I’ve never understood the SUV-coupe genre. They’re about as functional as a hollow plastic hammer, offering neither the cabin space of a conventional SUV, nor the dynamism of a low-slung coupe.
So, why do so many manufacturers build the things? Simple. There are buyers out there who want them, so why wouldn’t the carmakers oblige by churning them out? There are economies of scale to leverage, too, as the platforms and drivetrains are sourced from existing models, so the only major cost for the car companies is to design and engineer a unique bodyshell.
Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that, but the point is that it doesn’t cost the manufacturers an exorbitant amount of money to come up with these genre-bending vehicles.
Exhibit A is the new GLC Coupe, which, as the name suggests, is derived from the GLC wagon that last year replaced the venerable GLK. It only takes a solitary glance at the accompanying images to glean the newbie’s roofline and overall profile is similar in theme –- if not execution –- to the BMW X4 that launched here a couple of years ago.
Although the GLC Coupe shares its bonnet, front fenders and lower door panels with its conventional GLC stablemate, it sports a more heavily raked windscreen and a plunging roofline that does much for its looks, albeit at a significant cost to rear-seat headroom and luggage capacity.
Measuring 4732mm from bumper to bumper and 1600mm high, the GLC Coupé is 60mm longer and 30mm lower than the X4, contributing towards a more dramatic visual presence than the angular BeeEm. Our test car’s stance was also nicely beefed up by a tasty set of optional 20-inch AMG multispoke rims.
The extra-cost goodies as fitted to the tester included an AMG Line exterior trim package, aluminium-look running boards and an EXCLUSIVE interior. The two-tone (black-and-red) leather seats are superbly comfortable, and there’s ample adjustability in all directions. The flat-bottomed multifunction wheel is also nice to hold, although the rim is a bit thicker than it really needs to be.
The rear seats are best left to the junior brigade, as headroom is a bit restricted by the low roofline, and the seatbacks are too upright to be comfortable for anything more than short trips across town. The materials used throughout the cabin are generally of high quality, although there is some hard plastic that Mercedes has thrown in here and there as a cost-cutting measure.
There’s more design flair in the cabin than you’d find in an Audi or BMW, with lovely looking rotary air vents, and aesthetically pleasing use of wood (or perhaps it’s faux timber; hard to tell) and aluminium trim highlights.
Mercedes-Benz claims the boot can swallow up to 500 litres of luggage, but this obviously wasn’t the case in our test car, as the spare wheel sat right in the centre of the load bay. The electrically operated tailgate also refused to respond to repeated presses of the appropriate button on the key fob. The tailgate-release switch inside the cabin did the trick though.
Propulsion for the GLC 250 Coupe is provided by a 2.0-litre turbo engine that ekes out 211 hp and 350 Nm –- the same engine that does duty in the C-Class. Although the SUV-coupe weighs more than the C 250, it’s a sprightly performer, as reflected by a 0-100 kph split of 7.3 seconds and top whack of 222 kph.
Apart from slight lag at low revs, the turbo four-pot is a punchy performer across the rev range, with its fat quota of 350 Newtons on tap from 1200-4000 rpm. The 9G-Tronic nine-speed auto is a capable ally, slurring through the ratios smoothly and unobtrusively. There are also nicely tactile alloy shift paddles to play with if you like to do your own shifting.
All in all, the GLC Coupe is an enjoyable thing to drive. The elevated stance and added girth means it’s obviously not as sharp as a C-Class when you fling it around, but body roll is still well controlled and there’s more than enough grip from the chunky optional Michelin rubber (255/45ZR20 at the front and 285/40ZR20 at the rear) to enable brisk progress across twisty backroads.
As alluded to earlier, the GLC Coupe isn’t particularly practical or utilitarian, but its offbeat profile is far more distinctive than a C-Class sedan or conventional GLC, and this in itself will be enough of a hook for many buyers.
It’s a purchase of heart over head, and if you think of it as such, the GLC Coupe is an attractively packaged and well-engineered vehicle.
For prices and specs, visit the Mercedes-Benz buyer guide.
Photos by Gautam Sharma.