Automakers across the globe are well on their way to electrifying their entire lineups, either transitioning to full BEV or hybridizing the remaining combustion offerings. Mercedes-Benz is certainly no exception, and though the benefits of a smooth ride and substantial fuel efficiency offered by e-motors goes hand in hand with MB’s luxury promises, it creates challenges for the performance side of things.
It’s a particularly tricky path for AMG, the in-house performance division for Mercedes known for making monsters out of an already power-packed lineup of cars. What does a brand known for brute force solutions do when the order of the day is "less is more?" It’s a question that hovers over the 2025 Mercedes AMG GLC63 S E Performance, a powerful – if quirky – performance SUV that uses every trick in AMG’s book to stay ahead of the pack on its way to full electric performance.
|Quick Specs||2025 Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S E Performance|
|Engine||Turbocharged 2.0-Liter Four-Cylinder Hybrid|
|Output||671 Horsepower / 752 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH||3.4 Seconds|
|On-Sale Date||Summer 2024|
Lightning In A Bottle
The hottest GLC63 makes use of M-B’s M139L engine, the same unit found in AMG C63, unique in that it’s a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an electronically assisted turbocharger. On its own, the four-banger can squeeze out an impressive 469 horsepower and 402 pound-feet of torque. In this vehicle, AMG marries that powerplant to a plug-in hybrid system made up of a permanently excited synchronous motor on the rear axle that can add around 201 horsepower and 236 pound-feet to the mix.
Car math means that the total output of the US-spec versions of the AMG GLC cutting-into-my-word-count is expected to be around 671 horsepower and 752 pound-feet of torque. Put to full use, the GLC63 S E Performance can sprint to 60 mph in about 3.4 seconds, according to Mercedes-Benz, and tops out at an electronically-limited 171 mph.
This is a setup that mirrors the one in the similarly long-named C63 performance PHEV, though the hybrid system is exclusive to this vehicle. The GLC’s 400-volt battery is designed for fast power delivery, a function made possible by the battery’s innovative cooling system. Each of the 560 cells are temperature-controlled individually to maintain consistency, a lesson learned from the hybrid systems of the brand’s Formula 1 cars. AMG hasn’t specified the all-electric range available, but the 6.1-kilowatt-hour capacity of the battery and the predominance of the combustion engine indicates electric mode is best used for short, slow jaunts.
While the e-motor affects the rear axle directly, power is otherwise routed to the AMG’s all-wheel-drive system through a multi-clutch nine-speed automatic transmission. This works in tandem with the active dampers and dynamic ride suspension, along with 2.5-degree rear-wheel steering, operating to virtually shorten the GLC’s wheelbase or to add increased stability at speed.
The AMG GLC has eight pre-programmed settings that make the most of what the powertrain and dynamic ride suspension have to offer. The aforementioned electric mode can be used conditionally at up to 78 mph, while comfort splits the usage for optimum efficiency. Battery hold limits the e-motor’s usage in favor of recharging the battery, and three performance modes increase the aggressiveness of the system’s output, along with other aspects. All systems change steering, damping, throttle, and gearbox response in accordance with their levels of comfort or sportiness, and they can be individually configured for the AMG GLC’s final setting.
Blinded Me With Science
This version of the GLC retains its sleek yet dense mid-size SUV stature, even with the AMG touches. The extra bits like a unique grille, air intakes, and rear diffuser panel don’t overwhelm the GLC’s streamlined looks. Even aero elements like a subtle rear wing keep the SUV from looking too wacky, though those limits can be pushed with certain equipment packages. On the inside the AMG sport seats and the option to carbon fiber all the things hammer home the AMG-ness of the GLC a bit more, as does the AMG steering wheel with its multitude of capacitive inputs and function dials.
Speaking of tech, the AMG GLC is stuffed to the gills with all the best Mercedes-Benz gizmos. An 11.9-inch central touchscreen dominates the dashboard while the driver also has a 12.3-inch gauge cluster at their disposal, along with a third customizable head-up display, all of which is powered by the latest MBUX operating system. It makes for quite a showcase of features but it remains an industry standard for distracting, overwrought UIs. While voice commands help, there’s no getting around the amount of animated graphics meant to show off the system’s vibrancy that’s literally dazzling to behold and prioritized over ease of use.
