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2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC63 Preview

18Mercedes-AMG_GLC63-S_OEM_25.jpg 2018 Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S | Manufacturer image

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Competes with: Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, Porsche Macan Turbo

Looks like: The GLC-Class with dialed-up ground effects

Drivetrain: 469- or 503-horsepower, turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 with nine-speed automatic transmission; all-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Early 2018

Mercedes-Benz fans saw this a mile away. Less than two years after the automaker unveiled the new GLC-Class SUV, the lineup’s pavement-slaying AMG GLC63 variant will debut at next week’s 2017 New York International Auto Show. Slotting above the AMG GLC43 that heretofore topped the GLC’s performance pyramid, the GLC63 boasts a turbocharged V-8 with up to 503 horsepower.

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The GLC63 will come in the GLC-Class’ SUV and “coupe” variants, the latter a fastback adaptation with a plunging roofline past the B-pillar. (It’s still a four-door SUV, but Mercedes is a leading offender in coupeifying things that aren’t coupes.) Both body styles hit dealers in early 2018.

Exterior

Unlike the three-portal bumper on the GLC43, the GLC63 wears a single ribbon of curling framework that spans the nose, fanning out near the fenders for a kayak-paddle effect. It’s a familiar theme across Mercedes’ current AMG ’63s, but rather than the twin crossbars on most of them, the GLC63’s grille has prominent vertical bars. The tail, meanwhile, sports quad tailpipe openings — burlier-looking ones than you see on the GLC43 — and a pronounced air diffuser. Nineteen-inch alloy wheels are standard; 20-inch alloy or 21-inch forged wheels are available.

Interior

The cabin has fewer changes versus lesser GLC-Class SUVs. Bolstered sport seats and a flat-bottom steering wheel mimic those in the GLC43; a unique leather-and-microfiber steering wheel is optional. A vinyl-wrapped dashboard and microfiber-and-vinyl upholstery is standard. Among the options are Nappa leather upholstery and performance seats with even more bolstering.

Under the Hood

While the GLC43 has pricing and power to match the Audi SQ5 and BMW X4 M40i, the GLC63’s output puts it into rare territory as smallish SUVs go. The ’63 employs a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 that’s good for 469 hp and 479 pounds-feet of torque for both GLC63 body styles. If superfluity is your thing, the GLC coupe comes in a GLC63 “S” variant with 503 hp and 516 pounds-feet of torque.

Power hits the ground through a nine-speed, multiclutch automatic transmission and rear-biased all-wheel drive. Mercedes says the GLC63 hits 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds — a few tenths quicker than its larger sibling, the 550-hp GLE63 — while the GLC63 S scorches the mark in 3.7 seconds. That puts the GLC63 well ahead of its most direct competitor, the Porsche Macan Turbo.

Drivers can select between three driving modes that alter various drivetrain, suspension, steering and stability control settings, with a mix-and-match Individual mode to choose your own. The GLC63 coupe has an additional mode, Race, with even sportier settings. Other hardware reads like a laundry list of performance components: variable-ratio (not just variable-assist) steering, a mechanical limited-slip rear differential (electronic on the GLC63 S) and an air-spring suspension with adaptive shock absorbers and a multi-link rear setup that’s borrowed from the AMG E63 S.

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