SINGAPORE – Auto history shows that Mercedes-Benz was one of the chief perpetrators of the ‘want everything’ type of vehicle.
The CLS-Class, which debuted in 2004, was one of the first modern four-door coupes, and it triggered a landslide of ‘we’re definitely not sedans but coupes’ that now proliferate every segment and have even finagled-evolved into monstrous SUV-coupe crossbreeds.
The CLS is still an excellent car, while BMW’s equivalent 6 Gran Coupe is too heavy for serious shenanigans, but the opposite seems to be true for the crossover-coupes: The GLE Coupe 450 AMG (now known as the Mercedes-AMG GLE Coupe 43) was trying to be too many things at once, and isn’t as a fun as BMW’s X6.
The GLC Coupe 43, as seen here, is just like its big brother: There’s a mix of intoxicating highs coupled with some real niggles that might give a buyer pause.
The good: I don’t think the wizards (or forge dwarves) at AMG have ever made a bad engine. The ‘43’ power unit, which we’re all thoroughly familiar with and is found throughout the Mercedes-AMg 43 range is a real thundercracker. It may be ‘just’ a V6, but it howls, growl and pops its way into your heart almost instantly.
The nine-speed gearbox still delivers the occasional shift where it shouldn’t but other than that the drivetrain is free of sin, while the powerful brake system (packing 360mm front discs) works well and delivers good feel. With 0-100km/h time of sub-five seconds thanks to the V6 and all-wheel drive, it’s also properly quick in a straight line.
The not-so-good bits are the handling and ride.
Suspension-wise, the car gets the top-line adaptive air setup, which lets you tweak the damper settings as well as raise or lower the car on the fly.
We usually try not to quote ourselves, but in this case the GLC and GLE models behave almost identically: “Heavy initial understeer becomes obvious, while the ride quality becomes more unsettled. Changing modes doesn’t eliminate the pitching and pogoing from the suspension and while it’s not terrible, it is noticeable.”
READ MORE: What the heck’s an AMG 43? Read our introduction to the new mid-range AMGs and our model breakdown,
That’s our description of the GLE’s handling, and while the GLC has less mass to move around, so is a little less ponderous at speed, the rest of the sentence still applies. The ride quality is best in ‘Sport’ mode as ‘Comfort’ delivers too much flouncing post-bump (like the E 300), but of course in that mode bumps are a little more obvious, not in least thanks to the massive 19-inch wheels.
On modestly twisty roads, the GLC Coupe makes a good impression of a sports car, it’s enjoyable, responsive and makes all the right noises, though you’re never quite shorn of the feeling that there’s a bit too much weight being flung around on stilts. There’s decent room for five, and auto folding rear seats, there’s even a button to lower the rear suspension so stowing things is easier. The coupe lines impinge on visibility though, as with the GLE, with thick A and B pillars and a tiny rear window.
After a few hours (or in some cases, minutes) of wheel time, it’s usually quite easy to figure out what a car is, as opposed to what it’s supposed to be, or what it’s marketed as.
In that way, the GLC 43 Coupe is a bit like a man who’s been told to carry too many things at once and drops the ball once or twice as a result.
If you’re in love with the car’s appearance (we’re not but we understand, if not condone the SUV craze) then that’s probably enough to overlook the minuses.
If you’re not, then the regular GLC 43 is very likely a better choice (given how accomplished the GLC 250 is), and it’s also $18k cheaper. In fact, the GLC 43 is the least expensive AMG 43 car around, and the only car in the range to cost less than $300k with COE, making it a bit of a fine bargain, unlike its more osentatious sibling.
Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe 4MATIC
Engine 2,996cc, 24V, V6, twin-turbo
Power 367bhp at 5500-6000rpm
Torque 520Nm at 2500-4500rpm
Gearbox 9-speed automatic
Top Speed 250km/h
0-100km/h 4.9 seconds
Fuel efficiency 8.6L/100km
Price $315,888 with COE
Also Consider: BMW X4, Audi SQ5, Jaguar F-Pace