Car reviews - Mercedes-Benz - GLC - range
Silky standard suspension, effortless dynamics, generous standard equipment, uncharacteristically affordable options
Room for improvement
Steep premium over GLC
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10 Nov 2016
WHILE the purpose of the GLC Coupe is to boost Mercedes’ offering in the mid-sized premium SUV market, it has approached it a mercifully simple manner, and the three-variant range aligns almost identically with the GLC wagon range that arrived late last year.
Rather than revisit drivetrain details and the extensive range of tech, comfort and safety equipment that the Coupe shares with the more conventional SUV, let’s focus on what makes the Coupe different and for what Mercedes is asking up to $12,600 extra.
First and most apparent is the GLC Coupe’s roofline which has gone under the knife for a more elegant profile and a tail-end aesthetic that is hard to distinguish from the larger GLE Coupe’s behind.
Its defining feature is complemented by an AMG Line bodykit, 20-inch wheels and more Affalterbach fettling on the interior. Unlike the $3490 extra asked when matched with the regular GLC, the gear is included as standard from entry-level GLC220d through GLC250 to the GLC250d flagship.
The result is an effective enhancement of sporty characteristics and lends a conspicuous presence to the newest GLC arrival – a valuable differentiation considering the price premium, but one we think many Mercedes fans will be willing to stump.
As you might expect, the diving roof-line has thieved some rear-seat head space but with a majority of GLC Coupe trips likely to be a one-plus-one affair or two adults plus kids, the lowered roof is unlikely to pose much of a problem to most occupants.
A tall adult would probably prefer to spend a long trip up front but the second-row seats are cosy and comfortable and the driver’s rearward view is negligibly narrowed by the more letter-box-like rear window.
Elbow, shoulder and knee-room is unaltered compared with the wagon, as is the 500 to 1400-litre boot. Mercedes says the minor functional sacrifices will not be a deterrent to potential customers and we are inclined to agree.
The changes are almost limited to aesthetics but not quite, and in an effort to bolster the GLC Coupe’s dynamic persona, Australian specification vehicles are fitted with Dynamic Body Control sports suspension, which is thrown into the deal for no extra cost.
The addition of the adaptive dampers with stiffer steel springs is an option specially included for Australia with most other market customers being asked to hand over extra cash for the setup, unless included with the AMG Line pack as it is in Australia on the GLC.
Like the GLC wagon, the Coupe offers a versatile selection of engines from the 2.1-litre entry-level diesel that was absent from our launch fleet, and the stronger 250 2.0-litre turbo petrol and two-stage turbo 2.1-litre diesel under the 250d bonnet.
Choose either 250 variants and you will not be frustrated with performance with respectable torque and power characteristics offered by both spark and compression ignition engines but, while performance on paper is unchanged, the more sophisticated suspension has noticeably sharpened the SUV’s chassis.
With a ride more resistant to roll and a more obedient turn-in, the GLC’s dynamics have taken an incremental step-up to match the AMG-enhanced looks without having to boost power (although petrol-heads will celebrate the imminent arrival of AMG43 and mighty AMG63 versions).
We were surprised at how much pace could be carried along winding country roads effortlessly, in comfort and while engaged in conversation.
The recipe of ease-of-use and enjoyable dynamics is enhanced by firm but comfortable seating and a driving position that was more akin to other three-point-badged coupes rather than an SUV – something some of Mercedes’ rivals can’t quite offer to the same degree.
None of our test vehicles were fitted with the optional Airbody Control air suspension and we will reserve judgement until sampled, but such is the excellent blend of ride quality and low cabin noise with fun handling, many customers might find it hard to justify the $2490 premium – even though that is relatively inexpensive.
Other options are also surprisingly affordable, including a sport exhaust for $590, front seat heating, memory and extra adjustment for $1290 or a Comand pack that adds a fantastic Burmester stereo and top-spec 8.4-inch screen and the car-maker’s Comand Online applications.
So let’s do some maths. Take the cost of the AMG Line kit out of the GLC Coupe premium over the GLC and you can surmise that Mercedes is valuing the GLC Coupe’s profile at $9000.
Opting for the Coupe brings all of the likeable features of the wagon GLC including neat build quality, strong engine/transmission combinations and lots of kit without any discerning compromises – as long as you are happy paying $9000 for the most defining but intangible feature.
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