As Oktoberfest has us celebrating all things German, Team Y tests out the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe that combines comfort and class with abundant autobahn allure.
It’s the car you and I never asked for yet want to drive around in. The Germans have always had a knack for its paradoxical convictions; like, for instance, bringing cars into a market with no real potential or fan base but then succeeding enough over the years to etch something of a classic out of it. Think about it – our tester, the GLC250, is a coupe-style car that’s based on an SUV that originally intended to be a compact crossover.
If that isn’t complicated, then we don’t know what is. Nevertheless, the GLC currently sits neatly in Mercedes’ SUV lineup – just a touch above the smaller (and less attractive) GLA and below the larger GLE and GLS SUVs.
The vehicle can be had as a full-blown, family-hauling SUV or a maniacal track-ready beast – it’s simply up to you to decide what you want to shell out on. It’s almost like the brand has come to terms with buyers wanting ridiculous requests on their cars.
But the GLC Coupe is anything but ridiculous.
Our tester came in the GLC250 Coupe skin – the simplest moniker the Coupe can don in the Mercedes lineup. Though, we couldn’t, for the love of all things holy, figure out how it could classify itself as an entry-level variant.
Just look at it: sharp curves, a low-slung profile, flared fenders, and a wide stance; the GLC250 Coupe certainly separates it from its competitors.
While most German “premium” compact SUVs follow a brash approach to design, this one keeps things simple, though with a perfect dash of sportiness and practicality. So, even in this trim, you’ll receive elegant 20-inch (50cm) 14-spoke AMG alloys, Mercedes’ three-dimensional grille, and a chrome-tipped lip on the bumper.
This, coupled with the customary Mercedes head lamps and daytime running lights make for a very handsome prospective in this niche segment. What is also remarkable is that it’s 6cm longer and 3cm lower than the BMW X4 that it competes with.
Our tester came fitted with some extra goodies as a part of the EXCLUSIVE interior, which we found to be supremely comfortable. There’s ample space for passengers and the driver too, even if the roofline cuts into the head room. Those above 182cm tall, however, will have their work cut out.
The seats are comfortable, and offer superior lumbar support and side bolstering, which makes sense when you’re powering through sharp bends or making quick manoeuvres on the highway. Leather covers much of the seat surfaces and padded surfaces make up much of the other panels. So, the general brigade should admire the overall build quality. Aside from that, there are wood-trim and faux-aluminium options to garnish the interior but each to his or her own, and Mercedes will spec the car based on your needs.
The flat-bottom steering wheel – which comes with cruise and music control buttons – is thick-rimmed but also offers excellent ‘10 and 3’ positions for your hands when driving. Meanwhile, what carries over from the previous generation variants is the gear stalk where you’d normally find your wiper controls.
Undoubtedly, the interior is quite engaging – and it all revolves around the 8-inch (20cm) display, which controls all your infotainment needs. It’s graphically sound but would definitely benefit from the touch interface that the new A-Class packs.
The GLC Coupe’s boot can stash about 500 litres of raw baggage, and more so with the rear seats folded flat. Mind you, there is a spare wheel that takes up much of the space dead in the centre.
That said, where the GLC250 strikes back is in efficiency. And at the forefront of it all lies a 2.0-litre in-line four-cylinder turbocharged motor and a nine-speed automatic transmission. The result is 211hp and 350Nms of torque –divided between the wheels via Mercedes’ 4Matic AWD system.
It’s not the sprightliest machine on the road but given the right conditions it’ll march up to 100kph from a standstill in a respectable eight seconds. While the efficiency-minded engine rakes in points for its frugal approach, there’s a slight lag before the turbos gain steam and build up power.
Still, with a massive chunk of torque delivered between the 1,500 and 3,800rpm, there’s urgency in the way the vehicle speeds off. Gearshifts are smooth – and without the obvious dual-clutch jerkiness.
The vehicle strikes a clean balance between comfort and sportiness, with the GLC250 offering excellent levels of passenger comfort even on rough roads. Bumps are soaked in efficiently, while the Michelin rubber (255/45 front and 285/45 rear) do a great job in providing adequate levels of grip. Harsh corners can be dealt with easily, and body roll is mitigated by the roll bar with efficacy. But flirting with the corners can reveal a handful of understeer.
That said, the electric steering system is light at city speeds and picks up more weight as you go along. However, it’s still one of the lightest systems we’ve ever tried out on an SUV – and it makes way for a very calming drive. As expected, there’s no feedback from the steering rack but it’s concealed by the responsive system that adapts to its ratios with ease.
Noise, vibration, and harshness levels in the cabin are kept to a minimum with superior sound-deadening materials. Refinement, as expected, is where Mercedes-Benz exceeds expectations – and it doesn’t disappoint.
All in all, the GLC-Class Coupe is a fun alternative to the SUV it’s based on. But, the statement is clear: the GLC Coupe isn’t for everybody. It takes guts to walk into a showroom and opt for the Coupe as opposed to the larger SUV. But, it doesn’t fail its buyer. Instead, it captures the true crux of Mercedes SUVs: reliability, practicality, (a fair dose of) sportiness, and above all, sophistication.
• Engine: 2.0-litre ‘turbocharged’ in-line four-cylinder
• Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
• Power: 211hp
• Torque: 350Nms
• Auto engine stop-start
• 20-inch alloy wheels
• 8-inch infotainment screen
• Staggered Dunlop tyres
• 14-way power adjustable driver’s seat
• Leather upholstery
• Traction and stability controls
• Parking sensors
• 360-degree around-view monitor
• Cruise control
• Steering-mounted controls