Mercedes-Benz’s new GLC Coupé boasts beautiful design
Crossover SUV coupe to take on BMW X4 and Porsche Macan from September onwards
Date Reviewed: August 25, 2016
At present Mercedes-Benz Ireland says it cannot meet demand for its standard GLC crossover so maybe the Coupé version with its five-seat practicality and reasonable rear headroom might be a useful option when it arrives in September.
Mercedes-Benz can thank its arch rival BMW for pre-conditioning our eyes to a body style that on paper is a ridiculous notion. When the X5-derived X6 sports activity coupé was launched back in 2007 it was widely regarded as an ugly duckling. Nowadays it’s a popular niche machine and without its success we might not have seen the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé. Credit must go to the brave design team who made a styling leap of faith – even if many of us remain unconvinced.
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This coupe variant carries a substantial premium over the GLC with prices starting in the €60,000 range, so what do you get that justifies roughly a €10,000 extra spend over a regular GLC?
There is the obvious sleeker exterior styling that features an imposing diamond grille at the front. The coupé has a 37mm lower roof line that surprisingly doesn’t impact on headroom as much as you’d think. It has a 40mm wider body due solely to wider set wheels. The body is 76mm longer for no reason other than exterior styling. Then there are 18-inch alloys as standard, whereas the GLC gets 17s.
Everything under the skin is the same as GLC but in an effort to make the Coupé more desirable the dramatic looks get some dynamic assistance. Sports suspension – offered as an option on the GLC – is fitted as standard, as is Sports steering.
This slightly faster steering response means less movement is needed to change direction giving a sportier feel especially when cornering. On the twisty mountain roads we tested the GLE; the switchbacks delivered a lot of fun.
In a nutshell, Sports suspension features steel springs and dampers that are set to deliver a slightly firm ride. Next step up is the optional dynamic body control suspension that has steel springs and active dampers. This option allows you select the level of suspension stiffness via a drive mode rocker switch.
Like other drive modes, steering and engine/throttle response is modified also. Eco mode lowers the car slightly to aid aerodynamic efficiency while the ride remains comfortable.
Comfort is a nice setting to use on poorer road surfaces. Sport as you’d imagine stiffens things up a bit and is the setting we used most. Sport+ and Individual are the other settings.
Stephan Nicklas from passenger car development at Mercedes-Benz explained that the standard entry-level sports suspension stiffness was set just below the Sport setting on the dynamic body control suspension.
The top of the range suspension option is air suspension. With similar selectable settings its Comfort setting has an even greater range of damping to deliver the most cosseted ride. GLC and GLC Coupé are the only cars in their class with the option of air suspension.
The GLE Coupé has a range of eight engine options including a plug-in hybrid. However, for now only two, possibly three powertrains, are relevant for the Irish market. The entry point GLE 200d will be volume seller followed by the 220d and maybe the hybrid will shift a few units. The 200d is rear-wheel drive only; all others feature 4Matic all-wheel drive.
The 200d uses the 2148cc four-cylinder diesel we are very familiar with. It puts out a tame 136hp but does have a decent amount of pulling power with 360Nm of torque.
Sadly, the excellent new 2-litre diesel found in the latest E Class is not available in the GLC range, or in fact, in any other Mercedes-Benz. The reason being, it has a complex electrical wiring setup that can only be fitted with chassis modifications. We are assured the engine will be fitted to Mercs in the future as they undergo major facelifts.
The 220d features the same engine as the 200d but it is remapped to deliver 170hp and 400Nm. This is the version horsebox owners should go for as the 4Matic delivers great traction.
The smallest diesel we got to test was the 250d; with 204hp and 500Nm it was quite entertaining with a 0-100km/h time of 7.6 seconds.
We took the 350e plug-in hybrid for a test and enjoyed the quiet nature of the machine and the rapid acceleration that hybrid power can bring: 0-100km/h taking just 5.9 seconds, that’s a bit quicker than a Prius. The combined output of the 1,991cc engine and electric motor pushes out a healthy 320hp and 560Nm.
Apart from its obvious green credentials, this version is worth considering if you’re a little conscious of driving an SUV around the suburbs or city. In fairness, the GLC Coupé is relatively tiny next to a GLS or Range Rover but having a plug-in hybrid should offer a bit of immunity from the anti-SUV brigade. There is a practical amount of electric-only driving range too – ideal for the school run.
The 350d as expected delivered more numbers from its V6 with 258hp and 620Nm, needless to say it gobbled up the mountain roads around Saint Vincent but is only a bit quick to 100km/h at 6.2 seconds.
Finally, we took the petrol-powered 250 for a spin and surprise surprise it was a slightly quieter machine but still brisk with a 0-100km/h time of 7.3 seconds. Again only a few petrol Coupés will be sold here.
Would I have a GLC Coupé over a GLC? No, the GLC is so good in the first place it would be hard to justify the additional spend. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and some may fancy the mash-up of crossover and coupe.