I’ve had the good fortune through the years working as a reporter to interview many celebrities. Some stand out more than others, like Arnold Schwarzenegger when he was governor of California and did a Terminator impression. When interviewing famous people, I try not to slip into a “fanboy” mode, try to keep it professional so on and so forth. I can usually keep it in check although it can be tough at times like when Kate Upton is sitting across the table smiling.
One of the tougher interviews I had in terms of warding off the fanboy, was when I interviewed Jay Leno a few years back. For those who are unaware, Leno is a comedian turned late night talk show host among other things. He’s also a huge car guy. As in a huge car guy who owns a garage so big, they turned it into a TV show and filled with enough rare and expensive cars to fund many third world countries for several generations.
Being a huge car buy myself I had to fight my fanboy inclinations when I sat down with him. Leno was of course gracious, kind and full of fantastic stories. He was one of those interviews a reporter loves to do; one where few questions are asked and instead the interviewee simply just talks. Jay Leno was one of these.
I did get a chance to ask him a few questions. One that sticks out in my mind was about a recent car purchase. It was a Bugatti Veyron, if my mind serves me correctly (and if my old handwritten notes are still correct) it was a Special Edition Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse. It was the third ever Bugatti signed on the Registry of the American Bugatti Club. And Jay had just bought it for somewhere in the neighborhood of $2 million. When talking about it, Leno became a fanboy himself discussing the car and seemed unabashed about the price. He said he loved owning it, and added, “I mean it’s a beautiful car, if you could afford to own something like that, wouldn’t you?”
That made me wonder. And the truth I realized was that yes, if I could afford to own something like that, I certainly would. Of course, I couldn’t then, and can’t now, but I get it. That line from him has made me appreciate the times when I get to drive something I couldn’t possibly ever afford. And since then many times, I rate a car I couldn’t ever buy on the basis of “would if I could.” Some of the more expensive ones are cars fall into the “not even if I could” while some are definite “would if I could.”
The 2020 Mercedes GLC43 AMG fits into the “would if I could” category. Mercedes delivered me one for a recent week, and while I am a fan of all things Mercedes, any with the AMG variant attached make me go all full-on fanboy.
The GLC43 is sort of a middle child. It fits nicely between the base GLC300 models and the bigger GLC63. For 2020, both the GLC43 and GLC63 got a refresh. The exterior got an update with new headlight setup and a nice slim AMG exclusive grill. There’s also new alloy wheels, front apron and new aerodynamic accents. Inside the infotainment system got an upgrade and gets AMG specific functions. There’s also a flat bottom AMG steering wheel wrapped in microfiber while under the hood the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 gets a kick with 385 horsepower, 23 more than the previous year model.
While there are no other levels in the GLCs Mercedes is famous for option packages which, while pricy, can get you just about any sort of gadget you want. Sure, there are a lot of nice standard Mercedes features like a power liftgate, roof-rack rails, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and heated power-folding sideview mirrors with integrated turn signals; also keyless entry and push-button ignition, dual-zone air conditioning, faux leather upholstery, and a display screen measuring 10.25 inches. And plenty of standard safety features like blind-spot monitoring and automated emergency braking.
The options on my tester included a Driver Assistance Package ($1700) with active steering assist and lane keeping and Active Parking Assist ($1290) an Exterior Lighting Package ($800) and the Multimedia Package ($995) which features a cool navigation assist that will show you a video shot of an upcoming turn when activated. Mine also had the panoramic sunroof ($1500) and the Burmester sound system ($750). One of my personal favorites was the added AMG exhaust ($1250) which allows for a bit of tuning.
The front seats are covered in Nappa leather and the cabin isn’t overly big, nor is it confining. One of the bigger surprises was the redesigned interior. I’m used to having a cornucopia of knobs, dials, buttons and such in a Mercedes. With the new design, Mercedes actually eliminated many of those and what’s left is minimal. Most everything is now controlled through the 10.25-inch screen that floats in the center of the dash via touch or a touch pad in the center of the console.
The dash is still very configurable and can show things such as speed in the currently engaged gear, as well as boost pressure, engine oil temperature, and transmission oil temperature, while a second screen displays your AMG Dynamic Select settings.
Being an AMG, the drive modes are adjustable and can be done on the fly. This includes the ability to adjust the performance suspension. I was able to coax the GLC43 from 0-60 in about 4.1 seconds (I knew this thanks to a Racetimer that’s part of the system).
The GLC43 is less of an SUV and more of a crossover. Less boxy that say the GLE350, and in the AMG variant a heck of a lot more fun to drive than just about anything I have driven in quite some time.
Alas, my tester priced out at $74,075. That’s about $74,074 more than I have. So it’s more than I could hope to ever afford. But I would if I could.
I’ll leave you with my favorite line from my interview with Jay Leno. Something inspiring, prophetic and meaningful:
“Race car driving is a little like sex. All men think they are good at it. So when you are out there by yourself, you actually are good at it until somebody else comes on the track. Hey, don’t take anything from that. You know what I am saying.”
The 2020 Mercedes GLC43 AMG
MSRP (as tested): $74,075
Engine: 3.0-liter twin turbo charged V6 385 horsepower @ 5500 rpm, 384 lb-ft torque @2500 rpm
Transmission: 9 speed shiftable automatic with overdrive
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 18 city, 24 highway, 21 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 24 mpg
Base Curb Weight (pounds0: 4173
Wheelbase (inches): 113.1
Length (inches): 183.5
Width, without mirrors (inches): 74.4
Height (inches): 64.1
Front Track Width (inches): 64.4
Rear Track Width (inches): 65
Minimum Ground Clearance (inches): 6.7
Liftover Height (inches): 27.6
Passenger / Seating Capacity: 5
Front Head Room (inches): 41.9
Front Leg Room (inches): 40.8
Front Shoulder Room (inches): 57.3
Second Row Head Room (inches): 38.5
Second Row Leg Room (inches): 37.3
Cargo Space/Area Behind Front Row (cubic feet): 40.6
4 Basic Years / 50,000 Basic Miles
4 Drivetrain Years / 50,000 Drivetrain Miles
4 Corrosion Years / 50,000 Corrosion Miles
4 Roadside Assistance Years / 50,000 Roadside Assistance Miles