Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - GLC - 250d
Cleverly designed to minimise impact of coupe profile, everything we like about the excellent GLC wagon
Room for improvement
Wagon’s shallow boot worsened by coupe’s sloping rear windscreen, all-black interior option to be avoided
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23 Mar 2017
Price and equipment
FIRE-BREATHING $109,900 (plus on-road costs) GLC43 AMG variant notwithstanding, the GLC250d Coupe tested here is the most expensive variant at $83,500 plus on-roads, with the 220d opening the range at $78,500 and the 250 petrol at $81,500.
The sub-$100,000 four-cylinder coupe variants are all more than $12,000 costlier than the equivalent GLC wagon, while the twin-turbo V6-powered AMG carries a $7500 premium.
Apart from exclusivity, the additional cost is offset by standard 20-inch wheels and adaptive dampers, plus about $3500 worth of AMG cosmetic treatments inside and out. It’s also worth pointing out that GLC Coupe variants are priced a couple of grand higher than the equivalent BMW X4.
Like the wagon, every GLC Coupe is pretty generously specified as standard, with the 250d featuring dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and start, a power tailgate, adaptive LED headlights with high-beam assist, rain-sensing wipers, autonomous parking, Garmin satellite navigation, leather upholstery with electric front-seat adjustment, privacy glass, illuminated sill plates, black ash wood trim, self-dimming interior mirror, collision prevention assistance, Pre-Safe braking assistance and blind spot monitoring and a 360-degree camera view accessed through the dash-mounted screen.
Also standard is Driver Assistance Plus, comprising blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking and lane-keeping assistance.
Drive mode settings affecting the drivetrain, steering and chassis response run from Eco through Comfort, Sport and Sport+ and elements of each can me mixed and matched via the Individual setting.
Our test car was optioned with the $3590 Vision Pack which includes a head-up display and panoramic sunroof, the $2990 Comand Pack that ups the infotainment screen to 8.4 inches, adds hard-drive-based sat-nav, 10GB of digital music storage, a DVD player, additional Bluetooth and voice recognition functions, onboard internet access and a 13-speaker, 590W Burmester surround-sound audio system.
To complement the Night Black paintwork of our coupe was the $490 Night Pack that deletes exterior chrome and silver trim in favour of, as the name suggests, piano black finishes for a moody gangsta look. The total price of our test car was $89,170 before on-road costs.
Vehicles with the $2490 optional Air Body Control suspension have suspension ride-height adjustment and superior ride quality, while the $1290 Seat Comfort package increases the range of front seat adjustment, adds memory function (including mirror position) and seat-heaters.
Other options include cooled front seats ($1400), digital TV tuner ($1490), AMG carbon-fibre or aluminium interior trim ($1490), security alarm ($990), a sports exhaust ($590) and Designo Diamond White or Hyacinth Red premium paintwork at $2990.
No-cost options include downsizing the alloy rims to 19-inch, removal of the side steps and switching from black ash to light brown, piano black or aluminium. A ski bag is $490, as is the scented air balance cabin purification system.
According to the spec sheet, the GLC Coupe’s sleeker shape has not reduced luggage space by much, with 500 litres available while the rear seats are in place (down 50L) and 1400L with them folded (losing 200L compared with the wagon). 40:20:40 split-fold rear seats are as practical as ever here, with remote folding from buttons in the boot and by the rear doors.
Under the cargo blind it is identical in terms of space to the wagon but as we found due to a house move while we had the GLC Coupe, taller items such as tea chests need to be positioned as close to the rear seat backrest as possible to avoid fouling the raked rear window. Still, it is a minor price to pay for those desiring the sportier look, and the GLC wagon’s boot is oddly shallow anyway. Treat it like a sedan and you won’t be disappointed.
A similar story happens inside, where shoulder, leg and elbow room match the wagon. Rear headroom is slightly compromised, but not enough to worry those of above-average height whom we transported in the back. They also had plenty of kneeroom. The central rear position, which is OK for adults in the wagon, is worst affected and suitable for small people only in the coupe.
We were also pleasantly surprised to find the apex of the roof positioned cleverly to avoid a squashed rear door opening, making it easy to install child seats and their occupants without feeling as though we were threading a wriggly and uncooperative needle.
The view out for little ones wasn’t great, due to the high beltline and sloping side window shape, but there are worse non-coupe SUV offenders in this regard.
All in all the fastback GLC is commendably free of coupe compromises, with everything else familiar from the GLC wagon and in turn the C-Class, which is a good thing. Attention to detail, quality finishes, neat design touches and a genuine sense of occasion.
We can see where Mercedes was going when it specified this car for the press fleet, all imposing black-on-black exterior with similarly moody interior – that was so black it got a bit plain – but in the grip of a Queensland summer heatwave, our thighs felt like the snags at a Bunnings sausage sizzle and the less said about our tide-marked t-shirts the better.
