Review update: The 2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43 SUV "nose" the right spice level

These are halcyon days for fleet-footed crossover SUVs. 

Saucy ‘utes like the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 43 AMG hardly look like they’re just as quick as their smaller siblings but stopwatches don’t lie. In the example above, Mercedes says the GLC43 crossover takes just 4.7 seconds from 0-60 mph compared to the C43 sedan’s time of 4.5 seconds. Two-tenths of a second is about how long it takes for you to double-tap the start/stop button on your phone’s stopwatch. (Go ahead and give it a try, I’ll wait here. Done? Good.) That difference is meaningless in the real world, innit?

I spent a week with the GLC43 AMG. I’ve driven both the AMG GLC 63 models—regular and sssspicier “S”—and the GLC 300, which turned a little off-roady for its 2020 makeover. The GLC Class earned a 6.8 TCC Rating, skewed toward the base model that more people will buy. 

The GLC 43 isn’t the goldilocks of the lineup, but it is good. Here’s what I found out. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43

Hit: It’s not all 6s

In the Mercedes-Benz universe, AMG is split between premium channels and basic cable. Specifically, for the GLC, the GLC63 is Cinemax after midnight and the GLC 43 is reruns of “Family Guy.” The GLC 43 has ‘tude—362 horsepower to be precise. Even compared to the other “milder” AMGs, specifically the inline-6 and starter-generator combos found in the AMG 53 models, the GLC 43’s V-6 is a little coarser. That’s good; from the brappy exhaust to the spunky turbos that thrust forward at 3,000 rpm, the GLC 43 has a chip. It shows. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43

Miss: Biting brakes

The GLC 43 stops harder than conversation after an off-color joke at a daycare. Compared to the GLC 300, the AMG version gets bigger rotors on the front (14.2 inches vs. 13.5 inches) and wider tires. Both directly impact braking performance and grip and double-down on the GLC 43’s already-short brake pedal travel. Filtered down to the real world? A heavy right foot isn’t rewarded on the brake pedal—even if it is on the accelerator pedal. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43

Hit: Beaucoup bolsters

Compared to the other medium-spice small crossover, the 2020 BMW X3 M40i, the GLC 43’s seats are snugger and more supportive when hauling class. The $2,500 optional AMG sport seats go further. The look-at-me red seat belts, however? Ehhh… (Black belts are a no-cost swap, thankfully.)

2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43

2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43

2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43

Miss: Extras that are wheely easy to miss

Our $70,110 tester was loaded with options that blended into the background. A steering wheel-mounted drive selector knob with small digital screens ($400) was nice but also used twice. (There’s a redundant rocker switch on the center console that comes standard.) AMG performance pages ($250) were used once. (Track days may be a fun trick for the GLC43, but shaving tenths down on lap times seems unlikely.) And the most noticeable part of the AMG Night Package ($750) was black exhaust tips that could be easily missed. 

2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43

Hit: Package, price, and perception

The 2020 GLC 300’s right turn off-road is a good one—it’s a likable crossover again. The GLC 43 stays planted on the pavement, and that’s just fine, too. For about $70,000, the GLC 43 is hardly cheap but it stays out of the GLC 63’s stratosphere and looks nearly identical. The GLC 43 is menacing, sharp, planted, and quick. It fulfills the mission of looking the part and costing less. The GLC 63’s V-8 is bonkers—and also barely usable. Smart money? That’s the GLC 43. 


2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC 43

Base price: $60,495, including destination

Price as tested: $70,110

Drivetrain: 362-horsepower, 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6; 9-speed automatic; all-wheel drive

EPA fuel economy: 18/24/21 mpg

The hits: Quick V-6, planted ride, all the looks

The misses: Stiff brakes, some extras get lost.

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