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Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 2020 review

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic+ can take you and your family from 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds.

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic+ as a family car? Really? A 500-horsepower turbo-petrol V8 SUV which can throw its 2.0-tonne weight from 0-100km/h in 3.8 seconds? Yes, please!

That’s right, the GLC 63 S may not be for every family, but it was for mine when it came to stay with us for a week.

The GLC 63 S is no ordinary family car, it’s not even an ordinary Mercedes-Benz, it’s the top of the GLC tree with a list price of $164,600.

It counts mid-sized SUV beasties such as the BMW X3 M Competition, Porsche Macan Turbo and Range Rover Velar P550 SV among its rivals.

So, what’s it like to live with as a family hauler? Is it the getting from A to B equivalent of cutting a loaf of bread with a chain saw? Or is it the perfect balance between beauty and beast, practicality and pace? Read on.

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✅ How does it look?

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S looks like it should be kept in a cage and even then you’d be wondering if the padlock was strong enough to stop it ripping the door off and eating you with its giant 'Panamericana' grille.

Everything you see in the images is standard. The tough aero body kit with its large air in-takes, the super-sharp front splitter and rear spoiler, the functional side steps, and the meaty quad exhaust poking out of the chunky diffuser.

And then there are those big feet. They’re 21-inch wheels wrapped in lots of rubber (295/35 rr - 265/40 fr). Only the colour is optional, this one wearing 'Diamond White Bright Metallic' ($1400).

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S looks like it should be kept in a cage. The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S looks like it should be kept in a cage.

This is the SUV wagon version of the GLC 63 S. There is also a coupe version (with four doors) which is a lot less boxy but also not as practical in terms of people and cargo space.

The interior you see is completely standard, too, from the illuminated AMG door sills, the Nappa leather upholstery and the AMG performance steering wheel, to the Black Ash open pore wood trim, brushed stainless steel sports pedal covers and panoramic sunroof.

While it’s a cleanly designed, stylish cabin, free from the clutter of buttons, this design is beginning to show its age. You only need to look at more recent Mercedes models to see the brand’s impressive digital cockpits complete with large panel displays for the instrument cluster and media.

The GLC 63 S gets 21-inch wheels wrapped in lots of rubber. The GLC 63 S gets 21-inch wheels wrapped in lots of rubber.

A new-gen GLC can’t be more than a couple of years away and you can bet the house it will sport those huge screens.  

The GLC 63 S looks big, but the dimensions show it to be medium sized at 4675mm long, 1625mm tall, and 1930mm wide.

✅ How does it drive?

The rumble of Mercedes-AMG’s 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 is beautifully unmistakable and the one in the GLC 63 S has the same 375kW/700Nm output as the C 63 S sedan.

Unlike some other high-performance SUVs, which have to be driven hard to squeeze out a good exhaust note, that gruff soundtrack is there from the moment you push the start button.

Still not loud enough? You can turn the volume up with a button on the centre console which open flaps in the exhaust system so the V8 can bellow freely. That means you can have the SUV in Comfort drive mode and still sound like you’re in Sport without the firmer ride.

The rumble of Mercedes-AMG’s 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 is beautifully unmistakable. The rumble of Mercedes-AMG’s 4.0-litre, twin-turbo V8 is beautifully unmistakable.

Which brings us to what may or may not be deal breaker for you. See, even though the GLC 63 S has air suspension and a comfort setting, you may find the ride isn’t comfortable enough for you or your family.

I found that on roads with smooth surfaces the ride was composed and comfortable but Sydney’s roads, especially where I live, are far from perfect and the GLC 63 S shook and jolted its way over pot holes and the patchy cracked concrete. 

It’s not painful, but your passengers will feel it. At one point my wife asked if I could set the suspension to Comfort mode, but it already was.

As a driver you’ll notice it less because you’re anticipating the bumps and engaged in being the pilot, but your co-pilot and the kids in the back probably won’t be as forgiving. It’s unlikely they’ll be as excited about the superb handling either because really only the driver gets a kick out of that.

It’s a shame the ride is still so firm because the GLC 63 S is easy to drive. It’s a shame the ride is still so firm because the GLC 63 S is easy to drive.

But it’s true, the GLC 63 S has superb dynamics for an SUV and with all-wheel drive it feels sure footed and planted. When I drove it by myself I hardly noticed the harsh ride even in Sport+ mode because I was too busy grinning, with all the windows down soaking up that epic exhaust note as the machine moved where ever I wanted it to, as quickly as I thought about it.

The GLC 63 S is all-wheel drive, that’s what the 4Matic+ means and changing gears is a seamless nine-speed automatic transmission.

