Behind the Wheel

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Review: Speedy, comfortable sedan but all that glimmers isn’t gold

The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is a lesson in balance - speed meets comfort, power meets easy drivability.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

When a model wears the AMG badge, it's a signal that it is a driver's car. The 2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S is no exception to that rule. But, driving is about more than just having a competent engine. It's in these small details where the model falters.

The looks of the C63 S are rather standard fare for a Mercedes sedan. It's smart, buttoned up, ready to take you where you want to go. It fits in nearly everywhere but doesn't quite stand out.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S The profile of the model reveals a strong and confident design.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes has installed a handcrafted AMG 4.0-liter V8 engine under the hood of the car. It produces 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. That's more than plenty. When you get on the throttle, in any of the car's drive settings (Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, Individual, Race) it roars to life (more so if you push the button for the more aggressive exhaust note).

The nine-speed automatic transmission delivers smooth shifts and opting for the full paddle shifter experience is equally as smooth. What isn't smooth is the automatic stop-start functionality. Thankfully the quick push of a button on the center console turns that off ASAP.

Though the car's steering is spot on, its limited slip differential is less limited in its slip than is comforting when pulling out quickly from a stop. Off the line, it's a gem but turning the corner from a stop is another story. One could argue that getting on it in corner isn't what you're going to do on a daily basis if you own the car, but one doesn't simply buy a C63 S to take it easy.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S Even when driving in Comfort mode, the driver's information display can showcase the car's power output and camber of the road. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

There's some cool features that you won't see on any model outside the Mercedes lineup in the U.S. The high beams turn on in a pattern similar to drawing back a curtain, and reveal a fantastic amount of illumination. A dial on one side of the AMG Performance steering wheel quickly and easily turns to adjust the drive mode while buttons on the other side allow you to easily adjust the suspension and exhaust.

That steering wheel comes made of half carbon fiber (from 10 to two and four to eight) while the remaining sections are covered in Dinamica suede. The suede bits are fine, but when the summer sun heats up that carbon fiber, it feels like a plasma cutter to the hands (and legs if you happen to bump it while wearing shorts).

This isn't aided at all by the air conditioning, which requires the car to be in gear and running (preferably in a forward motion) before it even thinks about dispensing cool air.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S The car's seats are equal parts comfortable and sporty.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The C-Class is a compact car. It's interior is spacious for the first row passengers but the second-row seats can get a bit squished if you're tall. The AMG Performance sport seats are comfortable enough for everyday use but also hold you tight enough that should you choose to carve some corners you won't have to worry about wiggling around in the seat.

The car's safety technology works as advertised except that the traffic sign reading function has a hard time telling the difference between 55 mph and 65 mph at night. Active Speed Limit Assist is part of the Driver Assistance Package ($1,700 upgrade) on the model and while the issue shouldn't stop you from getting the package, it's something to be aware of.

The rest of the C63 S is as expected. Handing is engaging, fuel economy isn't fantastic, and upholstery and appointments are equal parts attractive and appropriate for the car's price point.

2020 Mercedes-AMG C63 S The back end of the model is rather status quo for the company's model line.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

About that price point. The tester came in a shade over $96,000 – the base MSRP is $75,700. That's a price for someone who really wants that car. They're not in the market to comparison shop and there's nothing wrong with that.

For the price of the C63 S as tested, you can get a fairly nice Porsche 911 or a BMW M2 Competition and a vacation. The biggest advantage the C63 S has over those is a a second set of doors and a usable back row – and that is quite the advantage for many buyers.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Buick has redesigned their flagship Enclave model for the 2022 model year.

Photo courtesy of Buick

A more aggressive body design is on tap for the 2022 Buick Enclave. The model, which has undergone a complete redesign, was shown this week ahead of a full debut.

The body of the 2022 Enclave features piercing LED headlights with an LED light signature. Fog lights dominate the lower front fascia while the clamshell of the hood closes further down the face, presumably to enhance aerodynamics. Sculputed body panels emphasize the length and stance of the three-row SUV.

Hard plastic, which typically serves as a sensor panel for safety technology, is not shown on the grille of this model, meaning that the technology may continue to be concealed in the Buick's front emblem.

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir The 2022 Buick Enclave Avenir will ride on new wheels and have a fresh back end design.Photo courtesy of Buick

2022 Buick Enclave Avenir

Chrome accents feature heavily on the Enclave, which is shown in the top-tier Avenir trim level. The model also wears a new wheel design.