Possibly the biggest offender is the location of this GLC’s brake regen switch. While the EQ models take advantage of availability of vestigial steering wheel paddles, the hybrid GLC is forced to hide this within one of the AMG’s wheel-mounted driver setting dials. One tap of the right button allows the driver to set up to three levels of regenerative brake force, but good luck finding that if you don’t know it’s there. These dials can be customized and all of their functions can be accessed elsewhere in secondary menus, but this system eluded us until I tracked down an engineer for help, speaking to the interior’s lack of intuitive functionality.
Putting power to the pavement in this iteration of the AMG GLC is effective, though not without compromise. Fire it up and the seams begin to make themselves known as the sound of the miniature power plant permeates the vehicle. Though Mercedes has done its best in manipulating the engine notes, it can’t fully mask the churning of the two-liter. In fact, from the cabin, the processed sounds crib the same resources as the engine-less EQ models, resulting in a very strange mix of digital audio with analog sounds, not dissimilar to industrial techno.
I’m going on about this because it's indicative of how the rest of the AMG GLC feels like an unnatural amalgamation of sensations. It works, often quite well, but the stitching varies in substance from system to system. Take the very heart of this GLC for example. The powertrain as a whole is something to be celebrated, starting with the M139L engine. This alone is quite a marvelous piece of work and is one of the finer examples of motorsport-derived tech making its way to superior consumer offerings. Taking that and combining it with an electric motor on the rear axle and a 400V battery is the kind of mad genius that gets us excited about performance car engineering.
In practice, it’s very quick to offer up the power it promises. It’s not instant, and the driver can feel the e-motors at work to either spool up the engine’s induction or to make up for any lag, but it’s very quick. Impressive for sure, but it isn’t seamless. If you’re aware of what’s going on behind the scenes, it’s less jarring but it often feels like watching a film that randomly skips a frame or two; it doesn’t ruin the experience but it takes you out of it for a moment.
Not helping this is the lack of a support structure to really make this interesting amalgamation shine. The nine-speed multi-clutch automatic transmission is mostly fine, but stands out when the governing software makes curious shifting decisions. In either Comfort or in Dynamic driving modes, the AMG GLC’s gearbox will draw attention to itself with a “thunk” or two of engagement. Taking control with the paddle shifters will remedy this but the GLC will impatiently wrestle control back after a too-brief period of not shifting.
The weakest link in the chain is the AMG GLC’s brake system. Built for high performance, the brakes clearly have the chops to bring this speedy and hefty hybrid SUV to a stop when it counts, but the execution is off. Progressive as they may be, the brakes take a very deep and heavy foot to engage effectively. This is a hassle when trying to transition rapidly from brake to throttle through a series of turns, requiring the driver to habitually brake a full second before they normally would to compensate.
All told it’s a collection of systems that are slightly out of sync with each other like a band with each member playing with different timing. Individually, they’re not bad but they’re simply not in concert with each other. In the same vein, these are issues that seem like they could be fixable with different calibrations to the brakes and tweaks to the software, particularly since the US models still have time to bake in the oven.
This also speaks to how much of the figurative and literal heavy lifting the suspension setup is doing. Throughout the drive, AMG’s ride control and active dampers are working to make the AMG GLC and whomever’s behind the wheel a star. Pair that with the roll stabilization and the rear wheel steering, and the GLC is imbued with a degree of performance that makes it a worthy contender with its rivals in the segment, particularly those by other German manufacturers.
It Was A Smash
The AMG GLC63 S E Performance is a monstrous mix of enough performance parts to make Frankenstein blush. It’s an intriguing combination of performance tech that ultimately succeeds at its mission, but there’s the lingering suspicion that there should be a shorter path to the same result. I’m not a performance car engineer, so take this observation with a grain of salt, it just seems as if this is an exercise in what could be done rather than what should be done.
Powertrain aside, the GLC remains a sleek, stout SUV, and the AMG glow-up is enough to add a touch of menace without breaking up the impression. It saves that for the interior with the brash but bolstered sport seats along with the usual racer-boi accents. With a multitude of configuration settings, the odds are good that drivers will find a setup that works for them, though the spongy brakes don’t inspire the confidence needed to take full advantage of the GLC’s updated power and handling.
It’s a curious addition to the AMG family, and while the big jump power and the advantages of an electrified system are compelling, it’s hard to suss which customers are waiting to jump into this iteration of the AMG GLC. They’ll have plenty of time to think about it as the car doesn’t make its way to the US by the end of next year at the earliest, and there are plenty of electrified options to consider in the meantime.
- Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio: Not Rated
- BMW X3 M Competition: Not Rated
- Land Rover Range Rover Velar SVAutobiography Dynamic: Not Rated
2025 Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S E Performance