Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe: Niche to know you...
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THE FASTBACK-STYLED GLC COUPE COMPLETES THE SUV PUZZLE FOR MERCEDES-BENZ
Don't make the mistake of thinking this is a less practical GLC SUV. It simply isn't about practicality.
Mercedes-Benz says the GLC Coupe, which launches in New Zealand this week and which Driven sampled in Australia recently, is an entirely different proposition to what has become one of the German carmaker's true success stories.
Launched here about this time last year, the mid-size GLC SUV leapfrogged several other Mercedes-Benz models to become the second-best selling variant in the range after the perennial C-Class.
That's no real surprise to the local distributor of course, which was crying out for a more compact SUV to do battle with similarly proportioned models from rivals BMW and Audi (the X3 and Q5 respectively).
So now we have this. A slopey-backed and distinctly sportier take on the GLC. Think fashion-forward rather than family first.
Interestingly, the boot remains quite deep and broad despite that raked silhouette behind the c-pillar. But it'll be skis rather than strollers that get stowed there. In fact, it's quite remarkable how different the Coupe looks when compared with the SUV, despite two-thirds of the sheet metal being nearly identical.
The Coupe is longer and lower and, even in entry-level GLC 220d guise, it arrives with plenty of bling boxes ticked. Every model (there are three) gets 20-inch AMG multi-spoke alloy wheels, Mercedes-Benz's "diamond" grille and an AMG Line body kit straight out of the box.
... to know you, niche
Although you can buy a GLC SUV in a sober, don't-offend-the-neighbours state of dress, every iteration of the coupe has the "look at my amazing car!" factor built in.
Available at launch is a 155kW/350Nm turbo petrol GLC 250 and two turbo diesels featuring the same 2143cc four-cylinder engine in different states of tune; the 125kW/400Nm GLC 220d and the 150kW/500Nm GLC 250d.
All boast 4MATIC all-wheel-drive, the manufacturer's 9G-TRONIC automatic gearbox and come with plenty of kit besides.
It'll be no surprise to learn that a high-performance AMG version is on the cards, too; the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupe will be here in a couple of months and will cost $123,900 (its arrival coinciding with an AMG version of the GLC SUV, which will be $6500 cheaper).
As is the way with any Mercedes-Benz, you can let your pen do the talking on the extensive options list, but each of the three GLC Coupes features an automatic boot, a premium sound system, integrated Garmin Map Pilot satellite navigation, a 360-degree camera and parking sensors, keyless start, an LED Intelligent Light System with adaptive high beam and plenty of other high-tech stuff. The 250 models add leather and more safety equipment in the form of the Driver Assistance Package Plus.
The modern Mercedes-Benz feature set is impressive and there's no exception here. But differences between the SUV and Coupe are more than skin deep. This feels like a different vehicle on the road, too. That's not surprising when you consider the suspension systemerrs on the side of sporty rather than soft. Even in the "Comfort" setting in the car's Dynamic Select system, the ride over the rural Victorian roads we traversed during the media launch drive was noticeably firmer.
It's a fun steer though; you sit in it, not on it, so it doesn't feel like a jacked-up SUV. In fact, slip the Dynamic Select into Sport or Sport+ mode on a twisty backroad and its C-Class engineering undergarments are revealed. The speed-sensitive steering feels faster and sharper here than in the SUV; it's a longer car but it feels nippier and firmly planted on the road in fast, flowing corners. Overall the GLC Coupe is cheaper than its BMW X4 rivals (which range in price from $94,900 to $128,000, although with a straight six on offer in its top X4 xDrive 35d M Sport, Bavaria's best foot forward boasts more power than the GLC equivalent).
And elsewhere in the segment? Er ... well, no you're not missing
Niche to meet you
anything; there are only the two options in the SUV-with-rakish-Coupe-styling sub-set.
When it arrived late last year, the GLC proved a bit of a gateway drug; the majority of people purchasing the mid-sizer being new to the Benz brand. Although anticipating the new Coupe will only make up about 20 per cent of overall GLC sales, the distributor reckons these buyers, too, will quite likely never have bought a Mercedes-Benz before.
So taken together, that's a lot of new customers and - more importantly - that's a lot of conquest sales snatched out from under the Stuttgart firm's Euro rivals.
Mercedes-Benz's parent company Daimler AG has admitted in the past that it underestimated the impact SUVs would have, and that's why it has been playing catch-up for the last couple of years. With the arrival of the GLC Coupe, however, it would appear - for now - all the possible SUV gaps have been plugged.
As for catching up, it has successfully done that. And in the case of the GLC SUV and Coupe, it has overtaken everyone else.
MERCEDES-BENZ GLC COUPE
ENGINE: 2143cc four-cylinder turbo diesel (125kW/400Nm), 1991cc four-cylinder turbo petrol (155kW/350Nm), 2143cc four-cylinder turbo diesel (150kW/500Nm)
PRICES: $98,900 (GLC 220d), $103,900 (GLC 250), $105,900 (GLC 250d)
Pro: Comprehensive feature set, sporty character, something (almost) unique in the market
Con: Less practical than the GLC SUV, Fashion-forward now but will it age well?