By Jonathan Crouch
In 2016, Mercedes used its GLC mid-sized SUV as a base for this sportier, more stylish GLC Coupe variant. It's better to drive as well as being sportier to look at and the practical compromises necessitated by the sleeker shape are relatively modest. Providing you can afford the asking prices, you'll find that the sensible stuff adds up too.
5dr SUV (2.1 diesel [GLC 220d/ GLC 250d] / 3.0 diesel [GLC 350d] / 3.0 petrol [GLC 43 AMG] / 4.0 petrol [GLC 63 AMG)
The market is now getting used to the idea of a Coupe SUV - and so is Mercedes. This GLC Coupe, launched in 2016, was the brand's second stab at that concept, following the 2015 launch of the larger GLE Coupe. This swept-back GLC was launched to counter BMW's X4. In taking on that car, this one was helped by the option it offered of the kind of sophisticated air suspension system that BMW couldn't match, the kind of thing previously limited to much larger and more expensive SUVs.
In fact, there was much about this car that democratised pricier SUV luxury, whether customer focus was on media connectivity, cutting edge safety or cabin aesthetics. All of this, borrowed of course from the conventional GLC, was wrapped up in a far more stylish package that still managed to be practical to a point that conventional coupe customers could once have only dreamed of. In its original form, this GLC Coupe sold until early 2019, when an updated version was launched. It's the pre-facelift car we look at here.
What You Get
Come to this car expecting it to be little more than a GLC SUV with a coupe-style rear end and you may well be pleasantly surprised by the lengths to which the designers went to give this sportier body style its own identity. The basic architecture used here is of course exactly the same as that of the more conventional SUV model, but the GLC Coupe is far more dynamic in appearance, measuring in 4cms lower and nearly 8cms longer than its design stablemate.
The front end is different too, primarily in its use of a feature that distinguishes other Mercedes coupes - a distinctive single-louvred grille patterned with pins that are either black or chrome-plated, depending on the trim level you've selected. Either side sit headlamps featuring full LED technology for both the main beam and the daytime running lights. More predictably, the rear is completely bespoke too, with the upright hatch of the conventional GLC replaced in this Coupe model by a far sleeker and more deeply-raked look that produces a wind-cheating 0.31Cd drag factor and aims to replicate the style of Mercedes' exotic S-Class Coupe. Inevitably though, it's in profile that this GLC Coupe really differentiates itself from the standard model. We've talked about the lower roof height and at a glance, you take in the more steeply-raked A-pillars, the high beltline, the wide shoulders and the way the roofline falls away towards the rear.
At the wheel, you sit a little lower than you would in an ordinary GLC but otherwise, as you might expect, the cabin layout is shared almost identically with that car - which means it's very nice indeed. Take a look around once you're comfortably seated on the supportive ARTICO-leather trimmed seats and the two staples of current Mercedes cabin style are present and correct. There are five round silver-trimmed air vents and above the three in the centre sits a prominent iPad-style infotainment screen, its free-standing positioning smacking either of after-thought or inspired design, depending on your point of view. Anything the infotainment display can't tell you will be covered off by the smaller colour screen that nestles between the two deeply-cowled dials offered by the instrument binnacle.
On the rear seats, it's far more spacious than anything branded as a 'coupe' would normally be. Yes, six-footers will find their heads brushing the roof but they'll be far better off in this regard than they would be in Mercedes' supposedly larger GLE Coupe. And luggage space? Well it's accessed via a standard electrically-operated tailgate. Mercedes obviously benchmarked BMW's X4 here, for the load capacities on offer match those of that Munich model exactly. Specifically, you're talking 500-litres, which is only 50-litres less than a conventional GLC model can offer.
