2025 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S E Performance: Tech Heaven

Strong points
  • Top-flight performance
  • Stunning agility and poise
  • Superb fit and finish
  • Reasonable fuel economy
Weak points
  • Limited cargo room
  • Tight sport seats
  • Heavy weight
  • Pricing and reliability TBD
Full report

Barcelona, Spain—Mercedes-AMG’s electrification efforts continue with the GLC 63 S E Performance, a top-flight compact luxury SUV with technology unlike any other in the segment. This one is not about setting fuel economy benchmarks but rather raising the bar for performance.

The automaker is also leveraging a few marvels of engineering proven in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team's Formula 1 race cars. If you think it’s just a marketing ploy, the presentation we attended made it clear how far hybrid technology can elevate a road vehicle’s potential.

Gas and Electric Working in Harmony

The cream of the GLC crop is full of advanced and intricate systems, obviously starting under the hood. The turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine is cranked up to 469 horsepower, making it the most powerful series-produced four-cylinder in the world.

Photo: Julien Amado

Powered by the 48-volt on-board system, the F1-derived electric turbocharger operates at speeds of up to 175,000 rpm, which enables a very high air flow rate. A 1.6-inch thin electric motor is integrated directly on the turbocharger shaft between the turbine wheel on the exhaust side and the compressor wheel on the intake side. The new form of turbocharging guarantees particularly spontaneous response across the entire rpm range, thus eliminating turbo lag.

Controlling the engine’s power is an AMG Performance 4MATIC+ all-wheel drive system working together with a nine-speed transmission in which a wet start-off clutch replaces the torque converter. It reduces weight and ensures extremely short shift times, the company explains.

Photo: Julien Amado

The GLC 63 S E Performance also uses a rear electric motor with a two-speed transmission and limited-slip differential. Energy comes from a 6.1kWh battery with F1-derived cooling technology. Said battery is always within a consistent, optimum operating temperature window averaging 45 degrees Celsius, no matter how often it is charged or discharged. 

Combined system output is 671 horsepower along with 752 lb-ft. of torque—amazing numbers, for sure, but you have to remember that this vehicle tips the scales at 2,310 kg. Oh, and by the way, the engine torque can be allocated continuously and as required from a 50/50 split up to 100 percent to the rear.

So High-Tech

Naturally, the chassis and drivetrain have not been overlooked—there’s plenty of high-tech stuff going on there, as well. In addition to a sophisticated AWD system, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S E Performance features an AMG RIDE CONTROL steel spring suspension with four-wheel adaptive damping that adapts to road conditions and driving styles in real time, not to mention the various drive modes available ("Comfort," "Sport" and "Sport+").

Photo: Julien Amado

Instead of conventional, solid anti-roll bars, the active roll stabilization system compensates body movements electromechanically. For this purpose, the anti-roll bars on the front and rear axles are divided into two parts with an electromechanical actuator in between. When the road surface is uneven or the driving style is moderate, the actuator actively separates the stabilizer halves, which improves ride quality. The halves join together and are twisted against each other during dynamic driving for reduced body roll and more precise handling.

As if that wasn’t enough, the three-stage AMG speed-sensitive steering system features a variable steering geometry ratio that adapts to the selected drive mode. Active rear-axle steering is also equipped as standard, operating with a maximum steering angle of 2.5 degrees.

Let’s Go!

When the time came to put the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S E Performance to the test, the first thing we noticed was the disappointing amount of cargo space resulting from the position of the electric motor and the battery—470 litres in the trunk and 1,530 litres with the rear seats folded. Up front, the layout is typical Mercedes-Benz design with a tall and bulky centre console capped by a large centre display. The wide array of buttons on the steering wheel and the numerous infotainment menus require some getting used to.  

Photo: Julien Amado

The available sport seats are tight and relatively firm, especially the seatbacks. They’re not uncomfortable, but they won’t suit drivers of all shapes and sizes on long trips, that’s for sure. Setting the vehicle in EV mode, we appreciated the quiet operation and generous torque from the electric motor when driving around town.

Once on the open road, the gasoline engine kicked in. With gentle use of the throttle and a cruising speed of 80-90 km/h, our tester achieved 8.9 L/100 km, which is pretty good for an SUV that weighs 2.3 tons. In Comfort mode, the ride felt smooth and pleasant. Granted, the immaculate pavement in Spain is no reflection of Canadian roads.

Later, we took on some super twisty roads with a speed limit of 90 km/h that’s almost impossible to exceed. The high-performance GLC displayed stunning agility and poise, maintaining its line until the massive weight started to produce understeer. The laws of physics are tough to beat, you know, even with four-wheel active steering. Meanwhile, the brakes worked superbly, showing little to no fade despite constant and repeated use.

Photo: Julien Amado

Acceleration and passing manoeuvres are electrifying to say the least. Sprinting from 0-100 km/h takes a mere 3.5 seconds. But that can be a problem: we had to keep a constant eye on the speedometer to avoid getting a ticket. The transmission delivers rapid shifts in Sport+ mode when using the paddle shifters, but proves a tiny bit hesitant in more laid-back driving conditions with Comfort mode turned on. 

How Much?

Unlike the GLC 43, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S E Performance will arrive in Canada in the fall of 2024 as a 2025 model. Pricing is not specified at the moment but will likely top $100,000—and skyrocket as you start to add various options and packages.

Photo: Julien Amado

We cannot end this first-drive review without a word on reliability. Similar to other Mercedes vehicles featuring these fancy and cutting-edge technologies (electric turbocharger, electric motor with two-speed transmission, active roll bars, adaptive suspension and more), the chances that something will fail sooner or later are significantly increased.

Our advice is to thread lightly, and go with leasing over buying, allowing time for AMG to prove how durable and dependable its new performance hybrids can be.

Watch: 2024 Mercedes-AMG EQE 4Matic+ Review

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