New Mercedes GLC Coupe 300 2023 review
The all-new Mercedes GLC Coupe arrives to take on the BMW X4 and Audi Q5 Sportback
A little practicality is lost but otherwise, the Mercedes GLC Coupe has all of the impressive attributes seen on the new GLC with a premium interior, refinement and a comfy ride. It’s extremely difficult to recommend the Coupe over the SUV model based on these qualities, however, and that’s before you get to the price tag. The GLC Coupe remains a car you buy with the heart rather than your head.
If you think coupe-SUVs are a small niche within a niche then think again because Mercedes expects the new GLC Coupe to account for up to 20 per cent of total GLC sales - the GLC itself being the best-selling Mercedes model worldwide.
Once again rivalling BMW’s X4 and the Audi Q5 Sportback, the new GLC Coupe targets the SUV buyer looking for some added coupe style but with the high seating position and practicality of an SUV. It’s a tall order that few in the sector have managed to fulfil convincingly but that certainly won’t stop Mercedes from trying.
Like the first generation Mercedes GLC Coupe, the new one looks just like the regular SUV body style from the front and has a sloping roofline to the rear, giving it a more dynamic look. The GLC Coupe is actually 47mm longer than the SUV and gets a more aggressive stance thanks to a staggered wheel set up with wider rear tyres - unlike the square arrangement of the SUV.
European markets get Avantgarde as the entry-level trim but the UK’s sportier tastes are accounted for by our selection starting with AMG Line. The test car we tried is the range-topping AMG Line Premium Plus version, commanding a hefty £10,000 extra over the AMG Line with the same engine. In this case, that engine is a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol mild-hybrid that we’re well acquainted with because it's also found in the GLC SUV and C-Class.
For the extra outlay you do get bespoke black 20-inch AMG alloy wheels, projector headlights, four-zone automatic climate control, a head-up display and an excellent 15-speaker Burmester sound system. You also lose Mercedes’ Artico man-made leather in favour of genuine leather upholstery.
As with the regular GLC there’s a 12.3-inch central touchscreen and an 11.9-inch driver’s display, featuring the latest iteration of the MBUX infotainment system. It’s an intuitive set up with crisp resolution and an overall premium look. Our only gripe here is that on a hot day the screen got very warm and seemed to delay the response of the touchscreen.
Of course, the big news is the rear where you’d expect that falling roofline to impact on rear passenger space. In reality a couple of six footers will be perfectly comfortable back there, although there’s obviously less natural light than in the SUV - the Premium Plus’ standard-fit panoramic roof isn’t available elsewhere in the range even as an option.
The boot is also not as small as you’d think. The SUV’s 620 litres only drops to 545 litres for the Coupe - no doubt helped by the extra body length. Boot space drops further to 390 litres should you spec the plug-in hybrid versions due to the battery being under the boot floor. That sloped roofline does impact rear visibility, however, with a rather thin rear view opening. Front visibility isn’t great either, although on Premium and Premium Plus you get Mercedes’ ‘Transparent bonnet’ which is designed to help with off-roading, but is equally useful in tight parking spots.
The GLC Coupe 300’s 6.3-second 0-62mph time is exactly the same as the old car’s, despite a 4bhp power bump to 258bhp. It sounds hot hatch quick on paper but on the road it never really feels exciting when you put your foot down, although it’s only marginally slower than an Audi Q5 Sportback and a Porsche Macan T. Any hesitation from the turbocharged engine is glossed over by the 17kW mild-hybrid system in low speed areas.
The car’s impressive refinement makes the performance seem a touch less exhilarating than it perhaps is, but so too does the nine-speed automatic transmission - which isn’t without its flaws. The shifts are smooth enough but if you’re looking for rapid progression then they can be delayed at times, the manual paddles behind the steering wheel don’t quicken the changes up either.
As with the standard GLC there are four driving modes, Eco, Comfort, Sport and Individual. They’re not specifically calibrated for the Coupe so it’s the same as you’ll find in the SUV with the ‘box holding on to gears for longer in Sport, the throttle mapping changing slightly and the steering becoming a tad heavier.
Even with the extra rubber on the back, the GLC Coupe does a great job of quelling road noise. Wind noise is also kept at bay (which makes sense given that the Coupe is more aerodynamically efficient than its predecessor) with the main sound intrusion occasionally coming from the engine that can sound gruff at times.
Mercedes’ AIRMATIC adaptive suspension was fitted to our car but we have been told this won’t come to the UK. The same scenario played out on our initial drive of the GLC SUV, only for Mercedes to change its mind and bring the system to the UK after all. We hope this is the case with the Coupe because it rides seriously well, although it’s not set up for spirited driving, with rapid inputs from the steering wheel highlighting both the traditional SUV suspension travel and the GLC Coupe’s mass.
Our car also had rear-wheel steering - another feature not coming to UK cars. This is another shame because while you probably would struggle to notice the change in cornering stability, the reduction of 90cm from the turning circle is helpful around town.
The GLC Coupe also has efficiency on its side because while the 300 petrol model can’t match the SUV’s 36.7mpg figure, the combined 34.4mpg is better than an equivalent Audi, Porsche Macan and Alfa Romeo Stelvio.
Circling back to the price tag, the standard GLC Coupe starts from £59,355, which is £6,475 more than the SUV. That’s quite the premium considering the Coupe doesn’t drive any better, is worse on practicality and scores much worse on depreciation estimates.
|Model:||Mercedes GLC Coupe 300 4MATIC Premium Plus|
|Engine:||2.0-litre 4cyl turbocharged petrol mild-hybrid|
|Transmission:||Nine-speed automatic, four-wheel drive|
|On sale:||Summer 2023|