Mercedes AMG GLC 43 Coupe drive review: Performance now Made in India
Mercedes has been betting big in the Indian market and leading the luxury segment for quite some time now. 2020, despite all its mile-long list of challenges for the automotive industry at large, has been a good one for the German car maker with it coming good on the promises of launches galore. It has been a phenomenal charge, one that shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. But while launches have been galore, the cornerstone of all developments, perhaps, was the recent announcement of assembling AMG cars in India. Why? For one, it makes these performance vehicles more affordable. But even more significantly perhaps is that Mercedes sees the Indian market and buyers here to be mature enough to warrant local assembly.
Yes, AMG is now 'Made in India.' And it is hardly surprising that first off the block is the AMG GLC 43 Coupe. Perfect choice on paper - right price bracket, size, shape, flair and flavour. But what does this car have to offer out in the real world and can it be the new hot machine in town? I took it out for a two-day city spin in and around Delhi to find the answer to just that.
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What's in a drive? Everything!
It would be a shame of sorts to write about an AMG and not start straight from how much of a quickfire it is. A three litre twin-turbo V6 engine rumbles under the hood with 385 bhp of power for the taking. Yes, that is slightly more power than what was previously on offer - 23 bhp to be exact. Add 520 Nm of peak torque to the mix and the AMG GLC 43 lives up to its name and heritage both.
In plain English? Sure. There is obvious power for the obvious taking as the AMG GLC 43 leaps forward with the intention of a rocket and a face of a charging bull. Is it a Lamborghini then? Not even close but being one of the youngest member in the AMG family, it is aware that speed is what will define its destiny.
And yet, it is also its ability to calm down and amble along that makes the AMG GLC 43 so much fun. Select the Comfort Mode, custom click the exhaust button to 'Moderate' and flow along meandering roads with cruising casual spontaneous. Here is an AMG that can be what you want it to be - hitting 100 kmph in 4.9 seconds in Sport Plus Mode, eating roads thanks to a decent ground clearance and firing from the performance exhaust set up, or just ambling along in Eco.
But it isn't quite about the individual heroics of the engine alone. The nine-speed automatic gearbox plays a capable support role for the most parts to ensure whatever you want the script to be, there is a standing ovation at the end.
Ok, attempt at metaphors aside, the gearbox is responsive and slots the numbers well even if it isn't quite as fluent as those found in some higher-end AMG units. However, unless you have always only driven AMGs - or review cars for a living, you are very unlikely to notice the difference. Either way though, engage the large paddle shifters behind the solid steering set up for a more purposeful shift-on-command.
Overall, the AMG GLC 43 holds its lines well and despite its SUV proportions, is deft taking turns too. The suspension set up, however, was a bit too stiff for my liking, even in Comfort Mode. How much? I admit I checked the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System for the numbers just to be sure if it wasn't just a case of over-inflated wheels. It wasn't.
There's power in the style too!
The 'Coupe' in the AMG GLC 43 Coupe sort of underlines the SUV's sweptback flair even when it is standing still. Here's an AMG which doesn't really go overboard in exterior styling and yet, almost effortlessly, gets glances galore. The sloping roofline from the side is what backs its Coupe profile while the racy body character lines seek to add a bit of drama.
The alloys look stunning too while over at the front, an updated and more prominent Panamerica front grille, solid LED headlights with DRLs and a sculpted bonnet give the AMG GLC 43 a strong face.
But the best part though is reserved for the rear where new LED tail lights with chrome highlighters, dual twin exhausts and a wide lid profile complete a no nonsense look.
Step in to step up
The cabin of the AMG GLC 43 is a familiar place for someone who has been inside a GLC. The air vents, the 12.3-inch digital cockpit, the 10.3-inch main infotainment unit with the latest MBUX system - are all hand in glove to provide a typically Mercedes-Benz-like experience. And yet, the AMG element comes to the fore courtesy the red seatbelts, red stitching on the seats and the flat-bottomed steering wheel with the 'AMG' lettering.
The front seats also have generous levels of cushioning and can be adjusted electronically for recline and position. The steering too can be adjusted for rake and reach electronically while the center console hosts a main trackpad for the infotainment system, flanked by multiple buttons to customize the drive characteristics with.
The rear seats too are nicely bolstered with good cushioning and decent leg and knee room. On the flipside, headroom is limited because of the stooping roofline while the high armline under the windows eats into the size of these windows.
The Burmester audio system inside this vehicle is typically premium although I always tend to lean more in favour of the Bang & Olufsen systems inside Audi cars. But that's just me.
Press of a button and the trunk opens up to reveal a plush and generous boot space - good enough for at least two big suitcases that commercial airlines tend to perceive as money bags owing to excess weight. In Mercedes, there's no need to be stingy.
The AMG GLC 43 is a plush car and while it almost begs to be driven, it is charismatic enough to be driven around in as well.
If you have always wanted to be behind the wheels of an AMG, this SUV right here now makes dreams come true thanks to its 'affordable' price of ₹76.70 lakh ( ex showroom).
The Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43 Coupe is performance oriented, obviously, but can be a capable daily luxury workhorse too if you choose to turn it into one. With striking looks to adding to its credentials, this SUV makes a massive case for itself among performance luxury SUVs, also because of its price point now. But if driving enthusiasm isn't your primary focal point, there's much else on offer in the non-performance luxury market too - whether Mercedes or its rivals.