Monday 24 July 2017

A tasty coupe de jour

The Mercedes-Benz GLC matches its sporty rivals such as the BMW X4 in some areas, writes Geraldine Herbert

When BMW launched the X6, the firm proved that it could create a demand for something we never knew we wanted.

Motoring critics may have been baffled by the very idea of an SUV coupe but BMW showrooms worldwide have resonated with the footsteps of eager customers.

Today the crossover coupe is a must-have in any premium range. The latest in the Mercedes-Benz line-up is a sloping roof coupe version of the GLC SUV.

Based on the very impressive C-Class, the GLC Coupe joins its bigger sibling, the GLE Coupe. The GLA is the entry-level SUV, and the GLC is the next step up.

With a diamond radiator grille, short rear overhang, and swooping roofline, it certainly has road presence and is designed to take on rivals such as the BMW X4 and the Jaguar F-Pace.

Inside, the GLC is an oasis of opulence and comfort. The finish and quality of the fittings are impressively tactile and beautifully crafted - particularly the dashboard and centre console.

The five-seat coupe is also almost eight centimetres longer and four centimetres lower than the regular GLC, with good leg room in the back for two adults. However, the sloping roofline means headroom is a little tight and the boot space is smaller than the GLC SUV's 550 litres, but it does offer a decent 491 litres that can extend to 1,400 if you fold the rear seats. The boot is quite narrow, though, and the load lip is high, so its usefulness is slightly compromised.

Powering my 220d test car was the 2.1-litre diesel version - and the refinement is particularly impressive.

Sitting at the very top of the GLC Coupe range are the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 and GLC 63. The 43 refers to a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 engine that has been used in numerous AMG Performance models. It delivers 270kW (367hp) plus maximum torque of 520nm. The 63 comes with the 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8. Both versions come with price tags in excess of €100,000.

There is plenty of oomph from my 220d's engine and it goes from 0-100km/h in 8.3 seconds, with a top speed of 210km. It has 170bhp and 400nm of torque and the nine-speed automatic gearbox is impressively smooth.

Reassuringly, it comes with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive. You can also opt for one of six settings (Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual). While the Sport mode improves the steering and sharpens the car, it doesn't make it much more involving or engaging to drive. There is also the option of an Offroad setting and Offroad Plus for all-wheel variants.

Fuel economy is an average of 5.4 litres per 100km, or 52mpg in the combined urban. The GLC has CO2 emissions of 143g/km, making annual motor tax €390.

Mercedes-Benz makes safety a key component in all its vehicles - and the new GLC Coupe is no exception. There is also a host of crash-avoidance features, which are now common across the Mercedes-Benz range, and there is a huge selection of optional features. The GLC is also equipped with an active bonnet that is raised by 80mm during an impact to provide additional deformation space and protect pedestrians.

There are two trim levels to choose from, with the entry-level model coming equipped with active park assist, air conditioning, an AMG interior pack, collision prevention assistant, satnav, heated front seats, intelligent light system, keyless start and touchpad control for the infotainment system.

The interior ash trim and metallic paint are among some of the extras that add €6,182 to the base price of my test car.

As mentioned, the closest rivals to the Coupe are the Jaguar F-Pace and the BMW X4. Prices for the GLC Coupe start at €65,435 and my test car with options came in at €72,304. By comparison, the X4 starts at €58,380 and the Jaguar F-Pace at €44,100.

However, Mercedes-Benz Ireland recently announced a 10pc reduction in the price of its passenger cars for a limited period, so the test car with options is currently priced at €65,074.

Overall, the GLC is quite a nice package but it is not without its downsides.

The biggest issue is the dull and lifeless steering. While it is a good car to drive, it is no match dynamically for the BMW X4, which has a significant edge in terms of handling and performance.

The GLC is also expensive, particularly when compared to the GLC SUV.

With less practicality and a higher price tag than the SUV version, the coupe is a compromise and there are many arguments against buying one. But reason doesn't always prevail and the lure of this sleek coupe is, despite these failings, a strong one.

The GLC Coupe successfully blends style and refinement with some of the benefits of an SUV.

It is a niche model within a niche segment of the market, so this vehicle won't be to everyone's taste or suit everyone's budget, but that's exactly what Mercedes-Benz intended.

Still, if you are in the market for a coupe SUV, the BMW X4 or the Jaguar F-Pace is also worth putting on your list.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d Coupe 4MATIC AMG Sport

Engine: 2,143cc, 170bhp, 400nm

Performance:0-100 km/h in 8.3 seconds

Top speed: 210km/h

Fuel economy: 5.4 - 4.0 litres/100 km

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