- It's the priciest and highest-performing version of the Mercedes-Benz GLC for 2025.
- The plug-in hybrid powertrain packs 671 hp and 752 lb-ft of torque.
- It offers sport-tuned handling and suspension.
2025 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S E Performance Review: More Power, Half the Cylinders
The loss of the V8 is significant, but not detrimental given the new model's capabilities
There's something inherently silly about performance SUVs. Stuffing an amped-up engine and sport-tuned suspension in a vehicle designed first and foremost for comfortably and efficiently moving people and cargo doesn't make a ton of sense on paper, but drive any modern performance ute and you'll find they don't lose much to their sedan counterparts. The new 2025 Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S E Performance is one such super SUV.
The new GLC 63 S wears a big name and packs even bigger power, though it's making do with half the cylinders of the last-generation GLC 63 S. Despite the reduction in piston count, the new AMG-tuned GLC produces more horsepower than the outgoing model and promises to be quicker and more capable than ever before. Beyond performance improvements, the new GLC AMG packs all the same tech and creature comforts found in the recently redesigned GLC. Although it won't be on sale until the second half of 2024, we had an early opportunity to get behind the wheel of AMG's latest sport-ute to see if the new model lives up to the name.
The four-cylinder makes how much power?
The new GLC 63 S shares most of its powertrain with the Mercedes-AMG C 63 S, another vehicle that ditched its twin-turbocharged V8 in favor of a plug-in hybrid powertrain. The GLC pairs a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with an electric motor mounted on the rear axle, with the latter fed by a 6.1-kWh battery pack, also located at the rear. The gas engine alone makes 469 hp and 402 lb-ft of torque — bonkers numbers for a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, even one with turbocharging. Like other recent AMG models, the engine's turbocharger has a small electric motor built in to get the turbo spinning before exhaust gases take over. The total combined output of the engine and rear-mounted electric motor is 671 horsepower and 752 lb-ft of torque; power is routed to all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic.
Like the new Mercedes-AMG C 63 S E Performance, the battery uses a bit of Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 battery cooling tech, though the connection between Lewis Hamilton's AMG and the GLC 63 S doesn't go much beyond that. (If you've got the cash, the AMG One uses a hybrid turbocharged V6 that's derived quite directly from Mercedes' F1 experience.) Either way, it's cool to see anything trickle down from motorsports to road cars these days, even if it's not as exciting as stuffing an F1 engine in an SUV (though Renault once stuck a 3.5-liter V10 inside a van back in the '90s).
This GLC is a plug-in hybrid, so it can drive on pure electricity for short distances. And we mean short. The battery pack is really there to supply power to the electric motor in the name of performance and doesn't offer much in the way of range. Mercedes hasn't announced range figures for the U.S., but based on the battery's size we would guess the GLC 63 S is likely to offer less than 10 miles of all-electric range.
Quick and comfortable: What more could you ask for?
It only takes a few minutes behind the wheel to put to rest any worry that the complicated powertrain might muddy the GLC's performance. There's a lot going on underneath the skin, but for the most part the powertrain is seamless in practice. There are quite a few drive modes, including Comfort, Electric and three performance modes (Sport, Sport+ and Race) that all adjust things like throttle response, stability control, suspension tuning and steering effort. Electric mode is pretty self-explanatory; the GLC will keep the gas engine off and run solely on the electric motor. Comfort (the standard setting) is basically a "hybrid" setting that will fire the engine on and off based on a variety of parameters. The three sport settings keep the gas engine on all of the time, which has the added benefit of recharging the GLC's battery. No matter what setting you're in, if you floor the accelerator the GLC will give you everything it's got. That said, if you're in Electric or Comfort, it takes about a second for the gas engine to fire up and give you the power you want, though there's plenty on tap when it becomes available.
Acceleration is smooth and even, and you never feel any weird handoff between power supplied by the electric motor and that of the combined gas/electric powertrain. This is great, because plug-ins can feel sluggish if you're not using the gas engine. For example, the new Toyota Prius Prime sprinted from 0 to 60 mph at the Edmunds test track in 6.9 seconds; using only the electric motor dropped that time to 10.8 seconds. That's not the case here. While it's certainly not as quick as running in one of the hybrid modes, there's decent power (201 hp and 236 lb-ft) for city driving or passing on the highway when using just the electric motor.
We haven't had a chance to test it yet, but Mercedes quotes a 0-60 mph time of 3.4 seconds, a hair better than the 3.5 seconds we clocked in the old V8-powered GLC 63 S. That's not much of an improvement given the significant jump in horsepower (the previous version made 503 horsepower), but the extra oomph is likely offset a bit by the new model's presumed weight gain. Mercedes hasn't listed final specs, but given the additional equipment that comes (like that 6.1-kWh battery), we expect the 2025 model to be heavier than before.
