AT this point of time, we can expect Mercedes-Benz Malaysia to score another record-breaking sales for last year, given that they put down a strong growth for the third quarter over previous years.
The leading brand of premium cars in Malaysia also offers pretty much every model it has on sale globally, from baseline ones to the ultra-premium Maybach and full-fledged hotrods of AMG.
For the GLC-Class range, there’s the basic GLC 200, all the way up to the recently-launched AMG GLC 63 S.
The GLC 200 is nice with excellent build quality and materials, but it is rather “underspec’ed”.
The AMG GLC 63 S, on the other hand, is great if you have the money, but just how many times can you extract its full potential?
Enter the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC, a contender that slots like in the middle of the range. Well yes, there’s four variants of the non-Coupe GLC here in Malaysia and this sits above the GLC 250 4MATIC.
But the AMG GLC 43 offers a performance that is not too far off the GLC 63 S for a lot less money — about half the price of the latter.
Some AMG fanatics believe that the “43” variants (like the C 43 and GLC 43) are not real AMGs. Let me tell you, these “43”-rated Mercs are serious machines that can bite.
Their engines may not be hand-assembled and signed by the fellows in Affalterbach, but the M276 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 firepower has been tuned to push out a respectable 362hp and 520Nm of torque.
Transmission is a 9G-TRONIC (9-speed) automatic unit, transferring engine output to all four wheels via the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system.
The GLC 43 can be distinguished by its AMG-rated bits and pieces like the AMG Line styling package, 21-inch AMG two-tone five-twin-spoke alloy wheels, front spoiler lip, AMG floor mats, AMG sports suspension and AMG Dynamic Select.
The car does look aggressive, especially with bright colours as the vents and curves are well-displayed.
In the cabin, black Artico man-made leather with Dinamice microfibre upholstery can be found, topped with piano black and aluminium trim, Designo red seatbelts, powered front seats with memory function, panoramic sunroof ambient lighting and Thermotronic dual-zone climate control system.
To me, the interior combines Mercedes’ renowned luxurious construction with interesting racy details; take the red seatbelts and supportive sports seats for example.
Infotainment is served by a COMAND Online with touchpad, an 8.4-inch display and the lovely 590watt Burmester Sound System with 13 speakers.
The Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 operates like a normal GLC or any other mid-sized sports utility vehicle (SUV), at least when stationary. It has intuitive controls, is fairly easy to manoeuvre and practical.
There’s plenty of cubby spaces, USB ports and decently spacious both for front and rear passengers.
Oh, have I told you that the rear seats are surprisingly comfortable too? Marginally more comfortable than the front seats.
But it’s when you really get going that you start to notice that the GLC 43 is not something a typical housewife drives to Jaya Grocer. The engine fires up with deep bass into the cabin and accelerates like a smooth V6 would do.
The GLC 43 is simply rapid. It’s got endless power throughout the rev range, an impression caused by the peak 520Nm twisting force set to arrive from 2,500rpm onwards.
Just apply some pressure with your right foot, the car would thrust you few hundred metres forward in no time.
This is partly aided by the quick 9G-TRONIC transmission. The rev needle just jumps between gearshifts, almost like a dual-clutch system, I must say.
Nought to 100kph can be achieved in just 4.9 seconds, which may sound unbelievable until you drive it.
Apart from the super-capable engine and gearbox, the AMG Dynamic Select is a defining item in the GLC 43 as well.
Having the ability to alter the engine, transmission and steering responses gives the car different personalities for different occasions.
The sports suspension does
an incredible job in ensuring that the driver gets optimal confidence in any driving condition. Remember, this is a 1,845kg SUV with a sports car pace.
Sport mode is my favourite as it really suits the GLC 43’s character. Sport Plus mode feels a little too stiff for our roads. It provides superb body control, but can be bone-shattering on road imperfections.
Whatever it is, the GLC 43 is an agile vehicle and the 31:69 front-rear torque split emphasises its sporty handling. The steering was quite numb, but has a healthy amount of weight to it.
Also interesting to see are the AMG gizmos on the multi-info display, like the G-ball and lap timer. Yes, a lap timer in a Mercedes SUV.
The only drawbacks of the GLC 43 would be the lack of active safety features like the blind-spot monitoring system and lane-keeping assist, considering that this car is priced at close to half a million ringgit.
Another thing is the ride that could be harsh for some drivers, even in “comfort” mode. I guess the active suspension is designed primarily for smooth European roads.
Not to forget, it rides on low profile 40-series (front) and 35-series tyres on 21-inch wheels.
The Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC is a practical mid-size premium SUV that packs serious usable performance. It is the sweet spot in the GLC-Class range.
The GLC 43 is sold from RM471,888 on the road without insurance.
In the Dec 30, 2018 edition of Cars, Bikes and Trucks, text from a previous article was erroneously retained in the last five paragraphs of the Ferrari GTC4Lusso review. The error is much regretted.