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Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S review (2017-2023)

A fast SUV with an AMG V8 might not be the purist’s choice, but there’s no arguing with the GLC 63’s character.

Evo rating
  • Thundering performance and soundtrack
  • Not as sharp as a Porsche Macan

Mercedes is transitioning towards smaller hybrid engines for some of its core AMG models, and with the loss of the charismatic M177 4-litre twin-turbo V8, these next generation cars have big boots to fill. With the new GLC 63 borrowing its 671bhp four-cylinder plug-in powertrain from the latest C63, the outgoing V8 model continues to appeal as a true AMG hot-rod.  

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> Click here for our review of the Porsche Macan Turbo Performance Pack

The previous GLC 63 held the title of the world's fastest SUV when it went on sale, but to compete against cars like the Porsche Macan Turbo and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, you need more than character and straight line speed. The question is, do the dynamics live up to that sensational engine? 

Engine, transmission and 0-60 time

Under the bonnet you’ll find AMG’s familiar M177 4-litre twin-turbo V8. It’s the same basic unit found in the W205 C 63 range and comes in the same two states of tune. The basic GLC 63 gets 469bhp and hits 62mph in four seconds flat, while the more powerful ‘S’ model pushes out 503bhp – shaving two tenths off the 0 to 62mph sprint. Selecting the AMG Driver’s Package (standard on the S) removes the car’s limiter and raises the top speed to 167mph (174mph on the S).

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All cars use the firm’s new nine-speed multi-clutch (MCT) gearbox, transmitting power to all four wheels via Merc’s 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system. Performance is unaffected whether you go for the regular SUV or the rakish GLC Coupe.

Technical highlights?

The centrepiece of any AMG Mercedes is the engine, and it’s no different when it comes to the GLC 63 and 63 S. The bellowing V8 is nothing short of a masterpiece, thundering into life like a clap of thunder. All models get air suspension, adaptive damping and configurable drive modes, too, though no amount of adjustment will make the AMG ride like its standard siblings. It’s simply too stiff to be called comfortable.

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Merc’s 4MATIC+ all-wheel-drive system allows the GLC to handle more like a rear-driven wagon than a lardy 4x4 thanks to fully variable torque distribution. Don’t let its size fool you – this thing will slip and slide with the best of them. A limited-slip diff and performance brakes are fitted to all models as standard.

What’s it like to drive?

The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S has more than a hint of old-school muscle about it. That bi-turbo 4-litre V8 ripples with energy, offering relentless acceleration and a soundtrack to match. The GLC's optional sports exhaust adds to the drama, providing more bite under power.

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Flooring the throttle instantly sends the car’s weight rearwards, and as the nose rises the GLC pings effortlessly towards the horizon. It’s quite alarming how quick it is, sprinting to 62mph faster than many pure sports cars. Of course, size-wise the GLC is more comparable to the Macan, and while it does a good job of hiding its bulk, it can’t match the Macan’s agility when the roads become more challenging. The GLC 63’s steering, while sharp and well weighted, feels twitchy around the straight-ahead and makes the tall SUV a little nervous on rough roads. 

The gearbox fires through its ratios with rapid changes on the way up but can feel reluctant and lazy on the way back down. The sheer number of gears means there can be a delay when you plant the throttle, but plan your overtakes and the GLC is mind-bendingly fast. Perhaps most impressive is the 63’s dual personality; find yourself on a busy motorway and the GLC will settle into a hushed cruise. 

Rivals

With the V8 engined GLC 63 no longer on sale in the UK, the Jaguar F-Pace SVR remains as the SUV of choice for those seeking eight-cylinder thrills. The Jaguar is a wonderful road car, offering enough dynamic edge without sacrificing its exceptional cruising ability. After a heavy facelift in 2020, the cabin quality and tech are far more competitive, too. The new four-cylinder GLC 63 will need to be quite something to match it for drama.

The Porsche Macan GTS is another rival that seeps with quality and finesse. Generating 434bhp from its 2.9-litre twin-turbo V6, it doesn't sit at the top of the power charts, but the level of performance feels in harmony with the composed, agile chassis. The Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio is a more exuberant choice, and benefits from a recent facelift and interior tech upgrade.

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