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There’s no doubt that the Mercedes-Benz palette is vast, offering up just about every type of vehicle you can imagine except a pick-up truck here in the USA. With such, slotted in the middle of all of the models, is the latest GLC compact luxury crossover. The GLC has many flavors, and this week I have the chance to explore the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43, which falls just below the GLC 63 that I experienced a few months ago.
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The 2020 GLC 43 is an AMG vehicle despite it not having the thrashing power of the brand’s hand-built BiTurbo V8. Instead, the GLC 43 makes do with a respected powertrain, a BiTurbo V6 good for 385 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque sent through a 9-speed automatic transmission before it gets directed to all four wheels.
Performance in the compact luxury crossover is well below the level of the GLC 63, which has an 84 horsepower and a 95 lb-ft of torque advantage, combined with what feels like a more sure-footed handling ability – possibly due to having more mass to move around. While either of the crossovers are not sports cars, they attempt to play a nice game of hiding their weight and higher center of gravity through the remarkable dynamics that Mercedes-AMG has instilled in their adaptive suspension systems. The setup nicely balances comfort and sport, with a dial-in to either side by way of selecting one of its five drive modes, which customize the dampers, steering feel, throttle positioning, exhaust sound, and transmission shift points. When you have all four large 21-inch wheels wrapped with beefy Continental performance tires dig into the pavement after selecting the Sport+ mode and putting the stability and traction control into a sport handling mode, the GLC 43 will hit 60 mph in about 4.7 seconds.
Fuel economy gets slightly better in the GLC 43 over the GLC 63. EPA estimates for the AMG GLC 43 come in at 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. Compare that to the GLC 63’s 17 mpg city and 22 mpg highway numbers.
On the inside of the new 2020 GLC 43, the interior fundamentally mimics that of its costlier GLC 63 sibling, which I talk about in that review in detail. Covering the highlights, the GLC 43 gets the latest MBUX infotainment unit with its high-center-mounted touchscreen and innovative customization features that Mercedes has championed. Such features combine a flow of luxury from the LED multi-color-configurable ambient lighting, configurable 12-inch gauge cluster, heavily bolstered but comfortable heated seats up front, and the intelligent voice control system that is prompted by just saying “Hey Mercedes”.
The only thing that gives me pause with the GLC 43 when compared with the GLC 63, other than the obvious power difference, is the styling of the GLC 43 appears to be missing some of the brawnier shapes of the GLC 63, which comes off as more of a GLC 300 being dolled up with larger wheels and a better grille up front. Here, I get what AMG has done to differentiate the two – make the powerful machine appear meaner.
To define the place of the GLC 43 one will have to compare it to the GLC 63 and even go downstream to see what extras you get over the non-AMG GLC 300, which is quite a bit of extra performance. However, the pricing structure of the AMG GLC 43 is where you may grapple with a tough choice. Though, considering the GLC 63 is about $14,000 more than the GLC 43 at the base price, the choice may come down to raw performance numbers – because both of these pocket rocket luxury crossovers proudly wear their AMG badging. Keep in mind, my AMG GLC 43 with the same equipment as my 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 test vehicle from a few months back has a price difference of about $9,500.
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 starts at a price of $59,500 but quickly rises to around $74,075 for my test vehicle, which is nearly loaded.
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