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Driven: Benz ‘coupe crusade’ to continue
Timing the key to sustained coupe variant rollout says Mercedes-Benz
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11 Nov 2016
MERCEDES-BENZ has countered yet another niche model move of arch rival BMW with the X4-fighting GLC Coupe now in Australian showrooms, but the car-maker says it is not simply about matching rival models.
The introduction of the small coupe-profiled SUV follows a similar move by Mercedes in the large-SUV segment last year when its GLE Coupe fired a shot across the BMW X6’s bow, but the coupe curio onslaught is not over yet, the company says.
Speaking at the launch of the new GLC Coupe, Mercedes-Benz Australia public relations and product communications manager Jerry Stamoulis said it was “absolutely not” necessary to immediately offer a competitor to rival models and that intra-brand timing was of greater importance.
“It all comes down to timing and how we see our strategy working out,” he said.
“In an ideal world we would have had all of our compact cars and all of our coupes coming out at the same time, but we couldn’t do that. Instead we banked on the strategy of launching with our compact cars and that strategy has worked.”
The coupe-profiled GLC arrives more than two years after the BMW X4 but Mr Stamoulis said the gap is of no consequence and did not rule out the possibility of Coupe sales matching the GLC wagon, which consistently finds more than 300 homes each month.
For comparison, BMW sells between 100 and 200 X4s each month, while the X3 SUV version attracts a similar audience as the GLC.
It is not publicly known which Mercedes model will be given the coupe re-profiling treatment next but Mr Stamoulis said the company was not done yet.
“We started our coupe crusade with S-Class Coupe. Then we went GLE Coupe, C-Class Coupe and we will keep going.
“It’s about choosing your battles and we believe we went down the right path.
Our competitors have similar cars to ours but we’re still more successful.”
Earlier this year, a leaked Mercedes model roadmap appeared to confirm that an even smaller SUV coupe was on the way and while Mr Stamoulis said a GLA Coupe would be “interesting” he made it clear that nothing had been confirmed.
Australian supply of both GLC and GLC Coupe is constrained by production, which has obscured the model’s true popularity Down Under, but Mr Stamoulis said some of the demand would be met by the new Coupe, particularly customers looking for something a little more sporty.
“It’s realistically a GLC wagon customer who wants a sportier SUV. GLC is a difficult one because we just don’t have the volume for the wagon. By the time we can get the volume there will be a new one. It will get better.
“We are going to see some customers who can’t wait for a GLC wagon and will go for the Coupe. We don’t believe there is a massive compromise in the headroom with the two models and we don’t see it as being a deterrent.”
Unlike the GLC, all versions of the GLC Coupe get 20-inch wheels and a sportier bodykit and interior from the AMG catalogue, plus Dynamic Body Control sports suspension for added pizazz on twisty roads. When optioned for the GLC wagon, the AMG Line pack adds $2990 to the bottom line or $3490 when fitted to the GLC220d.
A power tailgate, Garmin Map Pilot navigation, a 360-degree camera, LED lights all round and unvarnished Black Ask wood interior trim are also highlights of the standard trim offered in the entry-level 220d Coupe.
Compared with the GLC, the Coupe is 80mm longer and 40mm lower to enhance its sporty appearance. Overall height is 1600mm, length is 4730mm and its width measures 2096mm. Wheelbase is unchanged at 2873mm.
Despite its rearward-sloped coupe profile, the GLC Coupe has not sacrificed any luggage space with the same 500 to 1400-litre boot of the GLC. Shoulder, leg and elbow-room are also unchanged but rear seat headroom is slightly reduced.
Beyond the differentiating roof line and sportier specs, the GLC Coupe drivetrain and specification aligns with the wagon sibling, with three variants on offer starting with the GLC220d Coupe from $77,100 before on-road costs.
That price represents a $12,600 increase over the GLC220d and is the largest difference of the range. Jumping into either the $80,100 GLC250 or $82,100 GLC250d costs an extra $12,200, while the range topping $108,900 AMG GLC43 costs and extra $7500.
Power for the most affordable Coupe comes from a 2.1-litre diesel with 125kW and 400Nm on tap and, like every variant, sends grunt to the road via a nine-speed automatic transmission and the company’s 4Matic four-wheel-drive system.
Fuel consumption is rated at 5.8 litres pre 100km with 151g of CO2 produced per kilometre with figures unchanged for the top-performance GLC250d Coupe, despite two-stage turbocharging boosting output to 150kW and 500Nm.
In the middle of the sub-AMG range, the sole petrol also uses a turbocharged four-cylinder displacing 2.0 litres and pumping out 155kW and 350Nm, while using 7.4L/100km and producing 173g of CO2 per km.
Performance pundits will gravitate toward the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 which has the only six-cylinder of the range and produces a hearty 270kW and 520Nm thanks to 3.0 litres of twin-turbocharged V6. Fuel consumption and emissions data is yet to be confirmed.
Full details, including local model performance figures and exact specification will follow closer to the AMG’s arrival in February next year. A full-fat GLC63 Coupe is yet to be finalised for local showrooms but is expected in 2018.
Steel springs with variable dampers and five-mode Dynamic Select driving modes is standard fare for all versions but can be upgraded to multi-chamber Air Body Control air suspension for reduced bodyroll, increased comfort and a function that lowers the boot floor by 40mm for easier loading.
Upholstery is synthetic leather dubbed Artico by Mercedes for the entry-level GLC220d Coupe, but all other variants get the animal-derived version.
Safety features are well represented in the Coupe range with nine airbags, autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and lane departure warning and assistance, pedestrian-protective active bonnet and a 360-degree camera with parking sensors.
Customers can add a vision pack which brings head-up display and a sunroof for $3590, the Command package adds top-spec navigation, Burmester sound system and a larger screen for $2990, while the $1290 seat package more front seat electrical adjustment memory and heaters as well as memory mirrors.
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