We're already big fans of the Mercedes-Benz GLC, the company's first offering in this part of the world in the hotly contested mid-sized premium SUV sector. Now there's an alternative, the GLC Coupe, with sportier styling and driving dynamics, yet only a small loss in practicality. Here we review one of the expected best-sellers, the GLC 250 d.
In the Metal:
Our four-star rating comes with a caveat here, and it's that the new Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe can look like it has a very big bum in certain specifications. Avoid white paint, for a start, and even silver seems to accentuate the bulky rear end. In contrast, dark metallic hues disguise the size of the car and it can look very attractive, sharing plenty of details with the C-Class Coupe for example, though with a little too much shiny chrome for my liking. The new Coupe is 76mm longer and 38mm lower than the standard Mercedes GLC SUV and both front and rear windows are more raked, giving it a unique appearance.
The new roofline does reduce rear headroom a tad, but it's still perfectly adequate and not a reason to choose the regular version over the Coupe. The rear seat back still splits and folds flat and though the boot is smaller by some 50 litres, there's still 500 litres of storage, including a very large area under the boot floor. The rest of the cabin is pretty much as per the regular car, which is to say it's beautifully designed and put together with endless opportunity for further customisation from the options list.
Mercedes set out to make the GLC Coupe more driver-focused, so sports suspension is standard, with steel springs and fixed rate damping. Sadly, we didn't get the opportunity to try that at the launch, instead testing Air Body Control (air springs and adjustable damping) and Dynamic Body Control (steel springs, but adjustable damping) on different vehicles. The former is more comfort oriented and impressive with it, but from a driver's point of view, the latter was more rewarding, usefully tautening up body control when the road turned interesting. We'll have to wait until we drive a standard car on Irish soil before making a final call on it, but first impressions are that the GLC Coupe sacrifices a fraction of the standard GLC's (class-leading) comfort in return for a little more body control. While the steering wheel is lovely to hold, the steering system itself doesn't really encourage the driver to push on.
In summary, the GLC Coupe isn't what you'd call a fun and engaging car to drive, but it is more than competent and the vast majority of drivers will never find its high grip limits. The standard 4Matic four-wheel drive shuffles power around as needed, but the end result is usually benign neutrality through and exiting a corner, which is safe and surefooted. The 2.1-litre diesel engine, even in 250 d guise, hasn't really got enough grunt to push the chassis to the limits in any case - it's sufficient rather than noteworthy. There's little gain in taking control of the standard nine-speed automatic transmission, either. Just leave it to its own devices. It's perfectly fine for ambling around or cruising on the motorway. It is worth noting that the suppression of noise from the engine is exceptional.
What you get for your Money:
At the time of writing, Mercedes-Benz Ireland has yet to confirm pricing for the GLC Coupe. In other markets, it costs a few grand more than the equivalent GLC SUV, so we'd estimate €60,000 for the GLC 200 d Coupe. The next model up is the GLC 220 d Coupe, using a less powerful version of the 250 d's 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel engine. Above the 250 d is the V6-engined GLC 350 d Coupe and in a couple of years the plugin hybrid version, called the GLC 350 e, will come on stream. We expect the equipment and trim levels to follow those set out by the regular GLC, which means standard, Full Exclusive and AMG line options.
Take a long look at the full Mercedes-Benz line-up and you may be surprised at how many so-called coupes there now are. The GLC Coupe fits right in with the company's dizzying new model rollout and has plenty of rivals to compete with. As with the regular GLC, it's comfortable, spacious and beautifully appointed inside. It loses a little practicality in Coupe format, but not much. It has the potential to be considerably more interesting to drive than the standard car, but not in 250 d format. Buy this one because you love the looks and you'll not be disappointed.