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First local drive: Merc-AMG GLC43 lands

AMG lite: the six-cylinder GLC 43 will pave the way for the V8 GLC 63, which arrives late in 2017.

Mercedes-AMG’s entry grade powertrain now available in the GLC SUV


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9 Dec 2016

UNSURPRISNGLY, Mercedes-Benz is selling as many mid-size GLC SUVs as it can get its hands on despite playing coy at the car’s launch in 2015, and after a lengthy period without a right-hook mid-size SUV to take on the likes of the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, the C-Class based GLC is tearing up the sales charts.

Eighteen months after its launch, the first performance variant has been launched, dubbed the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and it’s the fourth Merc to score the new 43 makeover, after the SLC43, C43 and E43.

At $101,400 before on-road costs, it’s more than $30,000 dearer than the next model down, the GLC250.

Its biggest point of difference is its powerplant and all 43s to date have used a version of Merc’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine. The GLC43 combines it with the company’s nine-speed transmission and an all-wheel-drive system that sends 69 per cent of its drive to the rear end.

Making 270kW and 520Nm, the 3.0-litre twin-turbo engine returns economy of 8.8 litres per 100km on the combined fuel economy cycle test. Merc claims it will dash to 100km/h from rest in4.9sec and hit 250km/h.

It also runs Mercedes’ air suspension, adjustable rate steering and adaptive dampers as standard, and sports AMG external trim pieces to differentiate it from the 250, the next GLC down the ladder.

It runs staggered 21-inch rims, with 285/30 R21 tyres on the rear and 255/40 R21 front, as well as vented and drilled front brake rotors.

Inside it also gets synthetic suede upholstery inserts, a flat-bottom wheel and more AMG trim.

Mercedes-Benz Australia public relations manager Jerry Stamoulis could not predict what percentage of the GLC line up will comprise 43s, but estimated that the company could potentially sell up to 600 a year.

“GLC is a car that’s hard to get, and we won’t know what the true take up of the 43 is until we can get more stock into the market,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the G300 CDI in Victoria.

“It’ll be a higher take up than C-Class, just purely based on volume. At this stage, we’ve already delivered about 50 GLC 43s in the first month, which is a pretty reasonable expectation. But it will be subject to stock levels, which are not going to change in the immediate future – so get in while you can.”

He refuted suggestions that the AMG moniker did not sit as naturally on the 43, given the engines aren’t built in the AMG facility in Affalterbach, Germany.

“The engines may not be built there, but all of the other work like calibration and suspension tuning are done in Affalterbach,” he countered.

A brief drive in rural Victoria reveals a GLC with a fair turn of pace and a lively feel underfoot, with a firm ride and reasonably responsive steering.

There are some aural fireworks, but not in the same vein as the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 in, say, a C63 sedan.

For those willing to wait and boost their budget, the same full-fat AMG V8 is destined for the GLC at a point yet to be officially confirmed.

With a V6 under the bonnet the GLC is reasonably quiet and composed out on the open road, even with the massive 21-inch rims, which can upset the ride a little if the dampers are switched to their hardest setting. However, the air spring suspension does its job ironing out the worst of the road detritus.

The GLC 43 is certainly not readily identifiable as something that sports a bigger than usual engine, despite the giveaway 21-inch rims. With a smattering of chrome trim and brightwork, it avoids looking like a raceday special – but its turn of pace will satisfy those owners looking for something a little jucier than the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder GLC250.

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