27 June 2018

Mercedes-AMG GLC 63S 2018 Car Review

Mercedes bills the AMG GLC 63 S as New Zealand’s fastest SUV, but it’s not speed you notice when you first get going.

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Ignore for a moment the sheer quantity of carbon fibre lavished throughout this cabin – a cost option – and hit the start button to access one hell of a soundtrack, best heard at idle from outside the car, or while flicking down through the nine cogs in the auto gearbox.

Yep, forget any preconceived notions that a Mercedes outside F1 is for boring oldies, or that soft-roading SUVs are only for urban mums. For this mighty 3982cc biturbo V8 delivers nothing like the creamy smooth, urbane Frank Sinatra soundtrack you might expect from a Merc. Instead it’s the automotive equivalent of Keith Richards at his naughty best, but clad in designer duds and backed by a pure rock symphony. This Merc sits you in leather-clad carbon-finished luxury in what is effectively a high-caliber rocketship that can reach 100kph from zero in just 3.8 seconds, not bad for an SUV which weighs two tonnes.

Perhaps fortunately, all that urge is corralled via the brand’s nine-speed auto transmission, 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system and a rear-axle limited slip diff, with air spring suspension and adjustable damping plus a wide array of electronic nannies all helping keep this high-powered behemoth carving up the road despite the very wet and slippery conditions we encountered for part of our stint.

The package proved as confident and capable as you’d expect of any Merc, which is fortunate, given most owners will use it more as a daily driver than to make like Lewis Hamilton, though they might still be tempted to access the most of the manual gearchange or various drive settings to send the engine popping and barking as you change down through the box…

The Dynamic Select program accesses Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, Race, and Individual, which lets you choose what combo of response you want from the engine, transmission, suspension, stability control and all-wheel-drive. In the event we opted for Sport most of the time, for it remained comfy enough while accessing a more emotive sound and feel, without cutting back on the electronic saviours. Mind you our tester doesn’t have fussy neighbours – a flap in the exhaust can hone or trim back sound according to the drive program selected and your speed, and we suspect suburbanites may choose the quieter Comfort setting around home to keep the neighbours sweet.

On most roads, most of the time, Sport will be your best bet, with occasional forays into manual mode for fun, or Comfort for the side benefits – stop-start and coasting functions to help cut fuel use.

As for the ‘Race’ setting, we weren’t game to try it on our wintery, debris-strewn back-road winter test route, though it did underline how well and how seamlessly all the systems team up to keep this monster feeling assured, and how well the variable power assisted steering works.

Meanwhile front occupants are comfortably wrapped in heated Nappa leather–wrapped sports seats with electric adjustment even altering seat squab length, fabulous for couples of widely differing height. Sitting conveniently nearby there’s the control for the various menus and the buttons to adjust items like the suspension. Look confusing? The manual sits tidily in a net by the passenger knee – we suspect it’ll soon get filed, and that net’ll be used for other things.

There’s another net in the floor of the generous boot with its lockable under-floor compartment, though what you can carry is mildly compromised by the reduced height mandated by a sloping roofline. If you need more space, a power release folds the second row.

As for rear passengers, they have their own air controls, and a wide fold-down armrest with a lift-up lid over a cubby large enough to take a reasonable amount of guff, plus two pop-out adjustable cupholders.

This GLC’s feature list is extensive, from cruise control with a variable speed limiter to Thermatic dual-zone climate control with a charcoal filter, from an air balance package including air filtering and fragrancing to a brake pad wear indicator: there’s even a race timer, should you feel the urge to throw this thing round Hampton Downs. But you might want to check your insurance – after all, including the carbon fibre trim, the exterior carbon package ($4500) and 21-inch black AMG cross-spoke forged wheels ($1700) options, this car will set you back a princely $197,590. No wonder it’s good… 

At a glance


Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 4MATIC+ Coupé


4.0-litre V8 biturbo


$189,900 standard ($197,590 as tested)

ANCAP safety rating


Power and Torque

375kW at 5500–6250rpm, 700Nm at 1750-4500rpm


AMG Speedshift nine-speed auto

Fuel economy

10.7l/100km (98 octane preferred)

Towing capacity




Seating capacity


Luggage capacity/payload

500 litres

Safety systems

  • Park Pilot with 360-degree camera and Parktronic
  • Nine airbags
  • Blind Spot assist
  • Attention Assist
  • Brake pad wear indicator
  • Driver assist with Steering Pilot
  • Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function
  • Active Lane Keeping Assist
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