Does the GLC 43 perform like a true AMG?
Given that it has 362bhp and 384lb ft, it's unsurprising that the GLC 43 feels properly quick off the line. Push the throttle pedal through the kick-down and, after the briefest of pauses to let the boost build, the Mercedes hunches down on its rear axle and launches towards the horizon. Sadly, you don’t get the characterful V8 soundtrack that we once would have expected as a matter of course from AMG-badged cars, but once the revs rise, the turbocharged six-pot does a good job of making itself known by delivering a deliciously raspy howl.
Thanks to its twin turbochargers, the GLC 43 also has plenty of low-down torque, pulling strongly from below 2000rpm to make overtaking a breeze, while the nine-speed gearbox is quick to drop a few cogs if Sport or Sport Plus modes are selected. It’s a truly excellent transmission that delivers consistently fast and precise shifts, and most important, manual mode means manual, so you have to be careful not to run into the 5700rpm soft limiter – like we kept doing.
However, if you want to settle back and enjoy your journey, you’ll be pleased to know that Mercedes hasn’t sacrificed ride comfort at the expense of handling. Despite the car's whopping 19in wheels, the adaptive suspension does an impressive job of smoothing out imperfections, and while there is some road noise from the vast rubber, wind noise is relatively unobtrusive.
Turn off the motorway and onto a country road and the multiple driving modes allow you to stiffen the suspension, sharpen the steering and quicken the gearbox. Sounds good in theory, but past experience of the C 43 AMG tested earlier in the year revealed that it was hard to find a happy medium among all the settings. That car was either too wallowy, or too stiff to deal with undulating British B-roads, with vertical movements erring to the faintly ridiculous in the firmer setting.
Thankfully, AMG has found the correct balance with the GLC. The suspension feels pliant and well damped even in Sport Plus mode, shaking off multiple inputs mid-corner. Outright grip is downright impressive for a near two-tonne car and out of slower corners that rear-biased all-wheel drive system is genuinely effective, allowing the car to adopt a small amount of attitude.
Granted, if you push on further there’s a bit of body roll – more than you find in the Macan or SQ5 – and the steering doesn’t exactly bristle with feedback, but this only becomes a limiting factor through high-speed direction changes. Point-to-point, we doubt it would be far behind the Porsche.
Has the GLC redeemed the '43' badge?
With impressive straight-line performance, well-resolved handling and a cosseting ride, the GLC 43 is the most complete ‘43’ variant we’ve driven to date. The 3.0 V6 petrol engine, nine-speed automatic gearbox and rear biased four-wheel drive system feel at home here and, more important for families, it has one of the most luxurious interiors in the class, plenty of room in the rear and a whopping great boot.
Granted, it doesn’t quite have the sharpness of the Macan GTS or the straight-line pace of the SQ5, but as an all-rounder it’s a genuinely compelling machine.