It seems like Mercedes-Benz has been a little too liberal with its use of the C-word.
Engine: 2.0L turbo 4-cylinder; 3.0L twin-turbo V6
Output: 241 hp, 273 lb-ft; 362 hp, 384 lb-ft
Transmission: 9-speed auto
US Fuel Economy (MPG): 22 city, 27 hwy; 18 city, 24 hwy
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 10.9 city, 8.5 hwy; 13 city, 9.8 hwy
US Price: Starts at $45,950; $59,650
CAN Price: Starts at $49,990; $63,200
Usually reserved for exceptional circumstances, the word is being thrown around by the German automaker with reckless abandon. It used to be that a coupe was a two-door hardtop with a long hood and a proper trunk.
Those parameters were stretched when the marketing folks at the Mercedes mothership got hold of the term, using it first to describe the big-bodied CLS, followed by the entry-level CLA — both were fitted with four doors and thus undeserving of such characterization.
If branding a pair of sedans as coupes wasn’t enough, Mercedes decided to give a couple of its popular crossovers the raked roofline treatment. And the latest is the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe, a small crossover set to take on the BMW X4.
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A Coupe by Name Alone
Much like the GLE Coupe that came before it, this quirky new version of the GLC is about as much a coupe as Jell-O wrestling is a good way to get to know your neighbors. That’s not to say it’s unattractive — the GLC Coupe, not the Jell-O wrestling — but the naming convention is little more than a marketing gimmick.
Regardless, it has a unique look that’s well executed. The fastback profile builds on the refined styling that was introduced on the GLC — previously the GLK — in its second generation, working well with the new Benz design language that’s currently rolling out across the lineup. The raked roofline also seems to better suit the smaller proportions of the GLC when compared to the larger GLE, which looks quite awkward.
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But Mercedes didn’t simply chop a bit off the back of a regular GLC and call it a day; it actually reengineered quite a bit of the crossover’s shape to create a more fluid design. The entire roofline was lowered by approximately 1.5 inches (38 millimeters) while the overall length was stretched roughly 3 inches (76 mm) to give the GLC Coupe a sleeker profile.
More Than a Misnomer
The sloped roofline may look cool, but some sacrifices had to be made in the name of the GLC Coupe’s enhanced aesthetics. Outward visibility from the B-pillars back is significantly reduced compared to the coupe’s conventionally shaped counterpart, creating fairly large blind spots around back. And while the GLC Coupe is fitted with standard with blind spot monitoring and a rearview camera, there’s no replacement for what’s visible with your own two eyes.
While second-row passenger space in the GLC would never be classified as spectacular, the amount of room on offer does take a hit in the conversion to coupe. While shoulder- and legroom in the rear row is no less substantial than what’s offered in the conventional version of the GLC, the tapered roof reduces headroom noticeably. As a result, it feels somewhat claustrophobic in the back seat, and not just for taller passengers.
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Cuts also had to be made to cargo capacity, though it’s not so much the amount of room that was removed as it is where it was removed from. Mercedes claims the GLC Coupe’s cargo area is only slightly smaller than the conventional version, measuring 17.7 cu-ft (500 liters) compared to 19.4 cu-ft (550 liters) with the rear seats upright. That amount of missing space is unlikely to be noticed during day-to-day tasks like groceries, but with all the space taken out of the top, transporting taller items or stacking anything is out of the question.
Pick Your Powertrain
Like virtually every other model in the Mercedes lineup, the GLC Coupe is available a couple of ways including a hotted-up AMG version. Just like the non-coupe version, the base GLC300 version is motivated by turbocharged four-cylinder that will no doubt lead to some concerns about the roughly 4,100-lb (1,860-kg) crossover being underpowered. Those fears should, however, easily be alleviated by just how torquey the 2.0-liter engine is.
With 241 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of torque on tap, the output doesn’t necessarily jump off the page but it is more than enough to move the base GLC Coupe around without much effort. The full serving of torque comes online at just 1,300 rpm, leaving only a small margin off the top for turbo lag.
If that’s not enough, the AMG GLC43 sees the four-cylinder engine replaced with a twin-turbocharged V6 for improved performance. Output from the 3.0-liter is rated at 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque, which is more than enough to give the GLC Coupe the mean streak AMG-badged vehicles have become known for. The only disappointment is that unlike every other engine used in Mercedes’ performance lineup, this V6, which is being stuffed under every hood it will fit, isn’t hand-built at AMG’s facility in Affalterbach, Germany. While that fact hasn’t seemed to hamper any of the vehicles we’ve tested, it does take some of the allure out of the AMG experience.
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The same nine-speed automatic transmission is used in both versions, though the AMG’s has been tinkered with to improve responsiveness and quicker shift times. Developed in-house by Benz, the transmission seamlessly runs through the gears in any of the four driving modes offered through the console-mounted drive program selector. Also altered using the drive mode selector are the GLC Coupe’s throttle response and steering, as well as the air suspension setup that’s available on the base version and standard on the AMG.
While the standard steel suspension is just fine, the air suspension is simply phenomenal. During our time behind the wheel of a beautiful blue Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe, the air suspension offered a supple ride on rough roads while a tremendously firm and responsive one through corners. Likewise, the steering was nicely weighted and provided tack-sharp responsiveness in both Sport and Sport+ modes despite feeling incredibly numb.
Both versions of the GLC Coupe feature full-time all-wheel drive systems, though the way they distribute torque is markedly different depending on the model. The base GLC300 gets a pretty standard 45/55 torque split front to rear, while the GLC43 utilizes its own rear-biased tuning. Torque split in that version is 31/69 front to rear, giving it a sports car-like feel — particularly from a standing start and with traction control disengaged.
When it comes to the cabin, everything between the dashboard and second-row seats has been virtually transplanted from the existing GLC. That means many similarities with the C-Class sedan, including impressive fit and finish and decent materials throughout. The upholstery on the seats is actually man-made leather, but most would be hard-pressed to spot the differences compared to natural stuff.
The GLC Coupe is available with the same active safety features as most of the rest of Mercedes’ lineup, though it’s not quite as robust as what’s offered in the E-Class. The adaptive cruise control system is as impressive as ever, and only lacks the lane change assist feature offered in the E-Class. Other safety features, like park assist, are also offered in the GLC Coupe, though they are only done so as part of pricey packages, adding thousands of dollars to the order sheet.
The Verdict: 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe Review
Whether the base four-cylinder version or the V6-powered AMG43, the new GLC Coupe is a capable crossover that can be fun when called upon. In fact, the best part about the GLC Coupe is the way it drives — which is exactly how the regular GLC drives. And it’s for that reason alone that it’s a bit of a bust. Its aesthetic appeal is certainly unique, but it sacrifices a ton of practicality as a result.
Making matters worse is the price premium it commands. While it’s still relatively affordable for those looking to break into the premium segment, a base version of the sleek crossover is close to $5,000 more than the conventional GLC. Mercedes-Benz expects the take rate on the GLC Coupe to be about 20 percent, which means 20 percent of buyers could end up regretting their decision.