Taking the SUV concept further and faster than ever before
When most people think of an SUV they think of a chunky vehicle that rides high on the road, and which can manage a modicum of life off the road. Add in plenty of practical space for you and yours and all their kit, and you have a vehicle that is taking the motoring world by storm, and a long storm at that. But this SUV adds another dimension.
This is an SUV that can accelerate form rest to 62mph in only 3.8sec, a figure that would embarrass a considerable number of hot hatches. It can go from rest and pass 100mph in just 9sec on the way to 174mph. Given the high-ride size of the beast that absolutely incredible. Yet here it is, looking sleek and glossy, outside and in.
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Clearly, with such performance on tap from the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8, there isnâ€™t going to be much of the compromise you find on many SUVs, where on-road performance is detuned particularly in the suspension to allow a gentle ride on rougher ground.
2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S
Engine: 4.0-litre, V* petrol
Torque: 516lb ft
Gearbox: 9-spd automatic
Top speed: 174mph
Official economy: 26.4mpg
CO2, tax band: 244g/km, 37%
Fire up the V8 so it grumbles evilly to itself and you just know how this is going to go. Sure enough, give it a load of throttle and it fires you towards the horizon in a way you wonâ€™t find in any other SUV. It pulls well from low down but once itâ€™s past the 3000rpm mark it pulls with brutal force all the way to the 7000rpm limiter. It sounds tremendous, Wagner-like in its controlled violence, but if thatâ€™s not enough then another Â£1000 will get you the AMG sports exhaust system.
That level of blistering performance would be fatal in quite a few SUVs, but Mercedes-AMG has exerted an iron control on handling, thanks in part to standard air suspension. In default mode itâ€™s firm, holding the chassis flat through fast corners, but you can stiffen it up more if you want to go even harder.
You know what comes next â€“ yup, that makes the ride quality very firm. Itâ€™s not that bad but youâ€™re never in any doubt that youâ€™re in a vehicle focused entirely on going very fast on the road. Sure, itâ€™s an SUV with four-wheel drive, but listen to the low-profile tyre roar at speed from the big wheels and youâ€™ll not imagine for a moment that off-road is an option.
Apart from the tyre roar the cabin is delightfully quiet, apart from the muffled grumbling from the V8. Under cruising conditions itâ€™s peaceful and pleasant in the spacious and well-appointed cabin. There are some lovely sporty bits like the nappa covered sports seats that hold you tight and the flat-bottomed steering wheel complete with paddles, but comfort and luxury have not been forgotten.
This is a vehicle thatâ€™s practical enough to be used every day and to transport family and luggage about with ease. Yet itâ€™s also one that can blast away like a missile and haul you round twisting roads in a manner that at times defies belief.
At the limit it doesnâ€™t impress so much, certainly not as much as a Porsche Macan Turbo, but how many drivers are going to take a vehicle like this on a track day? If you do, be prepared for some gulping numbers, and weâ€™re not talking high speed. With 244g/km of CO2 and a claimed fuel figure of only 26.4mpg youâ€™re going to be romping through the numbers at an obscene rate.
But if that bothers you then youâ€™re probably not in the market for a Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S.