2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 first drive review

We’ve been down this road before—well, not literally, as this particular stretch of Germany’s Baden-Württemburg state isn’t exactly bristling with tourists. But there’s a distinct familiarity to the Mercedes-AMG GLC43.

After all, the recipe is tried-and-true for Mercedes. The brand is keen to spread its Affalterbach skunk works’ magic to its entire lineup with the goal of offering every buyer an AMG of some sort, but instead of shooting for the stars with only big V-8s, AMG is now shoehorning its 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 into just about everything in the lineup. The GLC43 is the latest to get this motor, which can be found in the C43 and the E43 and a few others.

In those models, it’s something of a mid-level before you work your way up to the more bonkers 63s, which is headed to the GLC63 in the future. And that’s just fine, because this compact crossover isn’t designed to steal market share from the Porsche Macan Turbo or the upcoming BMW X3 M and Jaguar F-Pace SVR.

Fitted here, the V-6 delivers 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque, the latter coming on at a predictably low 2,000 rpm. Up until now, the GLC lineup in the United States has been restricted to a 2.0-liter turbo-4, which is adequate but not heart-pounding. But Mercedes watched Audi sell more 354-hp SQ5s than anyone ever expected and it has seen Jaguar jump into the fray with its 380-pony F-Pace S. Clearly, compact crossover buyers want some zip and they’re willing to pay upwards of $50,000 for it. (The GLC43 stickers for $55,825.)

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That V-6 cuts the 0-60 mph sprint by about a second and a half over the GLC300, bringing the figure to a zippy 4.8 seconds.

The V-6 is mated exclusively to all-wheel drive and it sends power to each corner via a 9-speed automatic with a sport mode and paddles mounted to the steering wheel. Underneath, an air suspension can be adjusted from pillowy to fairly firm thanks to its own AMG calibration. Unlike the standard GLC300, the 43’s all-wheel-drive system has been tweaked to send nearly three-quarters of available power to the rear axle under normal driving conditions.

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