Used test: Mercedes-AMG GLC vs Porsche Macan
Two hairy-chested sporting SUVs now available for substantially less than their original price, but which one's worth splashing the cash on? We have the answer.....
Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S
List price when new £76,070
Price today £55,000
Available from 2018-present
Mercedes-AMG’s GLC 63 S is bold and brash and it has the Macan firmly in its sights.
Porsche Macan Turbo Performance Pack
List price when new £69,505
Price today £55,500
Available from 2016-present
A hugely popular car with good reason: it’s fast and classy, with serious cachet.
Price today is based on a 2018 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
Take a raised-up SUV, add a little luxury, then try and turn the whole thing into a sports car. What might seem like a bizarre confection has actually caught the imagination of the manufacturers and public alike, and this burgeoning category of sports SUVs has been an area of rapid growth over the last few years.
One of the first cars to fit the bill was the Porsche Macan. Since 2016 it has impressed us with the way it drives and the competence of its suspension. With the Performance Pack version we’re testing here, Porsche has taken an already high-performance SUV and given its 3.6-litre twin-turbo V6 engine even more power, while still aiming to deliver all the comfort and practicality you’d expect of such a vehicle.
But the Macan doesn’t have it all its own way. In the other corner stands the Mercedes-AMG GLC C 63 S, complete with a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 engine from the startlingly quick C63 S saloon. Both cars have four-wheel drive and air suspension to try and keep everything manageable.
New, both of them would have cost you a pretty penny, but buy them at a couple of years old, as we’re testing them here, and you can save enough on the purchase price to pay for several years’ worth of petrol.
Which one makes more sense, though? Read on to find out.
What are they like to drive?
If these SUVs were boxers, the Macan would be Floyd Mayweather (precise and well rounded), while the GLC would be Conor McGregor: loud, brash and capable of delivering one hell of a punch. Indeed, with 503bhp and 516lb ft of torque, the GLC completes the 0-60mph run in a scarcely believable 3.6sec and hits 100mph in 9.0sec (if you can find a disused runway). That makes the GLC not just quicker than the already rapid 434bhp Macan (which takes an extra 0.4sec to hit 60mph) but the quickest SUV we’ve ever tested.
And, unlike the Macan, which delivers its power in a wonderfully linear yet rather undramatic manner, the GLC practically picks you up and throws you towards the horizon. From 3000rpm all the way to its 7000rpm limiter, the GLC’s acceleration is absolutely relentless, its nine-speed automatic gearbox firing through shifts with virtually no interruption. Factor in a thunderous soundtrack like a Nascar racer’s and it’s a driving experience that, for visceral pleasure, eclipses the Macan’s.
But a powerful punch will only get you so far in the ring; you also need to be nimble and light on your feet. This is where the Macan excels. While the GLC’s steering is rather inconsistent in weighting and response, the Macan’s is more precise, letting you place the front wheels more confidently. Paired with crisper accelerator response and diligent body control from its air suspension, the Macan provides the driver with a more intimate connection to the road.
However, don’t think the GLC is simply a point-and-squirt machine. It remains taut and composed on its clever air suspension, minimising lean through demanding corners even more rigorously than the Macan. And should you turn off its electronic stability aids, the GLC’s four-wheel-drive system will even let you slide the car around playfully at low speeds.
That said, in order to achieve this intoxicating driving experience, Mercedes has sacrificed refinement. The GLC’s brittle ride can become tiring on longer journeys, the boomy sports exhaust never fades into the background, there’s more buffeting around its front pillars and its tyres cause more roar at motorway speeds than the Macan’s. It’s by no means unacceptable, but the GLC can’t match the Macan’s impressively hushed ambience.
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