The muscle vehicle concept started out pretty simply: shoe horn the optional big engine from a mainstream full-size sedan into a much lighter, smaller intermediate and let the tire-burning hoonanigans start. Not muscly enough? Attempt souping up said big-block or figure out a way to jam it into an even smaller vehicle.
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Where this modern ute really does its best impression is when you drop the hammer to pass someone. The rush of low-end torque and the acceleration instantly offered through the most optimal of nine transmission ratios feels a lot like what a big-inch V-8 used to give in a light car (at speeds where the tires stayed hooked up) when all the carburetor throats opened up to give 750-850 cubic feet per minute of air and fuel to pistons pumping through short 4.11:1 axle gearing. Backing vocals from the optional AMG Performance exhaust reinforce the sensation of speed with a rebellious yell at full throttle that’ll rival any set of Thrush Glasspacks and a chorus of carefully metered and calibrated crackles and pops on overrun that can match any sound a carburetor used to accidentally produces when unburned fuel backfired in a ’60s muscle car. (These aural pleasures mostly happen in the Dynamic Select Sport+ or Race modes, and this option costs $1,250 on C63s).
Upgrading from an AMG GLC 43 get its way more than two more cylinders worth of 107 hp and 95 lb-ft. The 4Matic system gets plussed, trading its fixed 31/69 percent front/rear torque bias for a multiplate clutch front power take-off capable of routing 0 to 50 percent of available torque to the front axle as conditions demand. In the position of a torque converter, the nine-speed automatic gets AMG’s Speedshift MCT multiplate clutch launch device, complete with race start programming. This setup is also able to completely declutch the engine for economical “sailing” at speeds between 37 and 99 mph when riding in the default Comfort mode. The air suspension is further enhanced with new geometry that adds up the negative camber and a wider front and rear track achieved by fitting new steering knuckles that position the wheel bearings farther outboard and rear suspension links borrowed from the E63 S sedan. The bushings are stiffer, the variable steering ratio and effort levels are custom programmed, and the continuously variable damping rates and tuning of the three-chamber air spring rates are tuned for more extreme driving performance. A mechanical limited-slip differential is fitted to regular GLC 63s, but the S Coupe gets an electronically locking one. (Note that in the U.S., the S performance variant will only be offered on the Coupe variant, and unlike with the GLE63, a non-S Coupe variant will be offered.)
Normally there are also several visual differentiators, including the AMG GT-inspired Panamericana vertical-slat grille, more aggressive fascias with front splitter and rear diffuser, and special side sills. The normal SUV gets a more aggressive spoiler above the rear window, and coupe versions get a large, aggressive rear lip spoiler on the hatch. Appearance-enhancing options include various 20- and 21-inch cast or forged wheels, carbon-fiber spoiler and mirror caps, and an AMG Night package of black fascia accents, side sills, mirror caps, window frames, and luggage rails. The interior also gets some modest trim upgrades with microfiber upholstery and contrast stitching.