THE boxy five-door version of Mercedes-Benz’s GLC-Class small SUV isn’t to everyone’s tastes. That’s where the fastback-styled GLC Coupe steps in, offering sharper looks wrapped in five-door, soft-roader styling.
TELL ME ABOUT THIS CAR
We have the trendsetting BMW X6 to blame for a sudden rush by all the other luxury carmakers to create a coupe-styled SUV, the so-called answer to the question that no one ever asked. The fastback looks combined with a tough exterior is wooing buyers, so it’s a no-brainer that Mercedes adapt it for what is likely to become the brand’s best-selling soft-roader.
- It definitely has style. The stacked proportion of side height to glass creates a muscular, big-hipped and hunched shape that works well with the plumped, bloated SUV proportions of the GLC
- The diesel engine is a very good match. The 250d uses a punchy twin-turbo 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel engine that feels bigger than its displacement suggests. It’s gravelly – standing outside the car it sounds like a tractor – but has enough low-down torque to move the GLC Coupe’s almost 2.0 tonnes without much fuss. It’s economical, too; we saw figures around 8.0L/100km on test.
- It’s well equipped inside for its $82,100 price tag. Our test car had contrasting red and black leather sports seats – a no-cost option – keyless entry and start, dual-zone climate control, decent interior lighting (you can even change the colour), a surround camera system including a reversing camera (more on that later) linked to front and rear parking sensors, a powered hatchback, and sports-style metal-capped pedals. It does miss heated seats, though ...
- Outside looks pretty sharp. Think 20-inch wheels, side steps, active LED headlights that peer around corners, and – thankfully – no roof rails spoiling the falling roofline’s sleek profile
- The boot space is okay if you’re buying a lot of flat-pack furniture to haul, but poor for everything else. The hemmed-in rear severely limits the depth of the boot space, making it shallow and long. That’s good for grocery shopping, but bad for bulky goods such as a pram. The rear seats split-fold down, but more to make room for surfboard-shaped packages
- The rear seats are a claustrophobic nightmare. A rising waistline and falling roofline pinch in to give the back pews of the GLC a dark, hemmed-in feel that isn’t helped by dark plastics and a lack of side and rear glass. Even the sunroof is too far forward to break that sensation of being deeply closeted
- There’s too much weight. All that high-riding mass has a negative effect on how the GLC handles around corners. The car tends to squat on the offside rear wheel as the centre of gravity – higher than for a conventional passenger car – shifts rearwards
- The suspension is skewed in favour of inner-city driving. The GLC has a pleasant, floaty low-speed setting as its default, but it has a significant disadvantage at freeways speeds: sharp bumps are transferred straight into the cabin, adding roughness, while the rear takes too much time to settle after hitting bigger lumps
- Rearward vision is inadequate. The liftback’s window is tiny – you get a pleasant view of the sky behind the car – and over-the-shoulder sight lines for head checks are generously described as poor. The GLC not only feels as though it needs its standard reversing camera, but it also needs the reversing sensors that look further than the camera can see. Reversing is more by sensor “feel” than sight, while the forward-facing sensors help with locating what’s in front of the tall bonnet
- All that fastback SUV madness. Yes, they look good, the work colleagues will be suitably jealous and just like that Apple Watch on your wrist, they’re at the cutting edge of fashion, not function. And that’s the rub; coupe-styled SUVs come with so many compromises – space, weight, usability and more – that the more sensible choice of a conventional Mercedes-Benz C-Class wagon won’t have to make
ANY RIVALS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
Top of the list if the three-pointed star is the main driving force for the GLC is a Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate. It has more room than the SUV coupe, arguably equally good looks, and won’t need replacing once the word “family” pops into polite conversation. You’d also be pretty smart to have a look at the regular, more boxy but still smart-looking GLC that fixes many of the problems highlighted with the fastback-styled coupe version of the same name.
But if your heart is unrelentingly set on compromise, add a BMW X4 or a Range Rover Evoque to the list.