That's not to say it feels fat or overweight. There's more than enough power for day-to-day driving, and you'd need a long and open stretch of road to really utilize everything the new GLC 63 S has to offer. The transmission is smooth most of the time yet can crack off upshifts extremely quickly when in one of the sport modes. The paddles are responsive and offer more driver engagement, but the transmission tuning is smart enough in automatic to generally have you in the right gear at the right time.
Handling is solid, too, and AMG's engineers have done a good job of masking the GLC 63's weight. Adaptive dampers are standard and adjust the suspension's responsiveness based on the road conditions and drive mode. Competitors like the BMW X3 M Competition are stiff enough to warrant a dose of ibuprofen after a few hours behind the wheel on anything less than perfect pavement. Not so in the GLC, though the ride does firm up a lot in the Sport+ or Race drive modes. The optional active roll stabilization uses multi-piece anti-sway bars both front and rear rather than solid one-piece anti-sway bars found in most vehicles. This means the car can decouple the anti-sway from left to right if needed, improving comfort without hurting performance.
Body roll is mild in corners, though the GLC does lean more than a sedan like the C 63 S. Same goes for brake dive, which is minimal but more than what we'd see in a sport sedan. The brakes are a bit of a mixed bag. While there's no shortage of stopping power, the pedal feels stiff and requires a bit more effort to slow the car than you might expect, especially when rolling up to a light or stop sign. You get used to the feel pretty quickly, but our preference would be for a bit more bite when you hit the pedal. Another minor issue is the available one-pedal driving function. There are four settings, including fully off, though none are particularly aggressive or will slow you to a complete stop. In our opinion, it's better to just drive it without one-pedal on. While they weren't on our test vehicle and won't be available by the time the GLC 63 S launches next year, carbon-ceramic brakes will eventually be on the options list.
Rear-axle steering is standard, and like most other rear-axle systems it works two ways. At speeds up to 62 mph (100 kph), the rear wheels turn a few degrees in the opposite direction of the front. That tightens the turning radius to make it easier to park and take a tight line through a corner. Beyond that, the rear wheels move in turn with the front wheels to increase high-speed stability. Early rear-axle systems could feel artificial and make handling a little unpredictable at times, but AMG has done a good job of making it seamless. The GLC turns in a little quicker than you might expect, but it's not unnatural and it mostly just helps make the vehicle feel more responsive. The steering helps, too. It doesn't offer a ton in the way of feedback, but the steering effort is spot on and the ratio quick but not darty.
The GLC 63 S is a lot of fun on a winding road, though anything particularly tight doesn't give you enough leash to really show off what the car can do. You need a lot of room to stretch its legs, though it's plenty capable in most situations. And while we love the power and performance from the new engine, the exhaust note is dull compared to the old V8's song.
The inside of the GLC 63 S is generally identical to the non-AMG GLC, a very good thing in this case. The design is stylish but not overdone, with lots of nice materials on the doors, dash and most touch points. Nothing looks or feels cheap, even plastic parts for things like the window switches. The cabin is highly functional. Just about everything is easy to see and reach, and the door pockets and center console provide a decent amount of storage for your phone, sunglasses or water bottle.
All of our test vehicles were fitted with the optional AMG performance seats. They're thinly padded but well shaped, so the lack of cushion isn't a huge issue. Support is good in all directions, and they offer a good bit in the way of adjustment. These seats aren't available with ventilation, though, so you'll have to stick with AMG's standard seats if you want to keep your rear chilled. Space is good in the front and rear, and all but the tallest adults should be comfortable in the back row.
Track apps from the AMG GT
The GLC 63 S comes with the latest generation of Mercedes' MBUX infotainment system. That means a 12.3-inch touchscreen display in the center and an 11.9-inch screen for the instrument cluster. The touchscreen's menu system has many layers and submenus and will take some time to get used to. But take a couple of days and you'll find it's generally easy to navigate and find what you're looking for. The system is responsive and the resolution crisp, so screens like the navigation interface all look very nice. As with most things, the system is an improvement over the last GLC's system, but rivals have released their own updates and enhancements since this generation of MBUX hit the market. MBUX is still great, but it's no longer the clear leader when compared to BMW's latest iteration of iDrive.
There are a few AMG-specific features in the menus, namely the AMG Track Pace. This is basically a software suite that allows for telemetry and shows live readouts for everything from tire pressures to steering wheel angle. You can measure your own 0 to 60 mph time or check to see the lateral g forces you're pulling in a fast corner. Overkill for an SUV? Sure, but that doesn't make it any less cool.
We lament the loss of AMG's wonderful 4.0-liter V8 in the GLC 63 S, but the new plug-in hybrid powertrain isn't lacking in ponies or performance. Passing on the AMG GLC because it no longer offers a V8 is understandable as that engine is a big reason the old model had so much character, but the new model is better in just about every other way. If you don't mind the new exhaust note, there's a lot to like with AMG's plug-in hybrid performance model.