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New York show: Benz GLC Coupe is no BMW X4 clone

Sports focussed: Mercedes says the GLC Coupe will appeal to a buyer that appreciates sporty and dynamic performance.

Mercedes says sporty design, sharp handling separate GLC Coupe and BMW X4


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29 Mar 2016


MERCEDES-BENZ has denied that its new GLC Coupe is just a copycat of version of BMW’s swoopy X4 crossover, saying that such a vehicle was always in the company’s SUV strategy for some time.

Speaking with Australian journalists at the New York motor show last week, Mercedes-Benz GLC chief engineer Michael Kelz said that discussions for a coupe-style SUV started when the overall architectural strategy was being discussed more than six years ago, well before the X4 made its market debut in 2014.

“We always have had our own coupe strategy,” Mr Kelz said. “And the GLC Coupe is definitely a competitor to the X4 no doubt. But we have our own ideas about how a car like that has to drive, and how a car like that has to look.”

While acknowledging that many pundits will compare the GLC Coupe to its obvious Bavarian rival, Mr Kelz said he believes that the Mercedes SUV’s sportiness will immediately set it apart from the others.

“It is always interesting to compare, but on the other hand, we think we are on the right path with our Mercedes way, so for us it is very important that with the Coupe design, also we would have a more sporty car, so we would have certain shift towards sportiness, and so we took everything into account to make this possible.

“So finally we changed the steering ratio on the car, so we have more direct steering in the car (it’s at 15.1:1 in the GLC Coupe instead of the GLC Wagon’s 16.1:1) we have the mixed tyres on the car which makes it sportier we have the sports seats in the car to give it a sportier flavour and we have the Dynamic Body Control in the car, which gives it a nice substitute to a regular sports drive, with variable continuous dampening system for more comfort.

“And so finally, with these four things, especially designated to this car, we think we have the right stuff in the portfolio to build a car like that.”

Mr Kelz said the GLC Coupe’s optional Dynamic Body Control – a system with steel springs and adjustable dampers that counteract leaning forces, lowers the vehicle’s centre of gravity, as well as offers a suppler ride quality when required – will set it apart from competitors vying for the driving enthusiast.

Air suspension will also be available, lowering the ride height by 15mm in Sport+ mode for reduced bodyroll and a more-hunkered down attitude.

“The Dynamic Body Control we first launched in the new E-Class E400, we now bring it to the GLC, and we think for the most sporty drivers, we have a nice combination there, so it is taking Mercedes’ confidence and Mercedes’ drive ideas out of the box, and bringing it to that car.”

One similarity between the GLC Coupe and the BMW X4 is their limited off-road capability, despite the Benz having a 45mm-higher ground clearance than the C-Class sedan and wagon, but Mr Kelz said buyers looking to head to trickier terrain might be better off in the regular GLC.

“If you look at the wheel sizes, the C-Class has 660mm wheels and the GLC Coupe is driving on 750mm, so you have a difference of 90mm, and half of that is clearance, so that is about 45mm higher,” Mr Kelz said.

“And as we were coming from the GLC wagon itself, we did not need the off-road packages the longer design of the Coupe and its extra rear overhang would not give owners the opportunity for a very strong departure angle… we would need to do another design. In every other way, it is as capable as the GLC wagon.” The GLC Coupe will arrive in Australian Benz showrooms in December this year and sit under the larger GLE Coupe in the line-up.

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