2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe: The sporty SUV
The Mercedes GLC Coupe, with the “SUV-coupé” styling, joins its bigger sibling, the GLE Coupe, to take on their German rivals, the BMW X6 and X4.
The Coupe shares its structure and some parts with the GLC SUV, but gets a sportier bumper design, a more angled windscreen and an attractive silhouette. In terms of the dimensions, the Coupe is 80mm longer and 40mm shorter than the regular GLC. Getting an SUV to carry off a coupé body style is always a challenge, but the GLC Coupe has managed it. The design lines give the impression of a well-toned athlete.
Going up against its main rival, the BMW X4, which is yet to be launched in India, the GLC Coupe has a lot going for it in terms of proportions and styling detail. While the standard GLC SUV gets the regular twin-bar grille design, the Coupe gets Mercedes’ sportier “diamond” grille look. Large air inlets on the front bumper add to the sporty character.
At the rear, the narrow, horizontal split tail-lights are similar to the S-class Coupe. The exhaust tips have been integrated into the rear bumper itself.
The interiors are typical Mercedes. You get electric seat controls and a display screen. In the case of the latter, however, the placement gives the impression that it is an “afterthought”. Since the interiors are based on the C-class, the fit and finish of everything is of superior quality.
With a sharp coupé roofline, the headroom in sports SUVs is generally not great, but Mercedes claims that the Coupe’s shoulder room, elbow room and legroom are all identical to its more practical SUV sibling—and sitting inside it does bear this out. It’s wide, spacious and plush. The driver’s seat is especially comfortable and, even after a full day of driving, we felt quite relaxed.
We were, however, eager to see how the car handles fast highways, tight city space and off-road conditions. With a Coupe and some beautiful Italian roads, we could not resist. Mercedes calls the GLC Coupe a sports car among SUVs, and the car does have a sporty edge to it. The Aosta valley’s twisty mountain roads brought out the car’s quick steering and composure. The car we drove had the Dynamic Body Control sports suspension and—uniquely in this segment—the Coupe also offers an optional air suspension system.
For the most part, we drove the car in the Sport mode, which adjusts the suspension, steering, engine and gearbox for a lively driving experience. But the suspension felt sporty even in the Comfort mode. The ride quality was hard to judge given that the city roads and highways, even the mountain roads, were superbly surfaced, unlike most Indian roads. The only bad road surfaces we encountered were small ruts or surface cracks, and nothing like the poor-quality roads in India, and this will make a difference to the driving experience in the country.
Will the GLC Coupe find many takers? Well, there will always be those who will simply want a pure SUV experience out of an SUV. But the new segment is growing, and for those keen on an SUV-coupe’s sporty experience, the GLC Coupe is quite a compelling choice.
Set to launch in India next year, it may not have a direct rival for some time, given the absence of the BMW X4. And considering that its launch price is expected to be over Rs.60 lakh, there are other SUVs you can consider in this price range, including Mercedes’ larger GLE. But if your reasons for buying an SUV include standout value and sporty driving, the GLC Coupe fits the bill neatly.