So how? Nice or not?” asked many friends after I told them I drove the new Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC Coupé from Kuala Lumpur to Desaru, Johor. After several hours in the car mulling over the questions I knew would come, I worked out a description: This car is for speed demons who eventually become mothers and don’t mind a bit more bang for their motoring buck when they step out to pick up some milk. It worked out very well for Mercedes-Benz that I was such a person.
Mercedes-Benz Malaysia launched the facelifted GLC Coupe in late 2019 and had to wait a full year to unveil the updated AMG version. The wait has been worth it, as this locally assembled, sexier and more powerful model offers a decent reduction from the price of its fully imported predecessor, taking into account the current sales tax exemption available until June 30.
The AMG designation has, of course, bestowed the car with enhanced performance. But before we get to that, there are design cues that set it apart — an AMG-specific radiator grille with vertical chrome-plated fins and multibeam LED headlamps, twin-spoke light-alloy wheels with AMG lettering and within, contrasting red stitching on the seats, matching red seat belts and a microfibre nappa-coated steering wheel. Under the bonnet, the powerful AMG engine is visually identifiable by its engine cover with red aluminium insert and lettering. The car I had for the day was white, but I daresay this exceptional athlete in a dark grey coating is the way to go.
Once seated and belted, I got to enjoy the car’s interior, which continues through with the sporty idiom of the exterior. The sports seats offer improved lateral support to both the driver and front passenger while the upholstery, in black Artico man-made leather or Dinamica microfibre, has a distinctive seat upholstery layout with red topstitching. The driver receives visual information via the 12.3in instrument cluster on the left and the 10.25in touchscreen display on the right — there are a lot of electronics at play here and plenty of information on the car’s progress. But if you feel like driving without the distractions, like I did, flip a switch and it’s all gone.
Although the GLC is undeniably the most handsome of the German marque’s SUV line-up, its sexy design is also its undoing, even more so for the coupé. The sloping roofline results in a sensuously sleek profile, but it cuts into the rear headroom, so at the back, things can feel a little claustrophobic even though it seemed more than adequate in the front two seats. For the record, I am not sure if things are very different in the non-coupé version, but spec sheet comparisons indicate a fairly minimal difference. The broad transmission tunnel also limits foot space for a third occupant seated in the middle back seat. So, rather than for ferrying the whole family, this may be the chariot better suited for children whose spatial needs fit within the confines of their car seats.
Since you’re getting this car for the performance and not practicality, limitations on space or stowage shouldn’t be too much of a concern. You could probably fit four to five trolley bags in the boot quite comfortably and the rear seats fold down for any quick Ikea runs, but I wouldn’t call the space large by any means. In terms of stowage, look out for parcel nets in the boot, front seat back map pockets, netted storage space in the front passenger footwell and a centre console storage bin, along with door pockets and cup holders. All good, but we’ve seen better.
But whatever this car lacks in cup holders or cabin space, it more than makes up for when the pedal is depressed and it’s time to hit the road. Once we passed the heavy traffic heading out of Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s headquarters in Puchong, Selangor, the car — an easy, lightweight performer despite its substantial weight in tiring stop-and-go traffic — took on the smooth paths of asphalt leading south of the peninsula and then onwards to the east coast with remarkable ease.
Powered by a 3-litre twin-turbocharged V6 engine that produces 520Nm of torque between 2,500rpm and 5,000rpm, this car is delightfully rowdy when pushed. Equipped with a nine-speed AMG speedshift TCT 9G automatic gearbox — the transmission is as smooth as a hot knife through butter — and the 4Matic all-wheel drive, the GLC 43 Coupé gets from zero to 100kph in an impressive 4.9 seconds, with its top speed electronically pegged at 250kph.
Because of the thunderstorms that seem to play a starring role almost every afternoon these days, I couldn’t go as fast as I would have liked, or for as long, on the drive. But the time I had more than provided a teaser of the raw power that this car is capable of, not to mention how easy it is to drive. Soon enough, I grew to really enjoy the superior handling (signature Mercedes-Benz) and manoeuvrability, the added elevation that enhances visibility while keeping the centre of gravity close to the ground and how effortless it was to park (thanks to the 360° camera). These are important considerations for day-to-day use, which this car is also intended for. I only managed to use three of the car’s five drive programmes — slippery for the torrential rain, comfort and sport — but owners can really individualise the transmission, suspension and steering functions to their unique needs.
Personalisation, you say? The marque’s proprietary MBUX infotainment system further underlines the car’s viability for everyday use and establishes an even closer connection between vehicle, driver and passengers. Whether it is operated with the touchpad or Touch Control buttons on the steering wheel, by voice or gesture control, the operating system of the GLC 43 4MATIC Coupé is versatile and flexible. Just say “Hey Mercedes” to activate the interactive voice assistant, which works more and more intuitively with continued use. It played music for me — truly, is there driving music better than that written by Queen? — and even found a location for the navigation system, with zero issues relating to accent or intonation.
Nett nett: Should you buy this? Honestly, there are other cars that may strike you as being more value for money or boast more generous cabin proportions. But the decision to purchase a car like an AMG is made by the heart, not the mind. So, if the budget is willing, our take is a resounding yes.
The Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC Coupé is available for RM498,722.77 at all authorised dealers. See here for details or to book a test drive.