Mercedes GLC Coupe review
The mid-size Mercedes GLC has been given a coupe-like body and a price hike to increase its desirability
The Mercedes GLC Coupe is the sporty variant of the Merc's mid-sized SUV. While the standard GLC-Class is designed to be a practical five-seat family SUV, the GLC Coupe has a lowered roof line to go with its coupe tag. As well as being lower than the standard GLC, the Coupe is marginally longer and wider, too.
While the standard GLC rivals models such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Jaguar F-Pace, the GLC Coupe is more of a niche product. Its main rival is the BMW X4, which is a coupe variant of the X3, while sportier versions of the GLC can be considered rivals for the Porsche Macan and top-end Jaguar F-Pace V6S.
Like all of Mercedes's models, each different engine is signified by a different badge on the bootlid. The Coupe has the same engine range as the standard GLC, so there's 220 d, 250 d and 350 d diesels, plus the powerful AMG 43 petrol. The 220 d and 250 d both use the same 2.1-litre four-cylinder, with 170bhp and 204bhp respectively, while the 350 d has a 258bhp 3.0-litre V6. The AMG 43 uses a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 with 367bhp. Sitting above it are two 4.0-litre biturbo eight-cylinder AMG options in the form of the 469bhp GLC AMG 63 and the 503bhp GLC 63 S models, the latter available as an Edition 1 limited edition car. All GLC Coupes feature Merc's latest nine-speed G-Tronic gearbox and 4MATIC four-wheel drive.
In Europe, the GLC Coupe is also offered as the GLC 350 e plug-in hybrid, although Mercedes doesn't have plans to bring that model to the UK in the near future.
The only difference in trim between the standard GLC and the Coupe is that you can't get the latter in SE spec. Sport trim kicks the range off in the UK for a little over £41k. That’s £3,000 more than the cheapest GLC-Class in Sport trim, and also means that from April all models in the GLC Coupe range costs £450 a year to tax for the first five years. So if you want to save costs, then you might want to look at the standard GLC in the same spec as an alternative. Base cars come with 18-inch alloy wheels, sat-nav, heated seats, an electric tailgate, a reversing camera and ambient lighting.
Top-spec AMG Line spec adds 19-inch alloys, sportier exterior detailing, sports suspension (although this gives the car a fidgety ride) and AMG cabin design add-ons. All models can be ordered with the Premium or Premium Plus packages, both of which add a variety of luxurious equipment including 360-degree cameras, high-end stereos and panoramic glass.
Proper AMG models come with plenty of kit, including racier bodykits and interiors, more tech in the way of standard 360-degree camera systems on 63 models, and 20-inch alloy wheels on the 63 S. The Edition 1 car is fully loaded, and gets distinctive styling tweaks in the form of yellow bodywork highlights and interior trim elements, plus 21-inch wheels.
The Mercedes GLC is Merc's mid-sized SUV, and the GLC Coupe is the sporty variant. It was only a matter of time before Merc took note of its German challenger by building a BMW X4 rival, and the swoopy Mercedes GLC Coupe is that car. It's a great smaller sibling to the GLE Coupe with a less imposing look that actually makes it more desirable.
It’s sharper to drive than the standard GLC, but remains more of a comfortable and refined cruiser than a sports car. It’s not a true driver’s car in the vein of the Porsche Macan, and compared to the X4 it's more comfortable and less involving to drive. The engine range is limited, but at least the ones on offer have a strong blend of performance and efficiency, while the full fat AMG models have now arrived.
You have to make sacrifices in terms of practicality, as the Coupe's boot is smaller than the standard GLC's andit's not as roomy in the back, either. It’s pricier, too, but for some buyers the extra cash will be worth it for the looks alone. Happily, the classy and solidly built cabin design of the GLC is carried over to the Coupe.
Engines, performance and drive
When Mercedes launched the standard GLC we found it offered a comfortable and refined drive, but lagged behind the BMW X3 and Porsche Macan for handling and agility. It seems Merc has tried to address that with the GLC Coupe, which gets a thorough re-engineering in search of a sporty feel.
Every Mercedes GLC Coupe comes as standard with retuned sports suspension, including Mercedes’ Dynamic Select system with adaptive dampers and selectable driving modes. As is usual with Mercedes, there is also the £1,495 option of air suspension with continuously variable damping and adjustable ride height. Mercedes has also given the GLC Coupe a wider track than the GLC, plus a retuned steering rack for more directness.
On 19-inch wheels the GLC Coupe’s ride is slightly lumpy, while the body doesn’t feel particularly well tied down over bad surfaces. On rougher roads the chassis fidgets, and it struggles to settle into a smooth lope on the motorway. Yet start to push harder through a series of corners and the Mercedes wallows around. The mushy, lifeless steering lacks the BMW X4’s precision, and the GLC Coupe isn’t as willing to change direction. Nor is it as agile or fun – although neither car is particularly inspiring from behind the wheel.
