By Kingsley Wijayasinha
The Nation Weekend
Luxury crossovers have gained tremendous popularity in recent decades as they responded to the changing lifestyles of consumers.
While markets like the United States have for years seen passenger cars increasingly lose out to the more versatile lifestyle vehicles, the trend is now catching up in Thailand though not yet to the same degree.
Mercedes-Benz is the current leader in the Thai luxury car market, and the company has a lot to offer in this segment. The German automaker assembles a large number of models at the Thonburi Automotive Assembly Plant (TAAP) in Samut Prakarn, including the GLC 43 4MATIC that is sold under the Mercedes-AMG performance sub-brand.
With local assembly, Mercedes has been able to lower retail pricing significantly when compared to equivalent imports. With the GLC 43, the price tag is Bt4.73 million.
The GLC is the first AMG model in the midsize SUV segment, and one of a new breed of crossovers that offer both the versatility of SUVs and the road dynamics of passenger cars. Unfortunately, off-roading isn’t something you want to do in this type of vehicle.
Compared to the standard GLC, the GLC 43 gets special AMG treatment for both the exterior and interior. Apart from the front and rear AMG aprons, aluminium side steps and sports exhaust, it also carries 21-inch alloy wheels with low-profile tyres that are designed for sporty, rather than rugged, driving.
The cabin features sports seats with red seatbelts, carbon fibre trim and a flat-bottomed multi-function steering wheel. There’s enough space for the occupants and the materials are top-notch, but don’t expect as much luggage space as found in conventional SUVs – due to the rear-end design.
You get a full infotainment package, including a Burmester sound system that sounds really good, particularly at the mid- and high-frequency ranges.
What many people love best about the GLC 43 is the sheer driving performance. The same 3.0-litre bi-turbo V6 used in the C 43 Coupe produces 367 horsepower and 520Nm of torque to propel it from 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds. That’s truly sportscar performance.
The power is transmitted to all wheels via a sporty nine-speed automatic and the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, which sends 31 per cent of forces to the front wheels and 69 per cent to the rear.
The AMG DYNAMIC SELECT switch allows you to choose from five drive programmes, and AMG RIDE CONTROL lets drivers choose from three damping adjustments.
The AMG-tuned gearbox offers lots of fun, with a double-declutching function during downshifts. When the Sport Plus mode is selected, shift times are shorter and crisper. There are shift paddles for sporty driving, and the transmission stays in the selected gear and doesn’t shift up even when the maximum engine speed is reached.
The variable ratio steering in the GLC 43 is sharper than you’d think during the first half-turn. It gives the GLC 43 lots of nimbleness when driving in the city. The steering weight is also nice, both at low and high speeds.
The front 4-link and rear 5-link suspension is based on AIR BODY CONTROL, and provides a nice ride quality along with loads of grip on the road when working with its all-wheel-drive system. It’s pretty easy to drive the GLC 43 fast, despite its weight and size, thanks to serious AMG tuning.
Stopping power for the 1.8-tonne GLC 43 comes from 360mm perforated discs up front with 4-piston calipers, plus 320mm discs at the rear.
There’s a long list of safety features, as well as Distance Pilot DISTRONIC that maintains a safe distance when running with cruise control and Active Parking Assist.
It’s true that the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC may not be a capable off-roader that’s going to wade through rivers in the wild – look elsewhere if you need that.
But for a crossover for use in the city and for driving upcountry, it is surely one of the sportiest you can get, and with pretty good pricing too.
Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC Coupe specs
Engine: V6 24-valve with twin turbochargers
Bore and stroke: 88.2x82.1mm
Compression ratio: n/a
Max power: 367ps/5,500-6,000rpm
Max torque: 520Nm/2,500-4,500rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic
0-100kmh: 4.9 secs
Top speed: 250 km/h
Average fuel economy: 12.0 km/litre
Average CO2: 189g/km
Suspension (f/r): multi-link/multi-link
Steering: powered rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 12.1 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/vented disc
Track (f/r): n/a
Weight: 1,845 kgs
Wheels: 21-inch alloy
Tires: 255/4- ZR21 (front), 285/35 ZR21 (rear)
Fuel tank capacity: 66 litres
Price: Bt4.73 million
Distributor: Mercedes-Benz (Thailand) Ltd