it can be a bit confusing to those that are not used to Mercedes’ system. But after a few minutes of playing around with it and navigating through the menus, it becomes much easier to understand and memorize where each function is.
Interior Design – The GLC does not have the new dual screen layout of newer Mercedes-Benz vehicles such as the GLS 450 or A250 hatch. Instead it has an almost identical interior design of the current C-class sedan & wagon. But that’s not a bad thing because it is an elegant and sporty feeling interior. Underneath the optional 10.25-inch touchscreen are vents and physical buttons & toggles for the climate control. You don’t need to dig through the infotainment system to change the temperature unlike in the Volvo XC60. There are also a few quick access buttons for media or vehicle or favourite shortcuts in the infotainment system.
A change for the 2020 model year is the addition of a rotary knob and buttons with small screens on the steering wheel. The knob switches between the different drive modes while the buttons can be calibrated to switch between other functions such as exhaust mode, traction control on/off, suspension stiffness, transmission mode, etc. It may look like a gimmick to some but I like it and it adds to the sporty characteristics of the SUV.
Exterior Design – On the outside, the GLC 43 receives new headlights with a new style of LED daytime running lights, a new Panamericana grille, new front bumper design, new taillights, and new exhaust tips… fakes but you only notice that from up close. Overall the GLC 43 looks like a sporty SUV but also a mature luxury SUV. It doesn’t have the massively flared wheel arches of the 63 AMG or super wide wheels. It’s subtle but elegant in its design.
The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 43 AMG is a perfect midway point between the GLC 300 and the bonkers GLC 63 AMG. Is it worthy of the AMG name though? That’s up for debate. But there is no denying that it is a fast and sporty SUV. It starts at $64,400 CAD ($59,500 USD) and can be equipped up to around $84,400 CAD ($76,700 USD). The Audi SQ5 has a similar starting price while the BMW X3 M40i is a bit more expensive and all of them can be equipped to just over $80,000 CAD. It’s hard to say which one though I’d recommend because if you need space, the Audi is best. If you want driving dynamics, the BMW is best. The Mercedes-Benz though is more in the middle. If anything, it’s the best all-rounder of the luxury compact SUVs.
Thank you to Mercedes-Benz Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Mercedes-Benz.ca