New taillight design goes further to emphasize the width of the seven-seat Enclave.

Engine and transmission information has yet to be revealed. The 2021 Enclave comes standard with front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive is available. Buick has made the 2021 model capable of towing up to 5,000 pounds. It is expected that the 2022 model will follow in those footsteps.

Though not shown in the photos released by Buick, the Enclave is expected to have a more refined interior. It's not unreasonable to assume that they model will include the over 10-inch infotainment touch screen that made its debut in the 2021 Buick Envision, as well as diamond-quilted leather upholstery, massaging seat functionality, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

It's also possible that the model will get GM's Super Cruise hands-free driving functionality, which is being expanded throughout the lineup.

Pricing for the model has yet to be announced. The 2021 Enclave is listed with a starting MSRP of $41,195 with the destination and delivery charging included and tops out just over $57,000.

The 2022 Buick Enclave will go on sale later this year.

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The Mercedes-Benz GLA was redesigned for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz GLA was completely redesigned for the 2021 model year, taking it from a mundane tuna can-like hatchback to a zippy, more traditional small SUV. Everything about it fits into the modern Mercedes SUV lineup. It's a mini Merc. It's formulaic and perfectly fine but it's just not that nice compared to what else you can get for around $40,000 (starting price is just over $36,000)

Mercedes sells the GLA in three variants with another on the way. There's the traditional GLA 250 and GLA 250 4MATIC, and the AMG GLA 35. A more high-performance version of the model, the AMG GLA 45 is coming soon. Front-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is available on most models. A variety of drive modes allow the driver to choose how much torque they want to allocate to what wheels and additional setup options for suspension and dynamics are available on pricier GLAs.

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 The car's infotainment and driver information screens are housed together as one unit.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA 250

As tested, the GLA 250 was powered by the standard 2.0-liter turbo-four that is paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. It delivers 221 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The SUV had trouble off the line during daily driving. The GLA's turbo lag added together with low-end gearing confusion to make the mundane drive from stop sign to stop sign in a neighborhood a comfortable creep followed by a robust burst of energy. Once out of the neighborhood and up to full speed on the highway, the powertrain performed far better, however, there was nothing elegant about it.

The model's steering is numb, which is typical for its class. It's steering circle isn't as tight as is optimal.

Any promise of a tranquil ride that you would think would be relatively standard with a Mercedes is not something the GLA possesses. However, for as much road noise that permeates the cabin, it's still less than the awful rattling the previous generation GLA allowed in. For that we can all be thankful.

The added height of the GLA gives the vehicle a more SUV-like seating position than its crossover predecessor. Ingress and egress is easy, as it should be with a model of these proportions. Head- and legroom for front passengers is fantastic for a vehicle of the GLA's size.

Seats in the GLA are not uncomfortable, and certainly not the worst that Mercedes offers.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes wins points for the GLA's tech, which is easy to use, responsive, and pleasing to the eye. The GLA comes standard with the Mercedes-Benz two screens, in one large housing. Its Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) operating system runs two 7.0-inch screens. The centrally located screen, which controls the infotainment system, reacts to touch and can also be operated by a touchpad controller on the center console. The list of standard equipment also includes four USB ports, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto.

Buyers can upgrade their model to include a 10.25-inch infotainment touch screen, 12-speaker Burmester audio system, wireless device charging, a Wi-Fi hot spot, head-up display, and navigation.

Mercedes gives every GLA a reasonable amount of active safety features. The list includes a rearview camera, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning, vehicle exit warning, automatic emergency braking, driver drowsiness monitoring, and crosswind assist. To get the most desirable safety features, GLA buyers need to add on two packages, which drive up the price $2,800.

The SUV has ample space in the second row for adults.Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The GLA's interior materials, cabin noise, and unrefined powertrain make it seem like a less-than premium SUV. The car's tech offerings give it a boost, but other models offer a longer list of standard and available safety technology.

Buyers who are savvy and looking to get the most bang for their buck will want to test drive similarly sized models like the 2020 Buick Encore GX, Jaguar E-Pace (it was refreshed for the 2021 model year with major changes), and Mazda CX-30 before committing to the GLA. They have interiors that are just as nice and offer price tags that are more wallet-friendly.

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