2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 63 is muscular and almost American

The Mercedes-Benz GLC has several qualities that make it appealing – sometimes in a contradictory way. It’s a large compact luxury SUV that can tow a trailer and whose AMG 63 model comes with a supercharged V8. All things that greatly appeal to American buyers.

Oddly, the plug-in hybrid model we drove last year seems more appealing than does this AMG 63 with a supercharged V8. This could be because this reviewer has become more woke, but more likely it’s because that GLC 350e model made sense. The 2020 GLC 63 from Mercedes’ AMG is a bit confusing.

It has all of the things expected of a compact SUV and a few things that are more of a surprise, but greatly appreciated. It’s got plenty of cargo space, a spacious back seat, lots of standard safety features and technologies, and the newest MBUX voice-recognizing infotainment setup. A few friends and their stuff can fit in, plus you can talk to the car instead of hunting around menus on a touchscreen. Those are all very high points.

In terms of comfort the GLC has a lot of it. After spending most of a week with it as a daily driver for two adults and three children, it proved itself admirably. We then made an airport run with four adults and all of their luggage for a week-long trip – again, the 2020 GLC was excellent. Even better, when looking for an address while out on the go, using the “Hey, Mercedes” and asking to find the location was great. No stopping the vehicle, no fiddling with menus, no distraction from the road. Just “OK, here you go” and the turn-by-turn began.

In the 2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 63, though, there’s the addition of a massively growling 4.0-liter V8 that produces 469 horsepower (350 kW) and 479 lb-ft (650 Nm) of torque. This huge amount of muscle is accommodated by brake upgrades, a mechanical limited-slip differential, variable-torque all-wheel drive, and sport suspension upgrades. There’s also a Burmeister audio upgrade in surround-sound.

The AMG 63's big V8 puts a lot of power to the road quickly, thanks to supercharging
The AMG 63’s big V8 puts a lot of power to the road quickly, thanks to smart use of muscle and a well-tuned transmission

Aaron Turpen / New Atlas

It would seem like the added V8 rumble and its 150+ horsepower boost would take the already really very good GLC into the realm of awesomeness. Yet it doesn’t. Instead, it makes it feel oddly out of place. It feels good and is fun, but the AMG GLC 63 also feels out of place. It’s a sort of German take on American muscle.

The missing element is probably due to the exceedingly good handling and very well-considered suspension. Most American muscle cars and SUVs are basically straight-line machines that don’t corner terribly well and are prone to body roll. The GLC has none of that, cornering like a European sports car and staying tight and nearly level (thanks to the air suspension) while doing so. There are no elements of the Dodge Durango SRT or the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk in the Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC’s road feel.

During our time with it, we didn’t take the GLC off the road in either the plug-in version driven last year or this AMG powerhouse driven this year. It would feel almost sacrilegious to do so with an SUV like this one. It clearly has some light off-road capability, sure, but it would feel odd to use it for that. Almost wrong.

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 63 is an excellent machine. It has an odd, not-quite-American feel about its almost outrageous musculature and power, but that could be appealing too. Regardless, few rivals can claim the kind of comfortable detail and excellent performance that the 63 brings to the blacktop.

The 2020 AMG GLC 63 starts at US$73,750 plus delivery.

Product Page: 2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 63

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