Mercedes seems to have given AMG a birthday present for its 50th anniversary -- carte blanche with the current model line- up. That's because making its debut at the New York Auto Show is the smallest production SUV in Mercedes' history to incorporate AMG's monstrous twin turbocharged 4-litre V8 powerplant.
The Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 comes in two states of tune -- 476 or 510hp (for the 'S' variant) and in two body styles, traditional and coupé. But no matter which one you plump for, you'll get an intelligent, torque-distributing all-wheel drive, a sports-tuned nine-speed automatic gearbox and the only premium mid-sized SUV on sale anywhere with eight cylinders under the hood -- even the Porsche Macan, the GLC's closest direct competitor, tops out at six cylinders.
"[It] is a quite special vehicle. It is no easy job designing an SUV to be highly sporty and dynamic while at the same time offering inherent extreme driving stability. This required us to put our heart and soul, along with our many years of SUV expertise, into the development of this vehicle," said Tobias Moers, Mercedes-AMG CEO. "The result is an SUV that can be driven with high precision and agility and which, if required, is equally at home on a high-speed lap of the race track."
Unlike with, say, a Range Rover Sport, which is a genuine all-terrain vehicle given a huge dose of straight-line performance, it will be hard to imagine most GLC 63 owners taking on canyon trails or descending a grassy hill with a one-in-five gradient.
Indeed, Mercedes hasn't provided data on ground clearance, angle of approach, or maximum fording depth, but it's very keen to highlight the car's acceleration. All versions of the 63 can cover the 0-100km/h dash in 4.0 seconds, and the 'S' manages it in 3.8 seconds. Both versions top out at 155mph (250km/h).
Mercedes has now sold over 4 million SUVs since it started offering the G Class back in 1979.
"[SUVs] now make up around one third of our global sales," said Britta Seeger, Mercedes-Benz Cars global head of Marketing and Sales. "Our SUVs show that Mercedes-Benz feels completely at home off the beaten track. This sense of adventure is one of the reasons why customers value our brand so highly."
This is particularly true in the US, where over the past year Mercedes has reasserted itself as the country's most popular premium automotive brand at a time where demand for SUVs, crossovers and rugged styling has never been greater.