2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S Coupe New Dad Review: When Lifted Hot Hatch Meets Muscle Car, Fathers Win
Packing a 500-hp V8 with a delightfully beefy torque curve into a tall AWD hatchback, it turns out, creates a great car for dads who love speed.
finally did it: I'm a dad. The funny thing is, I've always owned dad cars, even before I needed to. Owning anything with less than four doors never made much sense, which is how I ended up with a stable of souped-up grandpa cars from the Sixties and Seventies. Now that I'm a father, the '74 Oldsmobile sedan I brought my wife and son home from the hospital in seems a bit dated. And that, my friends, is how I found myself on this quest to find the perfect new dad car. The most recent contestant: the 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S Coupe.
2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S Coupe: By the Numbers
- Base Price (Price as Tested): $80,750 ($94,195)
- Powertrain: 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, 503-horsepower, 516 pound-feet of torque; nine-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive
- EPA Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city; 22 mpg highway
- 0-60 MPH: 3.8 seconds
- Top Speed: 155 mph
- Random fact: Along with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio and the Porsche Macan Turbo, the Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S Coupe is one of the fastest-accelerating SUVs available in North America, behind the Lamborghini Urus and the all-powerful Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
The GLC63 S Coupe is one helluva family truckster. It has voluminous passenger space, a deep, flat box-shaped cargo area—and, oh yeah, gobs and gobs of speed limit-rending power. A crossover that's essentially a lifted four-door hatchback, this speedy pinnacle of the GLC-Class stable cranks out 516 pound-feet of torque from a not-far-above-idle 1,750 rpm all the way to 6,250 rpm. The guttural Teutonic howl it emits when you mash the loud pedal to the floor is enough to leave any speed-addicted dad clamoring for more, over and over again...as his wife or husband begs for the sweet release of a pedestrian-only existence.
It's not surprising that Mercedes-AMG has been able to take the muscle car concept—smallish car, big, noisy V8 power—and execute it to a level of perfection that bean-counting Detroit manufacturers were never able to pull off. Of course it stood to reason that the sort of blistering power and big-wheeled, huge-braked performance styling seen on cars like the AMG E-Class would migrate over to Mercedes's SUV lineup. And being a crossover and all, the GLC63 S is a little sneaky about its performance.
But you'll need at least 82 big ones to get behind the wheel of one of these things, so the Shangri-La of the practical-fast-covert nexus won't be attainable for most people. Then again, if you're already looking at the Porsche Macan, Jaguar I-Pace, BMW X6 M, or others of that ilk, the GLC63's higher-than-the-average-household-income sticker price probably won't even phase you.
Packing both a full-on race mode and plenty of space in the back for a stroller, all of junior's bulky gear, and a week's worth of groceries, the GLC63 S fits neatly into the "do-everything" category of luxury performance vehicles. Cargo volume with the rear seats up is only 19 cubic feet, but the way it's laid out—with depth and width taking precedence over height—makes it easy to pile things in without stacking, which would cause that stuff to fall out when the rear hatch was opened. It had enough room to accommodate my family of three, including baby and camping gear, during a weekend trip to the mountains. With the rear seats down, cargo volume jumps to a generous 56.5 feet, which—if you're me—means that you can use this thing to go pick up a used small block you scored on Craigslist for $150. If you're most other people, you can handle big Costco and Home Depot runs with ease (sans rear seat passengers, at least).
The latch child safety seat anchors are a snap to use, and this being a Mercedes, the GLC63 is available with a host of active safety features. But the good ones—active blind spot monitoring, cross traffic assist that incorporates the automatic braking system to help avoid both rear-end collisions and cross-traffic crashes, automatic braking with pedestrian detection, active lane keeping, and speed limit assist—are costly additions to the base price, as those features all come in the $2,250 driver assistance package. But that's hardly the only four-digit option on the list; the advanced lighting package, which includes active LED lighting and adaptive high beams, adds another $1,050, and another package that includes active parking assist and 360 surround view cameras, adds $1,290.
It all pays off in the end, though, both because Mercedes' safety technology works well, and because the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named the GLC crossover a Top Safety Pick +. The GLC also has a five-star federal crash safety rating. All music to the family man's ears, regardless of the price.
If there was one thing I found troubling about the GLC63, it was its electronics, which were a little wonky. The interior layout and displays were gorgeous, but when it came time to operate them, little hiccups here and there made it unpleasant at times. For starters, the trackpad and dial infotainment controllers that were so easy to use on the much larger S-Class Cabriolet seemed crammed into a smaller space on the GLC. I kept bumping the dial with my hand, which resulted in inadvertent changes to things I'd rather not have changed while driving. (No one listening to a serene Beethoven piano sonata wants to be suddenly bombarded by The Backstreet Boys when a dumb thumb brings up the '90s pop station.)
The GLC, although a Mercedes, and a bit expensive looking, is still a sleeper of sorts. Even though it has nice proportions for a crossover—including, notably, a suitably long snout to denote its performance pedigree—its very shape is unassuming, a wolf in sheep's clothing. You could be a stoplight drag-racing king and your would-be competitors won't even see it coming. In short, this may be the perfect family car for the go-fast dad...provided your better half doesn't threaten you with divorce every time you inadvertently rocket past 100 mph on a freeway on-ramp.