It’s a shame the ride is still so firm because the GLC 63 S is easy to drive, with light and accurate steering and great visibility. And if the thought of parking in the main street with a line of cars waiting and watching makes your palms sweaty, you’ll be relieved to hear the GLC 63 S has an auto parking system that’ll make you look like a pro.

✅ How spacious is it?

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S is a five-seater mid-sized SUV and it’s pretty spacious for one with room for me at 191cm (6'3") tall to sit behind my driving position without my knees touching the seat back, with plenty of headroom, too.

Up front there was ample room for my elbows, even with my two-metre wingspan, although the standard seats with the thick side bolsters are getting a little snug for me, despite their power adjustment.

  • Up front there was ample room for my elbows, even with my two-metre wingspan. Up front there was ample room for my elbows, even with my two-metre wingspan.
  • If you have more than two kids then stepping up to the larger GLE might be wise. If you have more than two kids then stepping up to the larger GLE might be wise.

Don’t forget I’m reviewing the SUV wagon version of the GLC 63 S here and it’s far more spacious than the coupe version. That said, if you have more than two kids then stepping up to the larger GLE might be wise.

✅ How easy is it to use every day?

My family and I used the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S every day and found there was good storage with enormous door pockets, a large split-opening centre console bin and seat back map holders.

We liked the wireless charger which is hiding beneath that panel with the AMG lettering in the console (see the images) and USB-C ports everywhere (three up front, and two in the second row).

The boot has a cargo capacity of 550 litres. The boot has a cargo capacity of 550 litres.

Climate control and dark-tinted windows in the second row are family essentials, and it has them along with two cupholders in the back and two more up front.

The boot has a cargo capacity of 550 litres which is not enormous although more than enough for us, But we’re only two adults and a five-year old. Add another child and you’ll use all of that space with bikes, scooters and prams. The cargo cover was easy to use and good for keeping anything valuable covered.

Under the boot floor are clever folding grocery storage crates which work well but are way too small for a weekly family shopping trip, so use a cargo net to stop your oranges and apples going rogue.

✅ How safe is it?

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2015.

Along with nine airbags, front and rear parking sensors, 360-degree camera and run flat tyres, there’s a high level of advanced safety technology.

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating. The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S scored the maximum five-star ANCAP rating.

Coming standard is AEB, which will even work for cross traffic at intersections, evasive steering, which will complete an avoidance swerve for you, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot assistance with lane keeping, and adaptive cruise control.

For child seats there are two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether points across the rear row. I installed my child’s top tether style car seat easily.

✅ What’s the tech like?

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S is brimming with in-car tech. There’s the 'Hey Mercedes' personal assistant which you can ask to make the cabin cooler or for directions.

Add in a head-up display for speed and navigation, a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 10.25-inch media display, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as Burmester audio with digital radio.

The touchpad on the console is good, but I’m a fan of the thumb swoosh controls on the steering wheel – the left one is for the media screen and the right is for the instrument cluster. It may take a few days to work it out but after that it’s so natural that it might be all you use, like me.

✅ How much does it cost to own?

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S is covered by a five-year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended at 12 month/20,000km intervals. A three-year servicing plan is offered and costs a total of $4050, while a five-year plan is $6850.

The GLC 63 S has a 4.0-litre V8 and you’ll need to feed it plenty of petrol. Mercedes-AMG says over a combination of open and urban roads you can expect it to use 12.2L/100km.

After 127km of mainly suburban and urban duties the trip computer was telling me I was averaging 21.5L/100km.


The Wrap

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4Matic+ is a high-performance beast that will still cope perfectly well with a small family thanks to its practicality, advanced safety equipment and cabin technology. The question is will your family cope with a ride which is on the harder side of comfortable?

Family cars are driven everyday and spend a lot of their time at school zone speeds, in traffic and car parks where the roads aren’t racetrack smooth. I think Mercedes-AMG has made the GLC 63 S a little too hard edged, and as a father who’s driven long distances trying to get his child off to sleep, a comfortable ride that keeps everybody happy is more important in a family car than handling. For this reason, I’m giving the GLC 63 S a 7/10. My five-year-old son’s also gave it a 7/10 because it his words “it was good because it was big and fast but also not good because it was bumpy.” Sums it up, really.

Likes

Epic V8 exhaust note
Fast
Practical

Dislikes

Ride even in Comfort isn’t family comfortable
Your family may run out of boot space
Thirst

Scores

Richard:

3.5

The Kids:

3.5

$161,000

Based on new car retail price

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