From the standpoint of logic, the high performance Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) genre is an aberration, a freakish vehicle class typified by blunt shapes and sheer weight at odds with the agility and efficiency suggested by the first letter of its name.
If anything, the mission statement of any high performance SUV seems to be to bend the laws of physics. But if you must go down this road then you will quickly find there are varying degrees of this madness to be embraced, with Mercedes-AMG standing tall in their unashamed mastery of the art.
While the GLC43 AMG I drove in Arizona back in April talked the talk, in the end it seemed like a promise unfulfilled. However, as I discovered last week its V8-powered brother truly walks the walks. From the moment you press the Start button and feel the car rock with the torque of AMG’s signature V8 firing up and growling deeply in response, you just know that things are right in the world again.
In recently times past any AMG machine powered by their 6,208cc naturally aspirated M156 V8 felt like a wild animal straining at the leash when you were just cantering along at town speeds.
The current M176 3,982cc V8 motor is much more refined all round, and thanks to the ultra-short induction path between its two turbochargers and the cylinder heads it exhibits next to no turbo lag when you summon its mighty horses.
The base GLC63 AMG has 476 of these between 5,500 and 6,250rpm, underpinned by a healthy 650Nm of torque peaking at a low 1,750rpm, and extending out to 4,500rpm. The S version takes the big numbers to 510hp and 700Nm at exactly the same engine speed ranges.
Although the GLC63 AMG is relatively compact compared to its GLE63 AMG big brother, it is still no featherweight. Tipping the scales at 1,935kg in both SUV and Coupe forms, and 1,945kg in their S version, AMG needs every trick in the book to play the high performance card with reasonable fuel economy, which in this case is a claimed average of 10.7 L/100km.
The standard fit air suspension and active engine mounts make a huge difference to the ride-handling balance of the GLC63 AMG. Perfectly calibrated for the 265/45ZR20 and 295/40ZR20 rubber mounted on the S version’s 9.5J and 10.0J x 20-inch alloys, Comfort mode provides a decent secondary ride even if Sport gets your attention on bumpy roads.