What You Pay
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What to Look For
Most GLC Coupe owners in our survey were satisfied, but inevitably, there were some who'd experienced problems. The most common problem we came across seems to be an inherent fault with all right hand drive GLCs; if you turn full lock, left or right, the outside tyre skips and jumps. The larger the wheel the noisier it is. This is a basic steering geometry issue and you need to check for it on your test drive. One owner replaced all brake disks due to bad vibration. A month ago the power steering stopped working as he went around a bend and the car had to be towed away prior to a complete replacement steering rack. In another instance, an owner's gearbox failed.
Otherwise, it's just the usual stuff. Check for signs of damage to the bodywork and alloy wheels. Even though all GLCs came with parking sensors, there may be some and top-spec variants with wide alloy rims are particularly prone to scratches. Check for uneven panel gaps and paint flaws. Inspect the electrics and the air conditioning functionality - it should blow our really chilled air. Some owners in our survey complained of un-Mercedes-like squeaks and rattles; try the car you have in mind across a bumpy bit of road to try and expose any nasty noises.
(approx based on a 2016 GLC Coupe 220d - Ex Vat) A fuel filter is around £105. Front brake pads sit in the £82 bracket for a set. Rear brake discs can cost in the £330 bracket. An oil filter is around £8-£10. A radiator costs in the £155-£250 bracket.
On the Road
Mercedes made a few dynamic changes in order for this GLC Coupe model to feel a little sportier than its conventional counterpart. So there's a standard sports suspension set-up that was re-tuned for this variant, plus this Coupe body style got a lower ride height and wider track, along with a re-tuned steering rack. It certainly all makes a difference, though not quite enough of one for this Mercedes to quite be able to match the agility of rivals like BMW's X4 and Porsche's Macan. Get a car whose original owner spent a little extra on the optional 'AIR BODY CONTROL' air suspension system though, and this GLC gets closer to the dynamic class standard while at the same time being able to offer ride comfort that's significantly nicer than anything competitors can offer.
'AIR BODY CONTROL' operates via the various modes of a system that Mercedes calls 'DYNAMIC SELECT', one of those set-ups that allows you to alter steering feel, gearchange timings and throttle response at the press of a button. You'll need to get familiar with this in order to get the most from the performance provided by the range of engines available. Most buyers will opt for one of the four cylinder diesels, either the base 170bhp 220d or the 204bhp 250d variant. Both units are pretty efficient, managing 56.5mpg n the combined cycle and as much as 131g/km of CO2 (both NEDC figures). There's also a 258bhp six cylinder 350d diesel - or at the top of the range, a petrol-powered option, the 258bhp Mercedes-AMG GLC Coupe 43 model. As standard, all derivatives get 4MATIC 4WD and an efficient 9G-TRONIC PLUS 9-speed automatic gearbox.
A model of this sort will continually divide opinion. The folk who don't like it will tell you to save your money and buy a cheaper, more practical GLC - but then they're probably the same people who can't see the point of anything prioritising style over substance. In any case, this GLC Coupe does have substance to its proposition - at least when it comes to technology, quality and low running costs. Like its BMW X4 arch-rival, it's even reasonably spacious and practical.
In summary, what we've got here is a very complete contender indeed. Nobody actually needs a SUV Coupe of this kind, but then nobody actually needs a more conventionally-styled fashionable SUV either: there are plenty of 4WD estates that would do the job just as well. Typical buyers though, take the SUV route because it makes a little more of a driveway statement. Which means that typical buyers with the necessary budget, are probably going to like this car very much indeed.
So you want a mid-sized 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 the revised version.
Ten Second Review
Mercedes used its GLC mid-sized SUV as a base for this sportier, more stylish GLC Coupe variant - and has now improved this stylish package. It's better to drive as well as being sporty to look at and the practical compromises necessitated by the sleeker shape are relatively modest. Providing you can afford the asking prices, you'll find that the sensible stuff adds up too.
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 in 2016 announced its own spin on the X4, the GLC Coupe, a car substantially improved in Spring 2019 to create the car we're going to look at here.
