By on 2016-07-06 -
Coupe - First Drive
PREMIUM SUVs are so last year; the latest hot ticket is the premium SUV coupe.
And Mercedes-Benz is keen to help drivers exploit any untapped lifestyle ambitions with a sleeker, sportier-looking version of its already popular GLC premium SUV.
The fastback profile of its newly christened GLC Coupe is key to its appeal.
A more decadent choice than its conventional SUV cousin, its performance attributes are clothed in an expertly tailored suit.
Mercedes isn't pushing the GLC Coupe's off-roading potential, though. Despite all models boating the firm's 4MATIC all-wheel system, the focus is strictly on-road. With three grades of suspension - regular, air and dynamic - plus an AMG-themed trim level, the GLC Coupe has been designed to challenge traditional SUV stereotypes.
With the exception of the flagship AMG performance model and efficient plug-in hybrid model, UK buyers can choose from a trio of diesel variants.
Arriving first in the showrooms, the GLC 220 d and GLC 250 d four-cylinder cars boast identical economy and emissions performance of 56.5mpg and 131g/km CO2, which means the choice is between 171 and 204 horsepower respectively.
Appearing towards the end of 2016, the more powerful GLC 350 d raises the bar with its 258 horsepower six-cylinder motor.
Striking a good balance between performance and affordability, the GLC 250 d delivers ample refinement and agility for its £41,735 starting price. Its performance stats are 0 to 60 in 7.6 seconds with a theoretical top end of 138mph.
Hushed and stable on the motorway, racking up the miles is easy in this middle order GLC Coupe. And with its lofty driving position, urban motoring is pleasingly stress-free. Key to the GLC Coupe's appeal is the range-wide inclusion of a smooth-shifting nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Mercedes' 9G-TRONIC transmission allows for fuss-free motoring, yet keen drivers can always take full control when they feel the urge to exploit the car's sporty character.
Nothing phased Mercedes' fastback SUV on the varied Italian route chosen for the GLC Coupe launch drive.
From wide open highways to challenging, twisty rural roads with performance-sapping inclines, the car always felt composed and in control. Predictably the 350 d had more power in reserve, but the 250 d hit back with a keener throttle response and was more eager to change direction.
Any hint of compromise was also absent away from the driving experience. Despite the car's streamlined profile, rear head and legroom is more than adequate for adults, while the hatchback tailgate opens to reveal a flat, flexible loadspace with only a modest boot lip to negotiate.
That the GLC Coupe variant is a fraction lower (42mm) than its conventional cousin helps not only the driving experience but also cabin and boot accessibility.
Completing this polished package is a generous level of standard kit.
Whether you opt for the Sport or AMG Line variant, you'll get Mercedes' classy Artico upholstery, Garmin Map Pilot navigation system, keyless start, LED headlights, 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, powered tailgate, sports suspension and Active Park Assist. AMG Line cars add a sporty flat-bottomed steering wheel, black cabin roof lining, an AMG bodykit and 19-inch wheels.
And as befits this premium-grade model the options list is a long and comprehensive one, including an upgraded audio system and Mercedes' familiar COMAND infotainment and navigation system, plus a range of packages focusing on boosting the car's convenience, safety and design features.
Successfully blending SUV and hatchback attributes with an eye-catching design, Mercedes has produced a practical, classy and competent car for anyone seeking something a little different without wishing to compromise the ownership experience.
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