Naturally, the AMG models are sharper. The top end GLC 63 S version boasts quick, direct and well weighted steering, but it's still not as precise as the Porsche Macan, and it isn't aided by the GLC Coupe's rather hefty curb weight. The 4.0-litre biturbo V8 engine is special though, and dominates the driving experience with its noise and sheer power.
GLC Coupe models fitted with air-suspension offer a good blend of comfort and handling, but on standard springs with larger wheel choices it can be unsettled at low speed. In any mode and with any setup, the Mercedes lacks the agility and playfulness of a Macan. It is extremely refined though, with wind and road noise mostly blocked out even on the largest wheel options. Compared to a standard GLC the ride height is slightly lower, so while it won't be as capable off road, a lower, sportier seating position is granted.
The GLC Coupe’s engine range initially kicks off with the familiar 2.1-litre four cylinder diesel engine in two states of tune: the 168bhp 220d or the 201bhp 250d. Mercedes won’t be using the brand new 2.0-litre diesel you can buy in the latest E-Class in this car for a while, which is a shame. Still, in both GLC’s it’s more refined and smooth than it used to be, with only the tell-tale diesel clatter evident at high revs or around town.
The base 220d manages 0-62mph in a decent 8.3 seconds, while the 250d manages the same sprint in 7.6 seconds. The former is more than adequate for most needs, but the extra 100Nm of torque of the 250d may appeal given the GLC’s sportier aim. However, in the 220 d performance is sufficient, if not stellar. While Mercedes’ in-gear times are good, the nine-speed auto box is eager to kick down, due to heavy kerbweight. This hits refinement by sending the noisy engine’s revs higher.
Also available is a smooth six-cylinder diesel in the GLC 350d Coupe. With 253bhp and a thumping 620Nm of torque it feels brisk, although not light and day faster than the 250d and the extra weight at the nose is noticeable in corners. It’s more expensive and less efficient, too, so it’s only for those who really need to pulling power.
The 367bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 in the AMG 43 model has a sub-five second 0-62mph time and is geared for performance over efficiency. The GLC 63 with its 469bhp and 650Nm of torque manages 0-62mph in four seconds flat, and is limited to 155mph. Opt for the more potent S version, though, and power climbs to 503bhp and 700Nm of torque, enabling 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds. It's possible to have the electronic muzzle set higher too, unlocking a top speed of 174mph. This is standard on the Edition 1.
MPG, CO2 and Running Costs
The GLC 220d Coupe claims 56.5mpg combined – whichever trim level you have it in – which is exactly the same as the regular GLC. Interestingly, the more powerful 250d unit achieves exactly the same combined MPG figure, so could be the one to pick. Both are said to emit 131g/km in base spec, although the AMG Line add ons bring that up to 143g/km. By comparison, a BMW X4 20d SE manages just 52.3mpg and emits 142g/km.
The 350d emits 161g/km and will do 47.1mpg. That’s quite an impressive figure given the performance on offer, though, as ever, you’ll struggle to get near it in the real world. You can also expect a significant price premium over the 250d. It’s a shame that there’s no plug-in hybrid option available, to offer something with extreme tax benefits that company car buyers will want. That’s still a couple of years off.
At the top of the range, the AMG 43 has a 367bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, and has claimed economy of 33.6mpg and emissions of 192g/km. Considering the performance on offer, this isn't bad, but means it won't be as attractive as the diesels to company car buyers.
Fuel economy won't be at the front of many prospective GLC 63 buyers minds, with 27.4mpg claimed alongside 234g/km CO2. The GLC 63 S dips further to return an official 26.4mpg with 244g/km.
For private buyers keen on the GLC Coupe, they might want to do the sums before taking the plunge. The Coupe range carries a premium of around £3,000 over the standard model. But that means the range starts at more than £40,000, so from April all models face a £450 road tax bill for the first five years - if you're looking at the lower spec versions, you could save £330 a year by going for the standard GLC instead.
Insurance groups are largely on par with the BMW X4 and Porsche Macan. Ratings start at group 29 for the GLC 220 d, while the 250 d is in group 34 and the 350 d is in group 40. The rapid petrol AMG 43 is in group 44.
Unlike Mercedes’ bigger SUVs, which depreciate heavily, every version of the GLC Coupe is predicted to retain over 50 per cent of its value after three years. That figure will worsen if you go heavy on the options, of course, but that’s as good as a BMW X4.
Interior, design and technology
Style-conscious buyers wanting a diesel SUV with the lines of a coupé have now got it better than ever. And if you don’t want to break the bank with the larger, more expensive GLE Coupe or BMW X6, the GLC Coupe is a more affordable alternative.
