“THE SPORTS CAR AMONG THE MID-SIZE SUVS”

Sporty Merc SUV coupe takes on BMW and Porsche with the new GLC Coupe. But is it just a GLC in a new frock?

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - FIRST DRIVE JAMES FOSSDYKE

MERCEDES’ an­swer to the BMW X4 is fi­nally here in the shape of the GLC Coupe. It’s Mercedes’ new­est ad­di­tion to its SUV line-up, and its sec­ond at­tempt at a coupe SUV.

Sit­ting be­low the GLE Coupe in the range, the GLC Coupe is es­sen­tially a GLC with a sleeker, sportier body atop the SUV chas­sis.

But to dis­miss this as a GLC for the fash­ion-con­scious is to un­der­sell this car some­what, be­cause the Coupe is also be­stowed with more di­rect steer­ing and a sportier sus­pen­sion set-up that aims, in Mercedes’ words, to make this “the sports car among the mid-size SUVS”.

Un­der the bon­net you’ll find one of Mercedes’ now-age­ing 2.1-litre diesel en­gines, but th­ese will even­tu­ally be joined by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel, a twin-turbo V6 petrol and a plug-in hy­brid. Sadly, though, the lat­ter won’t be with us un­til 2018.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE

For all Mercedes’ claims of dy­namism, it’s dif­fi­cult to get around the wan­ton stylish­ness of the GLC Coupe. The stan­dard C- Class Coupe is a gor­geous ma­chine, and there’s more than a hint of that sleek aes­thetic about the GLC.

Some­how, though, it doesn’t sit all that well on the raised GLC chas­sis. It’s a mus­cu­lar im­age, but there’s a little too much met­al­work on the sides and the bumpers are a mite too deep to call it truly beau­ti­ful.

Yet as soon as you sit in­side it, you know you’re in some­thing a little bit more spe­cial than your com­mon or garden SUV. The cabin is stock C- Class, but there’s noth­ing wrong with that. Even though the ma­te­ri­als and build qual­ity aren’t up to the stan­dards set by Audi and BMW, there’s a sense of style and oc­ca­sion that little else in this price range can match.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY

The cost of all the GLC Coupe’s stylish­ness, though, is prac­ti­cal­ity. There’s plenty of room in the front, and ac­cess to the rear seats is good thanks to the sen­si­bly sized back doors, but taller rearseat pas­sen­gers will find that head­room is at a pre­mium.

For­tu­nately, the boot is ca­pa­cious enough for items such as suit­cases and golf clubs, but the boot floor seems to be quite a way up and hoist­ing heav­ier ob­jects in and out may be a bit of a faff.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL

The GLC Coupe’s key strength lies on the tar­mac. Sports sus­pen­sion, which is op­tional on the nor­mal GLC, comes as stan­dard on the Coupe, while the track has been widened and the coupe body has low­ered the centre of grav­ity.

As a result, the GLC Coupe’s road manners are very solid, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the kerb weight of 1.8 tonnes. It isn’t what you’d call sporty, and it prob­a­bly couldn’t even keep pace with the Porsche Macan, but it’s a match for the likes of the BMW X4 and Range Rover Evoque.

It isn’t just the han­dling that im­presses, ei­ther. Even with its sport­ing pre­ten­sions, the GLC Coupe offers a smooth, com­fort­able ride, and de­spite the age­ing en­gines, it’s still quite re­fined. That’s helped by the ex­cel­lent nine-speed au­to­matic gear­box, though, which does a great job of keep­ing the revs down and shifts seam­lessly be­tween ra­tios.

VALUE FOR MONEY

Prices start from £40,580, which buys you the 220d Sport model. That’s £3,000 more ex­pen­sive than the equiv­a­lent GLC SUV, but there isn’t a lot of ex­tra kit. In fact, apart from the sus­pen­sion, steer­ing and the body­work, it’s ab­so­lutely iden­ti­cal to the SUV.

Even so, there’s plenty of stan­dard equip­ment. The nine-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion is stan­dard, along with 18-inch alloys, park­ing sen­sors and satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion.

Up­grad­ing to the £42,090 AMG Line, though, will earn you full Ar­tico man-made leather, black head­lin­ing and myr­iad aes­thetic tweaks both in­side and out.

At present, the price struc­ture is rel­a­tively flat thanks to the lim­ited en­gine range, but once the V6 diesel-pow­ered 350d ar­rives at the end of the year the prices will likely reach up to­wards the £50,000 mark.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE?

The GLC Coupe is aimed squarely at stylish young pro­fes­sion­als who want to join the SUV rev­o­lu­tion with­out sac­ri­fic­ing the looks and han­dling of a coupe. It’s a pleas­ant sur­prise to find that it’s rel­a­tively prac­ti­cal, though, so some young fam­i­lies may be tempted.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Model: Mercedes-benz GLC Coupe 250d 4MATIC AMG Line En­gine: 2.1-litre four-cylin­der tur­bocharged diesel pro­duc­ing 201bhp and 369lb/ft Trans­mis­sion: Nine-speed au­to­matic driv­ing all four wheels Per­for­mance: Top speed 138mph, 0-62mph in 7.6 sec­onds Econ­omy: 56.5mpg com­bined Emis­sions: 143g/km

IT ISN’T WHAT YOU’D CALL SPORTY, AND IT PROB­A­BLY COULDN’T EVEN KEEP PACE WITH THE PORSCHE MACAN, BUT IT’S A MATCH FOR THE LIKES OF THE BMW X4 AND RANGE ROVER EVOQUE.

The GLC Coupe is aimed at young pro­fes­sion­als who want to join the SUV rev­o­lu­tion

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