Sheesh – another niche! Mercedes-Benz already has a fastback SUV, called the GLE Coupe; the Mercedez-Benz GLC Coupe is more of the same in a smaller size. The Coupe is aimed at those who care even less for practicality – not that it’s much worse off than its sister GLC SUV – and for the extra $12K it’s asking, ramps up the driving enjoyment considerably. All-wheel-drive, nine-speed automatic, sports suspension, 20-inch wheels and AMG Line exterior and interior styling are all standard across the four introductory variants (220d, 250, 250d, GLC 43). It’s the sports coupe you have when you really need an SUV.
Styling. While on the same 2873mm wheelbase as the GLC SUV, the Coupe is 76mm longer and 37mm lower, most noticeably in the falling roofline. The aggressive nose (with standard “diamond” grille) and pert tail give the exterior a look of agility and purpose, while the interior – different from the SUV – is pure, classy coupe, just higher off the ground.
Performance. The 250 version tested here runs a 2.0-litre, turbocharged four-cylinder, making 155kW/350Nm. It gets gaspy at higher rpm, but mated to a nine-speed auto, it makes surprisingly light work of this version’s 1785kg kerb weight. Fuel consumption (7.1L/100km EU average) betters arch-rival BMW’s rather less potent (135kW/270Nm) X4 20i.
Handling. You really can have an SUV that looks like a coupe and goes a fair way towards driving like one, too. The Coupe’s suspension – standard on steel springs, but with Air Body Control optional – is firmed-up from the GLC SUV’s, and gets five-mode Dynamic Body Control as standard. Taut, sharp steering and grippy Michelin Latitude Sport rubber make it decently entertaining in the twisties.
Space. In the context of a 1.8-tonne vehicle that costs $12,000 more than the mechanically similar SUV, it’s a weakness. While shoulder room and rear legroom are claimed to be identical, the GLC Coupe obviously loses out in rear headroom. It’s adequate for sub-178cm passengers, though they’ll first bang their heads getting in and out. Coupe’s luggage capacity drops to 410 litres (from SUV’s 550).
Vision. Visibility cops it coming and going: forwards, thanks to the energy-channelling A-pillars, and rearwards thanks to the falling coupe roofline, high waistline and tall tail. A standard 360-degree camera gives a bird’s eye view to simplify parking and blind-spot warnings aid in lane changes, but those thick A-pillars constantly get in the way.
Seating. Not that much of a weakness, as seating quality is pretty darned good, but front seats aren’t quite as laterally supportive as their deep sculpting suggests. Rear seats look fantastic, being styled to suggest a 2+2 coupe, but the head-bruising entry/egress and slightly compromised accommodation for a centre passenger can be gauged against the less expensive, sister GLC SUV.
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
If an SUV coupe isn’t niche enough, consider an SUV performance coupe. The GLC family will include a 270kW, twin-turbo V6 GLC 43 by the time of its Nov-Dec launch, which will provide competition for Porsche’s Macan S (250kW, $93,100). If price is more an issue, BMW’s X4 xDrive20i Steptronic ($71,100) matches the GLC 250 Coupe’s 2.0-litre turbo spec and fastback shape, albeit with clunkier styling and less power and fuel efficiency.