Monday 23 April 2018

The difference €10,000 can make. That's the price step to this Merc GLC Coupe. Is it worth it?

First drive in Aosta Valley, Italy: Merc GLC Coupe

Sloping look: The Merc GLC Coupe.
Sloping look: The Merc GLC Coupe.
Merc GLC Coupe.
Great display/instrument layout.
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

The hard part is working out why you would pay €10,000 more for this new GLC Coupe. It is entirely based on the excellent and in-demand GLC crossover/SUV, but looks markedly different and gets some extra elements.

Ah! The sloping looks. You love or you don't. I'm not a fan, but I'm in a minority. You also get sports suspension as standard, nearly 8cms more body and almost-universal 4WD.

Maybe when you stack those up the price gap narrows, but it is still a big step - until you check the opposition. The GLC Coupe's most identifiable rival is the BMW X4 (talk about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery) and it costs from €58,500 or so. The Porsche Macan is another, but it is more expensive. So if people are paying that sort of money for the Beemer, why not for a Merc?

Based on the C-Class platform, it gets here early September and will start from around €60,000. That will make for a fair old range of Merc coupés now: C-Class, E-Class, S-Class, CLA, CLS and GLE.

The new Coupe is 76mm longer than the 'conventional' GLC (for which demand far outstrips supply). The extra length is split between front and back, but there's no wheelbase or change to underpinnings. It is also 37mm lower and the tyres give it a 40mm wider stance.

I love the front, especially with the AMG-style grille and the famous emblem in the middle. The interior is modern Merc at its best: great display/instrument layout, big central console, lovely seats and plenty of room.

Headroom at the back isn't as good because of the sharper sloping roof, but that's me, at 6ft 1ins or so. They claim entrance height, shoulder, elbow and legroom are the same as the GLC itself. There's a double-level boot (491 litres-to 1,400 litres if you fold the rear seats).

The two main engines for the Ireland launch will be the 136hp 200d and 170hp 220d, but they weren't at our test drive, so we drove the 250d (200hp) and 350d (258hp) as well as the 350-plug-in petrol hybrid (320hp, 59/64g/km).

The steel Sport suspension (with more direct steering) is certain to be the biggie for us and is standard. The conventional suspension version with Dynamic Body Control (adaptive damping) was the more energetic and far better than the Air version. It was sharper on some sharp twisty mountain roads in the Aosta valley in the shadow of the Alps and, memorably, in plain sight of the famous Matterhorn.

The AWD 4-MATIC will be standard on everything except 200d (you can't get it on that at all). We drove 20ins wheels but 18ins are standard. There will be an AMG43 version in December and possibly a more powerful one after that. The chassis is good for it. And it won't be tasked too heavily with the 200d and 220d here.

If we needed another clue about the pricing it would be their claim that this is a 'sports car among Mercedes SUVs'. There was plenty of life in it alright, a sort of comfortable ease under a fair bit of lateral pressure on the twists. It wasn't as sharp/direct as the X4, but there was a satisfying sense of confidence in its response to anything I asked it to do.

Be aware that the diesels do not include the excellent new 2-litre family. They're the old 2.1-litre in the 220d (136hp), 220d (170hp) and 250d (200hp) guise. But they have tweaked them and dampened sound really well (there is more room under the bonnet to pack in noise absorption). The E-Class is the only one with the new 2-litre, because it was designed for it first. Others will have to wait for revisions, as it involves an overhaul of the electrics.

The 9spd auto transmission is a favourite. At one stage I was driving at 130kmh and the engine was ticking over at 1,700 rpm. It's standard - another pricing clue? - except for the hybrid (7spd).

If it were down to me I'd stick with the main GLC, but this draws your attention whether you like it or not. It is for the well-off driver who doesn't want or need a prestige SUV for more everyday things. They want it because it is a Merc SUV coupe that stands them out from the crowd! And they are willing to pay for the privilege.

Mercedes here expect quite a few to do exactly that next year.

Indo Motoring

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