The curvaceous end result isn’t as brash and imposing as the GLE Coupe, that’s for sure. That’s probably due to the GLC Coupe’s dimensions: it’s significantly lower and narrower than the GLE, but it’s longer, wider and lower than the GLC.
It looks a bit more squat and purposeful than the standard car as a result, and although from some angles the rear-end is a little awkward, it’s preferable to the ungainliness of the BMW X4. Our biggest problem is that the regular GLC isn’t an unattractive car, so the GLC Coupe is solving a problem that doesn’t really exist. Still, AMG-line variants look smart with the extra visual trinkets and larger alloys.
Inside, the GLC Coupe borrows its cabin design almost wholesale from the GLC. That means it’s one of the nicest places to sit in its class, with luxurious materials, a good mix of colours and a high quality feel. Top models get a vast array of gadgets to play with, too. The driving position is a bit lower than the GLC’s, which may not be to all tastes but it helps the car feel like a sportier SUV. The Porsche Macan has a more solid feel to its cabin trim, however, and the switchgear is more logically laid-out.
Buyers can add Premium and Premium Plus packages to the GLC Coupe to make things even more upmarket, bringing kit such as memory seats, a Burmerster hi-fi, panoramic glass roof, keyless entry and ambient lighting.
Sat-nav, stereo and infotainment
The GLC Coupe uses the same ‘Comand’ infotainment and navigation system as the GLC. That means base cars come with a seven-inch tablet-style dash mounted screen, while an upgraded 8.4-inch unit with online connectivity can also be specced.
The system is clear and the mapping is intuitive, but the mass of sub-menus combined with the fiddly mix of a scrolling dial and a touchpad means it isn’t as easy to use as rival systems from Porsche and BMW. Still the 590W Burmester stereo offers crystal clear and powerful sound, although the standard set-up is fine for most.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that if you make an SUV look like a coupe there will be some practicality compromises. Indeed, the lower roofline of the GLC Coupe means it’s not as accommodating for rear seat passengers. It is on a par with the BMW X4 in terms of space, however, both for passengers and in the boot.
Cabin storage is reasonable: the door bins and glovebox are a decent size, the centre console armrest flips up to reveal a deep bin, and rear seat occupants get cup holders in the armrest. The driving position is adjustable for all shapes and sizes – plus most models get electric steering wheel adjustment – and front visibility isn’t too bad. Rear visibility is lacking, however, thanks to the sloping roof and thick pillars. Best to rely on the standard-fit rear view camera to help you out of tight spots.
The GLC Coupe is 4.73m long, 1.89m wide and 1.6m tall. That makes it longer and wider than the GLC on which it’s based, and therefore slightly less easy to park despite Merc’s clever 360-degree birds eye view camera system on the screen. It’s also slightly longer and wider than a BMW X4.
Legroom, headroom and passenger space
The Mercedes GLC Coupe offers plentiful room for front seat occupants –despite a large centre console - but the rear seats are adequate rather than exceptional in terms of space. Legroom is pretty good thanks to the 2.87m wheelbase, but six-footers will find their heads brushing the roof and there’s really only space for two in comfort thanks to the large transmission tunnel.
The GLC Coupe’s boot is 50 litres down on the GLC’s with the seats up, and 200-litres down with them folded. That’s something to consider when comparing the two bodystyles, although the Coupe is still no worse than a BMW X4. The loadspace is long and wide enough, but it’s not very deep (even with underfloor storage) and you have to lift items high to load them in. A Porsche Macan has a more practical loadspace.
Reliability and Safety
The GLC Coupe was too niche to feature in our most recent Driver Power results, while the regular GLC didn't appear either. Mercedes finished a disappointing 20th out of 26 for manufacturers in the 2018 edition of the survey.
All of the engines used in the GLC Coupe are tried and tested, particularly the 2.1-litre diesel that has been used in several Mercedes models over a number of years without big problems emerging.
The GLC Coupe gets an impressive amount of safety kit as standard, including seven airbags, collision prevention with autonomous braking, ESP with crosswind assist, and a drowsiness detection system. Adaptive cruise control with semi-autonomous steering, throttle and braking, lane keep assist and traffic sign reading are also optional.
The standard GLC scored five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test with particularly impressive scores for adult occupancy protection, and we expect the GLC Coupe to be much the same. It surpasses the BMW X4 for safety as the new tests are more stringent, and it has more tech included.
Every GLC Coupe comes with a three-year/unlimited mileage warranty, which is no better or worse than most rivals offer. As usual, you can pay to extend the warranty period.
Mercedes offers a plethora of servicing plans you can buy (or bargain into the sale) to ensure your GLC Coupe is maintained at a main dealer for just one year or up to four years. Service intervals will likely be pretty standard for the class.