So you want a compact SUV with a prestigious badge; but you'd like a more dynamic-looking one. Something like a BMW X4, a Range Rover Evoque - or perhaps this car, Mercedes' GLC Coupe. Jonathan Crouch looks at what's on offer.
Ten Second Review
Having been curious absent from the compact SUV market for ages, Mercedes now offers buyers in this segment two options, the GLC five-door model launched in 2014 here joined by a more dynamic-looking Coupe version that primarily aims to take on BMW's X4.
A decade ago, the whole idea of an 'SUV coupe' sounded ludicrous. Then BMW came along with their X6 and suddenly, the concept didn't seem quite so silly. And it definitely didn't once the Bavarian brand revealed sales figures that showed that car was striking a resounding chord with better-heeled buyers. So successful was it that in 2014, BMW revealed a smaller X4 model, essential a coupe version of their X3 compact SUV. Mercedes were watching and, having copied the X6 with their GLE Coupe, the Stuttgart brand has also announced its own spin on the X4 with the model we look at here, the GLC Coupe.
This car's opposition extends beyond the X4 of course. Potential buyers will also be looking at style-conscious small SUVs like Range Rover's Evoque - and maybe even at Porsche's Macan. Should they also take this Mercedes into account? Let's see.
Despite its more dynamic looks, you shouldn't expect a GLC Coupe to be really any more dynamic to drive than its hatch stablemate. As with that car, air suspension can be added at extra cost. This option is desirable. 'AIR BODY CONTROL', as Mercedes call it, promises a cosseting ride when you want luxury or flat, sportscar-like handling when you're in a hurry.
Under the bonnet, the buying focus is on the 2.1-litre diesel units used in the GLC 220d and GLC 250d models. The differences between these two variants are down to engine tune, with the 220d offering 170PS and the 250d churning out 204PS. The 0-62mph times are 8.3 and 7.6 seconds respectively. If you want more performance, the GLC 350d 4MATIC variant has a V6 3.0-litre diesel, while the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC derivative fronts up with a bi-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine developing 367bhp.
Mercedes has also developed a plug-in hybrid version, the GLC 350e, which adds a 116PS electric motor and a battery pack to a 2.0 litre turbo petrol unit. The success of Mitsubishi's similarly-configured Outlander PHEV plug-in hybrid model suggests that there'll be a strong UK appetite for that kind of car. At launch, all models were equipped with 4MATIC 4WD. Whatever your choice of variant, drive will be supplied through a standard 9-speed automatic gearbox.
Design and Build
As you'd expect, this car's design owes much to that of the standard GLC hatch model, so you get the same sloping roofline, narrow rear window and big tail-lights. The front end is exactly the same as that of the regular GLC but if you get out the tape measure, you'll find that this Coupe is 80mm longer and 40mm wider than its donor model - and slightly longer than a rival BMW X4. As usual, there's a wide range of options to make your GLC look either sporty or very luxurious, both inside and out. Go to town in the cabin and it really will feel luxurious. Options that'll help the car stand out include side running boards and huge 20-inch alloys.
Inside, there are few changes from the regular GLC. Carried over is the flowing, one-piece centre console and tablet-style infotainment display, this positioned on top of the beautifully crafted dash. Standards of shoulder, elbow and legroom are the same in the front, but headroom is inevitably a little more restricted at the back, though five folk can still be seated inside. The 491-litre boot loses 59-litres of capacity over the standard GLC and offers a maximum capacity of 1,205 litres with the rear bench folded flat.
Market and Model
You're looking at a premium of around £3,000 to own a GLC Coupe over the standard GLC hatch. That means pricing that starts at around £40,500 for the entry-level GLC Coupe 220d Sport. There's a choice of two diesel variants in the mainstream range - the 220d and the 250d - and two model lines are available: Sport and AMG Line. Standard equipment on all variants includes a Garmin Map Pilot navigation system, Active Park Assist and a keyless start system. Buyers can also expect to find a reversing camera, LED performance head lights, heated front seats, sports suspension, an electrically operated tail gate and a and mirror package consisting of electrically operated and automatically dimming mirrors.
Sport models come with a black ash wood interior trim, 18-inch alloy wheels and a diamond grille with black-painted pins. For around £1,500 more, AMG Line trim adds an AMG sports steering wheel with flat bottom, brushed steel sports pedals, black roof lining and Artico faux leather in either black or Cranberry Red. The exterior feature: an AMG bodystyling kit, 19-inch five-twin-spoke alloy wheels and a diamond grille with chrome pins. All GLCs receive a 9-speed automatic gearbox, four wheel drive, the 'COMAND' infotainment system, 'DYNAMIC SELECT' handling control with adjustable dampers, plus all the usual niceties you'd expect from a Mercedes of this price.
Cost of Ownership
This GLC has to be competitive when it comes to running costs - and is. The running costs of GLC Coupe 220d and 250d models are pretty much identical. The range starts with the GLC 220d which delivers 56.5 mpg on the combined cycle and 131g/km of CO2. The GLC 250d achieves 56.5mpg and 131g/km.
What else? Well, we'll tell you that the comprehensive three year unlimited mileage warranty is built upon by Mercedes' Mobilo scheme which delivers breakdown cover for up to thirty years, as long as you continue to have your car serviced at a Mercedes main dealer. And it's worth knowing that your maintenance outlay can be kept a little in check by going for the optional Service Care package that takes care of routine maintenance, spreading the cost of regular servicing.
There's also an ASSYST dashboard service indicator that monitors engine use and tells you exactly when a garage visit is due. It's also worth mentioning that the 'Mercedes me' remote online services package that comes as part of the 'COMMAND Online' infotainment system includes remote self-diagnostic capability, enabling your GLC to monitor wear and tear items and alert your local dealer to let you know if something needs seeing to.
On paper, you'd have to wonder why anyone would need a compact SUV coupe. In practice though, it's a very enticing formula indeed, especially in the guise that Mercedes has provided us with here.
Some may feel that there are still more dynamic choices to make in this segment: the trendier-looking Range Rover Evoque for example. Or the sharper-handling BMW X4. As an all-rounder though, combining many of the qualities you'll find in both those cars, the GLC Coupe is a tempting package. It's arrived late to the party, but it's come well equipped to make a few waves.