Mercedes-Benz has introduced the second generation of its striking midsize coupé-SUV – the GLC Coupé – to the local market. Gareth Dean got behind the wheel of the entry-level GLC 220d model on the local launch in Cape Town to see if Mercedes’ claims of even more arresting looks and involving road manners hold true…
Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d 4Matic Coupé Fast Facts
- Price: R1 392 350
- Engine: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, turbopetrol
- Transmission: 9-speed, dual-clutch automatic
- Power: 145 kW @ 3 600 r/min
- Torque: 440 N.m @ 1 800-2 800r/min
- Driven wheels: all
- Fuel consumption: 5.1 L/100 km
- CO2: 135 g/km
- Rivals: BMW X4, Audi Q5 Sportback, Porsche Macan
What are we driving and what’s new on the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé?
Posted as the sportier sibling to Mercedes’ GLC midsize premium SUV, the second-generation Mercedes-Benz GLC ushers in a raft of aesthetic updates that bring it in line with more contemporary members of the line-up, as well as numerous under-the-skin revisions that align with its sportier positioning. It rides on an enlarged version of the firm’s MRA2 modular platform and has been configured to offer up a more dynamically engaging driving experience courtesy of a new suspension set-up incorporating standard-fitment sports suspension and variable-ratio power steering. Two models – the GLC 300d and GLC 220d driven here – are offered and feature a 2.0-litre version of Mercedes’ OM654 four-cylinder turbodiesel with a 48V mild hybrid system.
What does the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé cost?
Presently, the Mercedes GLC Coupé line-up comprises two models, both in Avantgarde line trim as standard:
- Mercedes-Benz GLC 200d 4Matic Coupé – R1 392 350
- Mercedes-Benz GLC 300d 4Matic Coupé – R1 447 350
From the outside
The GLC Coupé is marketed as the sportier-looking sibling to the GLC, thanks largely to bodywork that incorporates a more coupé-like silhouette than its two-box sibling. There are fewer sharp ‘steps’ to the second-gen model’s styling, with a smoother overall appearance that is furthered by elements such as headlamps that flow into the apexes of the grille (now a three-star-accented, Avantgarde-trim item across the range) and a move from separate taillamps to a now more commonly adopted bridged arrangement. As standard, the GLC Coupé rolls on 18-inch rims, with 19- and 20-inch items offered as AMG Line options. The MRA2 underpinnings, which it shares with the related GLC and C-Class have seen the GLC Coupé grow marginally (31 mm in length, 5 mm in height and with front and rear track widths that are 6 mm and 23 mm wider, respectively). Overall, it’s one of the more visually striking members of the coupé-SUV brigade, especially when finished in metallic hues such as the optional Mistral Blue paintwork.
From the inside
Much like the exterior, the GLC Coupé’s cabin is also an attention-grabbing affair. There are definite nods to this car’s C-Class lineage in terms of the layout, such as the floating instrument and infotainment panels, and eyeball air vents; the latter now sporting a more flattened design. Mercedes claims that updates have been made to the MBUX infotainment system to improve responsiveness and make the interface more navigable. It appears to have worked, with the displays showing little-to-no latency and the voice assistant seems to be less elocution-sensitive to spoken inputs.
Although larger than the outgoing model, the new GLC Coupé doesn’t feel especially larger within. Thankfully, it’s still quite spacious and the raked roofline doesn’t encroach of rear headroom too much, as the six-footer-behind-six-footer test showed, even with the optional panoramic glass roof (a first for the GLC Coupé) fitted. Bootspace is respectable, with Mercedes claiming a 45-litre improvement on the outgoing car’s 500 litres, and the standard fitment of a power tailgate is a welcome touch but its standing in isolation from the optional keyless entry system feels a bit unusual at this price point.
Mercedes’ daring in terms of its willingness to adopt myriad material and design elements in its cabins (our cars featured facias with open-pore wood and matte-chrome pinstriping) can be something of a mixed blessing; they are some of the more interesting interiors in their segments, but the combination of woods, plastics and metals doesn’t always gel together well when it comes to perceived quality.
What is the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé like to drive?
While Mercedes has made numerous claims regarding the GLC Coupé’s on- and off-road prowess, the traffic gods weren’t smiling on us during our drive along some of Cape Town’s more scenic coastal and town routes. This unfortunately didn’t afford us a substantial taste of either. From the driver’s seat, it’s easy to find a good position that’s low-slung yet still SUV-lofty and while visibility is generally good, it must be said the one drawback of that sleek coupé roofline is a pillar-box view through a very slim rear window. The patchwork of smooth surfaces, speed bumps and the odd pothole on the urban legs of our route did put that stiffer sports suspension on test. Thankfully, it’s a well-damped setup that doesn’t waddle or jar over larger road imperfections.
Barring a brief sniff of backroads that weren’t choked with HGVs or slow-moving tourists, we didn’t get much of an opportunity to really test the GLC Coupé’s dynamic chops. The few breakouts we managed did, however, give a positive impression. The updated steering is reasonably feelsome and our reasonably sensible AMG alloy-equipped test cars didn’t succumb to the tramlining or occasional snatchiness that can afflict larger wheel setups on SUVs with a sportier bent. This allies that firmed-up suspension with a fluid chassis to make the Coupé feel reasonably agile. In terms of powertrain, the lesser-tuned 2.0-litre turbodiesel is a willing performer. While it may not possess the GLC 300d’s outright punch, it still has a healthy well of low-end torque into which you can dip and the mild hybrid system’s added boost and integrated starter motor setup makes progress both effortless and buttery smooth, especially in start-stop traffic.
While we will have to defer our take on the GLC Coupé’s driving manners to more favourable conditions upon its return as a CAR Magazine test vehicle, it must be said that the rest of the package looks promising. There is some credence to Mercedes’ claims of improved handling and road manners, and there’s no getting around the fact that the second-generation model is a real head-turner and is positioned to make a marked impression yet again on the SUV-coupé stage.