When it comes to AMGs, I’m a purist. The only cars that bear the AMG moniker should have a plaque on their engine with the signature of the person who hand-built the engine at Affalterbach. So naturally, when Mercedes started slapping the AMG badge on series-production cars, I really thought it was just a shameless cash-grab. Until I drove one, that is.
The GLC 43 is pretty compact, but it’s got a stance like a bulldog on steroids. Sure, it shares a lot with the regular GLC, but seen here in satin black paint with its imposing Panamericana grille, it sure stands out from the crowd. The sloping coupé roofline and optional 20-inch wheels also give it a stunning side profile. At the back, the AMG diffuser and quad exhaust tips are the only things that matter. Even though it’s based on a regular SUV, the GLC certainly looks sinister like all AMGs should.
The AMG flourishes don’t just stop with the exterior. Inside, you get part-alcantara seats, red seat belts and tasteful open-pore wood trim instead of the usual smattering of carbon-fibre. Considering the sloping roofline, even the rear seats are comfortable to spend time in. The GLC doesn’t get the dual-screen dash layout of the newer cars yet, but it still has a digital instrument cluster and a large infotainment screen tacked onto the centre console. Other notable features in the interior are the drive mode selector toggle and exhaust baffle toggle buttons located near the trackpad.
The thick Alcantara-wrapped steering wheel is missing the manettino drive mode selector, but feels great to hold and even better to use, nevertheless. The steering ratio is on the quicker side and the GLC responds to your inputs almost telepathically. For a tall SUV, the GLC certainly behaves like the laws of physics don’t apply to it. Turn in is crisp and mid-corner adjustments are a breeze to make. Throw the GLC into a corner and the all-wheel-drive system works to make sure power is sent to all the right wheels to slingshot you out of the other end. Now that’s a feeling I could get used to.
For the baby AMG, there is no adaptive air suspension, but you still get electronically adjustable damping. In its softest setting, the suspension is still a little too firm. Not so much that it will rattle out your fillings after a bad patch of road, but enough to remind you that you’re in a purpose-built machine. And it only gets firmer from here. Sport mode unlocks the best handling the GLC is capable of, but you better be prepared to be shaken like a martini.
There’s no hand-built engine under the hood, but the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 that is under the hood is no slouch. It puts its 390 bhp to the ground through a quick-shifting dual-clutch gearbox and manages to do it violently enough to shove you back in your seat. It does all of this while burping and flatulating its way through the gears, of course. If you have the exhaust baffles open, you’re in for a treat. You do have the option of toning it down, where the exhaust flaps stay closed and the gearbox smooths out its shifts, but if you want that, you might as well get a regular SUV. When you’re in an AMG, you absolutely must do AMG things!
AMG’s one-man one-engine philosophy is all about taking pride in one’s work and I have a feeling the folks at Mercedes’s Chakan facility couldn’t be prouder to be producing AMGs right here in India. The car feels well-built and is no different in comparison to the CBU models. The GLC 43 is an absolute win for us not just because it’s built here but because it’s a genuinely engaging car to drive and it will now be cheaper to own thanks to the tax breaks that come with producing it here. Am I sad that some German guy didn’t build this engine from start to finish? Absolutely not. It’s impossible to stay sad while driving a car whose sole purpose is to have fun.
Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupé
Displacement: 2996cc, V6, turbo-petrol
Max power: 390 bhp@5500-6100 rpm
Max torque: 53 kgm@2500-5000 rpm
F/R: 255/45 ZR20
L/W/H (mm): 4729/1931/1585
Wheelbase: 2873 mm
Kerb weight: 1875 kg
Ground clearance: 164 mm
Fuel capacity: 66 litres
PRICE: Rs 76.6 Lakh (ex-showroom, India)