Trust us, we rued the $1400 not spent on chilled seats. It was so bad we had to double-check the spec sheet to see whether this was man-made leather or the real thing. It’s real, but not the most convincing or plushest stuff we’ve sat on. Hard-wearing maybe.
On the other hand, the quality of materials, down to the beautifully carpeted boot – beneath the floor of which is neatly laid-out emergency equipment, storage aids and user manual – is proper luxury car stuff.
From the driver’s seat only the most curious hands can find a hard plastic surface, apart from jarringly sharp edges around the steering wheel adjustment release handle.
Like the wagon, the GLC Coupe’s rear quarters are subjected to hard plastics in places where soft-touch abounds in the front, but Mercedes has beaten most other brands by matching the textures so exactly that they are indistinguishable by to the naked eye. Everything else is just as expensive feeling, including the cheese-grater metal speaker grilles (watch your knuckles) of the Burmester audio system that, we reckon, doesn’t sound quite as good as premium systems offered by Audi, Lexus or Jaguar.
Also consistent with the GLC wagon is the excellent level of interior storage, including the countless ways of holding various types of drink vessels.
The glovebox is of reasonable capacity, likewise the two-tier bin beneath the front central armrests that houses two USB sockets and thoughtful inclusion of an elastic strap to secure items. There is more storage in the rear central armrest, with those in the back also having access to large door bins – more drinks holding here – and map pockets.
Ventilation for those in the back is excellent, providing two adjustable vents to supplement the generous flow from up front. Just as well in the hot conditions of our test.
The coupe comes a cropper with rear visibility, the huge C-pillars and letterbox-like window creating huge blind-spots, so it is just as well Mercedes has fitted a high-resolution 360-degree camera views plus parking sensors all round and one of the most intelligent automated parking systems we have encountered. These systems are not infallible, though, for example when reversing into a single car garage.
Different drivers variously found the infotainment system easy or confusing to use, with some enjoying the attractive, crisp graphics, accurate voice recognition and the handwriting entry function of the touchpad and others questioning why there are so many ways to perform the same function. We could agree that the well-judged number of shortcut buttons made for minimal distraction while on the move and liked the fact Mercedes provides an obvious off button that instantly kills both audio and the display.
The head-up display meant we rarely had to look at the instrument panel – providing we were not wearing polarised sunglasses – but when we did the dials were clear and the trip computer could be easily configured to display a logical combination of data.
Road, wind and engine noise levels are all respectably low, even on coarse-chip country roads.
We would avoid the black-on-black theme, not least because the GLC interior requires a bit of colour to look its best. But it is otherwise difficult to pick fault with, which is quite an achievement considering the stark difference in external appearance between the practical GLC wagon and its rakish Coupe cousin.
Engine and transmission
Under the bonnet of the GLC250d Coupe is a 2.1-litre twin-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine producing 150kW at 4200rpm and 500Nm between 1600 and 1800rpm. A nine-speed automatic transmission sends rotation to the rubber through Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.
Apart from cold start – not that any were truly cold considering the climatic conditions – or when observed from outside, this engine disguises the fact it is a diesel pretty well in terms of quietness, smoothness, refinement, linearity, willingness to rev and throttle response.
It is mostly the early onset of huge torque that gives the game away and even though the peak lasts just 200rpm, the fact it has nine gear ratios to choose from means it can spend more time in the sweet spot for effortless progress.
There’s punchy acceleration available at a moment’s notice, even in Eco or Comfort mode.
Plenty of performance is on tap at all times, and even during the dynamic test we would have been greedy asking for more power considering Australia’s low speed limits.
Compared with a petrol GLC wagon we have also tested, the diesel’s torque output means it actually gets to use ninth gear at legal speeds. The slipperier coupe shape probably helps here, too. But this transmission seems so much happier when paired with the diesel than it did in our previous, petrol-powered GLC.
In Sport and particularly Sport+ mode the GLC Coupe feels as though it has suddenly shed about 400kg, with much crisper responses, even readier acceleration and snap-quick, quite violent gear changes up or down when either left in automatic mode or when using the paddle-shifters.
We found the transmission intelligent enough to do its job seamlessly while we got on with steering and braking during the dynamic part of our test route.
Particularly in either of the Sport modes.
At all other times, the transmission unobtrusively worked away in the background and contributed to a pleasantly smooth drive.
Ride and handling
With firmer standard springs than the GLC wagon but adjustable adaptive damping as standard, there is no denying the coupe rides firmly even on its plushest suspension setting. Some may prefer a more soft-riding vehicle but the GLC never subjected us to unpleasant thumping or crashiness over bumps and in any case, the coupe theme is at odds with magic carpet comfort.
