If you have ever driven a performance or a sports car on our bumpy uneven Indian roads, being any of the M cars from BMW, or AMG’s ‘63’ models or even something like a Nissan GT-R you would most definitely be the rudest and angriest person in any given room. You see most of these performance cars are designed for well designed and paved roads which can manage the stiff suspension setups and the large amount power on tap is usable on their long and not so densely populated highways.
But if you bring them to India, driving them every day with their temperamental throttles and stiff rides will drive you insane. You will perpetually be in a state that even a smiling ‘Hi’ from a friend or colleague will make you want to punch them in the face or want to run head-first into a wall just in the hope that the aching head will mask the pain from the shattered spine.
Is there a solution?
The same people who make these cars have realised this can be problematic in some regions. Which is why they decided to make fast… but not too fast, stiff but supple riding cars which are more affordable and won't make you want to head-butt the wall every day. Mercedes’s performance division – AMG’s solution comes in the form of their ‘43’ moniker which consists of their V6 powered cars like the C-Class, GLC, GLE and the SLC models. These ‘AMG 43’ are designed to sit below the high-performance twin-turbo V8 powered AMG 63s and are meant to be easier to live with every day.
The AMG 43 range of vehicles come with sportier styling and a tauter suspension set up and the engine has been further refined and made to squeeze out more grunt. But are they any good is what needed to be further investigated. While I have driven the C 43 and the SLC 43 previously, I called upon what looks like the oddest one of the lot… the GLC 43 4Matic Coupe.
So based on the standard GLC-Class, the GLC 43 AMG offered in India comes in the Coupe form as a four-door, high riding model with a sloping roofline with big wheels and high ground clearance. But is it or is it not an SUV? As the acronym stands for “Sports Utility Vehicle” let’s begin with the first bit.
It is Sporty?
The Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe is powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine mated to a 9-speed automatic gearbox. You get about 367hp on tap and 570Nm of torque which is sent to the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. At full chat, it will do 250kmph because it is tamed electronically and off the line, it's no slouch either. 0-100 kmph takes a claimed 4.9 seconds, considering it weighs around two tonnes and that is quite impressive. The GLC 43 is also equipped with air suspension with adjustable ride height. While the performance may not match up to proper AMG standards, driving in Indian road conditions, the GLC 43 felt at home and more than adequate.
With four predetermined drive modes to select from, ‘Sport’ is where the GLC seems most relaxed and balanced. However, fully loaded with occupants, ‘Comfort’ is probably the way to go as the throttle is relaxed and the suspension is in its most pliant setting. ‘Sport+’ should be reserved for when you can push the vehicle on a long stretch of empty roads. Being a high riding vehicle with large tyres, small bumps and medium-sized potholes are easily flattened. In comfort and sport, you don’t feel them. But in Sport+ it is quite evident as everything firms up, but not spine braking like an all-out sports car. Cornering, the GLC takes them mostly flat, but the steering could be a little livelier. Stopping power from the large discs is more than adequate offering good pedal feedback.
The GLC 43 also comes with an ‘Eco’ mode which would seem like it is tuned to allow you to save fuel by limiting the boost, throttle response and slower shifts from the gearbox. But to be honest, it doesn't help much thanks to its gluttony V6. What doesn’t help is the sound from the exhaust (although quite muted) will make you want to smash your right foot to the floor most of the time.
Is it Utilitarian?
Now to address that second ‘Utility’ part of the acronym, the standard GLC offers decent cabin space with decent leg, knee, elbow and headroom comfortable for no more than four occupants. What I did notice is that the transmission tunnel in the driver’s footwell is actually quite wide, and it can be a little annoying as you don’t have much space for your left foot. And then we come to the boot space or its lack thereof. The regular GLC comes with a fairly large boot. But with the sloping roof of the coupe, it eats nearly all of the space. On an airport pick up trip I made with the GLC 43 Coupe, I was able to get more luggage in the passenger compartment with three passengers and only one single overnighter in the boot, mostly because of the large spare wheel, which is a space saver. I could have left the spare at home, but that’s really not a choice I should have to make.
Additionally, the cabin is very Mercedes like. The dashboard and the centre console are quite similar to the standard GLC which doesn’t make you feel any more special. The problem is that this GLC has not been given the same refreshing update the C-Class received late last year. Also, it isn’t equipped with the optional sporty Alcantara wrapped AMG steering wheel which is a must should you feel like buying the GLC 43. It feels so good in your hands that I would buy and put it in my own car if I could. Although there is a new updated model on its way to India soon, as of now, this will have to do. Being an older model, the GLC 43 still comes with the COMMAND system which is great in its own right and you can even browse the internet like on a desktop if you wish to, but it does show its age and it doesn’t get Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. When it comes to pacifying you, the seats are supremely comfortable and supportive, irrespective if you’re the driver, a passenger or even a rear passenger.
The final word
To be completely honest, I’m not an advocate for the modern SUV trend, and while some find the SUVs with sloping rooflines attractive it's something I just can’t seem to wrap my head around. But when considering a sporty vehicle for Indian conditions, the performance the GLC 43 AMG delivers is actually ideal for Indian roads. Driving it for about a week, I can safely say I thoroughly enjoyed it. But only if we can gloss over that trip to the airport of course.
While it's not very economical as it's heavy and the twin-turbo V6 engine devoured fuel at a laughable rate, I thoroughly enjoyed assisting with my right foot. In regards to the exhaust note, I can’t help but feel that it could be a little more exciting which could elevate it to the point where it makes you feel a bit more special since the cabin is pretty much standard.
The styling, in my books, is a bit questionable in profile and the rear, which goes for all coupe-styled SUVs because they make as much sense as sacrificing your queen for a pawn. But it's not something that you would lose in a crowd that’s for sure. The GLC in its 43 AMG guise is sporty, but it's not a car, therefore id like to assume its more of a “Sports Vehicle” rather than a “Sports Car” but not very utilitarian, but which sports car is?
While in terms of performance, it ticks all the right boxes, economical, the GLC 43 AMG definitely is not. Although in an enthusiast’s mind, ‘red seat belts’ equates to ‘racecar’ the GLC is more of an everyday family cruiser that allows some slack on the leash, but it doesn’t let you unleash entirely. And if that’s what you’re after, why look elsewhere?
2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe – Technical Specifications
Engine: 2,996cc, V6, Twin-turbocharged, 24-valves
Power: 1367hp @ 5,500-6,000 rpm
Torque: 430Nm @ 2,500-4,500 rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic / All-wheel drive
Acceleration (0-100): 4.9 seconds
Dimensions (LxWxh): 4,728 x 2,096 x 1,587 mm
Price of variant tested: Rs. 78 lakh (ex-showroom).