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 SUV 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, sports car-like handling when you're in a hurry. All models feature 4MATIC 4WD. For highway use, there are now more semi-autonomous driving assistance systems. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Steer Assist provide even more support to help the driver to steer and to keep a safe distance.
Under the bonnet, Mercedes has worked on making the engine range more powerful and more fuel efficient than before and the mainstream part of the line-up is based around four-cylinder units and drive will be supplied through a standard 9-speed automatic gearbox. A 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol unit features in the 258hp GLC 300, which now uses the Mercedes' EQ 48-volt mild hybrid system. Here, there's an integrated starter/alternator unit that can recover up to 10kW of energy when decelerating, which can then be deployed below 2,500prm to reduce the effort required of the combustion engine. The two main diesel options are the 194hp GLC 220d and the 245hp GLC 300d, which get the brand's latest 2.0-litre diesel, replacing the previous 2.1-litre unit. The GLC 300de diesel plug-in hybrid would be an interesting alternative to diesel power. And at the top of the range sit the sporting Mercedes-AMG models, either the 390hp six cylinder '43' or the eight cylinder '63' flagship variant, offered in either 476hp standard guise or 510hp 'S' form.
Design and Build
The main styling change is the adoption of standard full-LED headlamps. Otherwise, design-wise, things are much as before. 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.
Inside, the GLC Coupe now gets the latest version of Mercedes's MBUX infotainment system. This means that the centre-dash display, which has grown from 8.4 inches to 10.25 inches, is now touch sensitive, and can respond to both gesture and more detailed voice commands. A 12.3-inch digital driver's instrument binnacle display is now offered in place of the previous car's analogue gauges, and its three sections can be customised to display different information. These menus can be accessed through the updated steering wheel, which features a mix of physical and touch-sensitive controls first seen on the E-Class. The cabin also features a couple of new material options, including two new wood finishes for the dashboard.
Standards of shoulder, elbow and legroom are the same as in an ordinary GLC at 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 just over £45,000 for the entry-level GLC Coupe 220d. 'AMG Line' is standard trim, then there are 'AMG Premium', 'AMG Premium Plus' and 'AMG Ultimate' options. There's a choice of two diesel variants in the mainstream range - the 220d and the 300d - plus a GLC 300 2.0-litre petrol model and a GLC 300de diesel plug-in hybrid. All GLC Coupes 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. If you can stretch to the sporting Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 (V6) or GLC 63 (V8) variants (priced from around £53,000), there's a choice of standard, 'Premium' or 'Premium Plus' trim levels.
Standard equipment on all variants includes a 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 tailgate and a 'Mirror package' consisting of electrically operated and automatically dimming mirrors. Safety-wise, there's a full rosta of electronic shields that scan the road ahead and prevent you from having an accident. Things like the 'COLLISON PREVENTION PLUS' system, plus the 'Crosswind Assist' set-up and the 'ATTENTION ASSIST' system. Optional is the 'DISTRONIC PLUS' radar cruise control system - with 'STEERING ASSIST' to keep you in lane and a 'Stop & Go' feature that'll slow the car automatically and start it off again if you come across a motorway tailback.
Cost of Ownership
This GLC has to be competitive when it comes to WLTP running costs - and is. The running costs of GLC Coupe 220d and 300d models are similar. The range starts with the GLC 220d which delivers 48.7mpg on the WLTP combined cycle and up to 167g/km of CO2. The GLC 300d achieves up to 44.1mpg and up to 182g/km. For the petrol GLC 300, the figures are up to 34.9mpg and up to 196g/km.
The GLC 30d0e petrol plug-in has an WLTP-rated electric driving range of 27 miles while delivering up to 148.7mpg and emitting just 50g/km of CO2. The 13.5 kW battery and 7.4kw on-board charger means the GLC 300de can be charged via a 7.4 kW wallbox in under two hours.
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 mid-sized SUV coupe. In practice though, it's a very enticing formula indeed, especially in the improved 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.