It polishes off sharp-edged impacts with ease regardless of speed, being comfortable enough around town but as settled on the motorway as any German car. And the bottoming out we experienced on a GLC wagon was absent, as was the rear-end bounce that car exhibited after one particularly brutal double-humped crest on our road test route.
On fast, twisty country roads in the damp conditions of our test we found it best to drive using Individual mode with the suspension set to Comfort, with the steering and drivetrain set to Sport.
In the Sport or Sport+ modes the poor surfaces and low grip felt too skittish but the Comfort mode allowed the car to breathe with road imperfections and provide more predictability without allowing much loss of body control. It is a worthwhile trade off for the beautifully natural feel and sense that it is at home among less-than-perfect Australian road conditions.
Sport mode steering is meatier, feels a bit quicker to respond off-centre and in contrast to the wagon, delivers an additional layer of feedback when the front tyres begin to break away to make the most of the coupe’s quicker steering ratio.
Comfort mode steering lacks that sense of urgency, but some drivers may enjoy the way its more laid-back feel allows them to take their time with the more measured inputs this setting encourages.
As well as the commendably interactive steering, there is plenty of feedback for the keen driver through the chassis. The GLC Coupe is at least as dynamically engaging as its impressive wagon stablemate and certainly lives up to its looks. It is fun and adjustable, its rear-drive sedan underpinnings shining through when the going gets twisty.
While the Sport modes understandably add some brittleness to the ride, in Comfort and Eco modes the fact this car rides on 20-inch run-flat tyres belies an excellent ability to isolate occupants from the worst effects of bumpy surfaces without muting the messages coming from the rubber on the road.
At the same time, there is an underlying sense of safety and stability. For example our test route includes some poorly maintained fast corners that are variously patchy, rippled, ridged or a combination of all three.
In these conditions, the GLC Coupe was not given to the squirming or being bounced off line as many vehicles are and quickly recovered from pre- and mid-corner hits, including a vicious raised drain cover at the bottom of a steep hill that is hit at 100km/h with the suspension already compressed just before a sweeping uphill right-hander.
Of course there is always a sense of this SUV’s high centre of gravity but it’s a precise thing to drive quickly and has a bit of playfulness about the chassis that we’d like to see more access to through an even more relaxed stability and traction control setting than is provided in Sport+.
Those forking out for the AMG variants will no doubt have access to this, along with the kind of firepower that will truly exploit this engaging but surprisingly comfortable chassis setup.
Safety and servicing
ANCAP awarded the GLC wagon a maximum five-star rating, with 95 per cent for adult occupant protection, 89 per cent for child occupant protection, 82 per cent for pedestrian protection and 71 per cent for safety assistance features.
Complimenting the usual Mercedes-Benz alphabet soup of electronic safety and stability aids, the GLC250d Coupe comes with 360-degree cameras, nine airbags, collision prevention assistance, Pre-Safe braking assistance and blind spot monitoring.
Mercedes-Benz capped price servicing lasts up to three years or 75,000 kilometres, with maintenance intervals at 12 months or 25,000 kilometres. Using prices quoted at the time of writing, the first visit costs $496 and the next two are both $892.
The standard warranty lasts three years with unlimited kilometres.
The GLC wagon is an astonishingly complete product and the Coupe extends that appeal to those who desire something that lives up to the ‘sport’ part of ‘sports utility vehicle’.
Really, the only fault we could pick with our test car could be easily fixed by not choosing an all-black interior. If that colour scheme is your taste, spend a little extra on cooled seats and thank us next summer.
The reduction in usable boot space is a minor compromise that people buying a car of this shape will happily accept.
Regardless of what people think about coupe-SUVs, they are here to stay. And the GLC cannot be easily accused of prioritising fashion over function.
BMW X4 xDrive20d from $77,000 plus on-road costs
Less expensive but less powerful than the Benz. That said, for a few hundred bucks more than the cost our test vehicle came to with options, you could have the full-house 35d variant with awesome six-cylinder diesel grunt and oodles of standard equipment. But the GLC still has the edge on practicality and ride comfort.
Range Rover Velar from $70,300 plus on-road costs
This will probably be sold out for months by the time it launches in Australia at the end of 2017. Sitting between the Evoque and Rangie Sport, this sleek SUV will have the popular Mercedes GLC in its crosshairs. Don’t be fooled by the $70K start price, the entry variant has cloth seats.
Range Rover Evoque Convertible Td4 180 SE Dynamic from $85,343 plus on-road costs
Can’t wait for the Velar? The ultimate in lifestyle SUVs is already here and like the GLC Coupe, provides a level of practicality at odds with the looks.
That is, unless you want to put anything in the boot.
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