2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300d Coupe road test review
The coupe-SUV is an often derided class of car, especially by the blue-blooded auto enthusiasts among us. The argument is a valid one, why would you choose something heavier and taller than it needs to be and then make a sports car out of it?
It's simple. We like our SUVs very much and would like them to do as much for us in as many forms as possible. So unsurprisingly, Mercedes-Benz India's ever-growing SUV line-up now includes this, the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe. The pre-facelift version was only available in fully imported AMG spec, but now the GLC Coupe can be had as a non-AMG model and is also being locally assembled. So is this a solid addition to the GLC range or another one to please the masses?
The GLC Coupe is dimensionally very similar to the regular GLC SUV, only 73mm longer and 24 mm wider. Both SUVs look very similar when viewed from the front, the Coupe differentiating itself with richer all-LED lighting. The grille is split by a single chrome strip running through and comes with the diamond-studding we saw in the outgoing GLC 43 AMG as well. The mildly more aggressive look is followed lower down too with a bumper that's shared with the standard GLC, with the ornamental chrome skid-plates and the air dams on the side. You'd be hard-pressed to notice all of this at first glance, but the overall effect is that of more intent.
Things take a dramatic turn as you move past the B-pillar. The roof slopes down starkly from here on and melds into a notchback boot. The way this section draws attention with its upturned edge is a nice touch. Also very well done is how this element accentuates the strong rear haunches of the car. The tail lamps also play a nice visual trick in how they enlarge the car's width from the rear, although we feel that this effect could have also been achieved with them being a size smaller. In profile, the rear doors are different with smaller windows but the overall shape is still cohesive and meets the brief for what is expected from a coupe. The other change is the new, quite fetching, 19-inch alloy wheels.
Once inside the GLC Coupe, you realize quite quickly that this cabin is pandering to the driver. You sit snug in the cabin, mainly because of the high edge of the dash and the low-seat seating, with a good view of the bonnet in front. This effect is never claustrophobic, even with the dark trim option on our tester.
In keeping with this driver-centric thought, Mercedes-Benz has added quite a few more features to the GLC Coupe, when seen alongside its SUV cousin. There's the 10.25-inch MBUX infotainment that debuted on the GLC. This interface makes accessing the car's many functions much simpler, but the crisp 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that the Coupe adds makes things even more accessible. Another big draw is the new adjustable seats with lumbar support, these let you adjust and save your settings for even the outer seat squab and headrests, so a very comfortable driving position is never tricky to find.
Also new is wireless charging and USB-C ports front and back. You'll need an adapter to make those work on your regular Android phones for now, but at least your GLC Coupe is future-ready. The dash itself is a straight lift from that of the regular GLC, but that's no bad thing. You get the same crisp layout with materials and switchgear feeling quite a bit more premium than anything else in this class. The only real oversight we could think of was the absence of the hi-end Burmester audio system that's available on the E-Class. The standard speaker set-up is pretty good, but the Burmester ones with their crisper sound quality and intricate aluminium covers would have lifted the cabin's ambience even further.
The GLC Coupe also does well to mitigate much of the impracticality that comes with a coupe-ish shape. The rear headlining has been scooped out so passenger's get a few inches more of headroom. This helps because the rear seat isn't as nice a place to be in as the front, not helped by the high window-line or the slightly upright seatback with less than ideal under-thigh support. That being said, there's enough leg and headroom for all but the tallest of occupants. The boot is also more sizeable now, given that the spare wheel has now moved to its own storage space underneath. There's 500 litres of space at least, accessed via a convenient powered tailgate.
In keeping with the driver-focused theme of the GLC Coupe, the SUV comes with more potent versions of the engines offered on the conventional GLC. There are a petrol and diesel motor, both 2.0-litre units in the 300 and 300d guise respectively. We drove the diesel GLC 300d, and as with our earlier experiences with this OM 654 motor, came away suitably impressed.
The motor seems to use every bit of the 245PS and 500 Nm that's available to it very well. On the move, there's none of the delay you typically associate with diesel engines. The motor is always alert to throttle inputs and revs out quite briskly when you need it to. There's also a very un-diesel-like throaty note to it at higher revs. The nine-speed torque-converter gearbox keeps the motor in the business end of its powerband in all driving situations, although we would have liked it better if it reacted slightly quicker to downshifts when you ask for more power. But as the 7.3s 0 to 100 kmph time suggests, this is a minor grievance.
In more sedate driving around town, the motor does very well to meld into the background. You barely hear it but progress is uncluttered with swathes of overtaking grunt available to you when you need it. The OM 654 motor has drawn up some astonishing fuel efficiency figures in our testing before, and the GLC Coupe continues with that tradition. We got 11 kmpl in the city and a staggering 20.5 kmpl on the highway.
Ride and Handling
Driver's of the GLC Coupe can choose between five drive modes which change steering feel, gearshift points and throttle response. These range from Eco to Sport+ and a configurable individual setting. We found Sport to be the sweet spot. This adds the right amount of heft and accuracy to the steering wheel and sharpens the gear changes. But all of these interactions are progressive enough to be used in regular driving situations and help with making the most of the GLC Coupe's ride and handling setup.
The coupe SUV's suspension has been stiffened a bit to match the rest of the car's greater focus on the driver. This means that it's a bit less comfortable over rough road surfaces at slow speeds, although milder imperfections don't enter the cabin all too much. This evens out to a very large extent at high speeds, where the GLC Coupe settles into a steady, pliant demeanour. As with other SUVs of its ilk, the GLC Coupe is a very comfortable highway machine. Scrubbing off these speeds aren't an issue either, the GLC Coupe can come to a dead stop from 100 kmph in 39.3m, a number that'll put some similarly sized sedans to shame.
This stiffness also helps the GLC Coupe around corners, where the SUV will stay true to its line up to an extent. Although as you would expect of something this heavy and tall, there is some lean. Push further over long, sweeping high-speed corners and you start noticing the AWD system managing the SUV's torque with more of it going to the rear wheels to quell understeer, although some vertical movement does creep in here. This happens at quite high speeds and isn't a situation you'll face very often on a road trip. But we think Mercedes could have fitted its adaptive air suspension to the GLC Coupe, which works very well to nullify just these kinds of discrepancies and would have suited the car's sportier positioning quite nicely.
The Mercedes comes with a very strong suite of safety tech. There's a 360-degree camera that makes quick work of tight urban situations while the front, side, curtain and driver-knee airbag mean you'll be well-protected during an impact. Other highlights are the self-parking function, a TPMS, and Mercedes' Pre-Safe system that preps the cars to better face an emergency braking situation by pre-tensioning the seatbelts, and prepping the brakes for maximum force when the driver applies it to stop the car. The Mercedes Me suite of connected tech is available here as well, which adds functions like vehicle monitoring, emergency calling and so on.
The GLC Coupe makes more sense when you think of it as a souped-up SUV, rather than a raised sports car. It's the GLC for you if you spend more time driving your luxury SUV than being driven around in it. And if you want to be seen in an SUV that doesn't follow the set notion of what one should look like. The diesel motor adds to this by being a very practical machine, with the right blend of performance and efficiency.
Sure, the Rs 76.9 lakh (on-road, Mumbai) price tag is a steep Rs 8.5 lakh premium over a diesel GLC, but the GLC Coupe adds enough in terms of features, performance and looks to justify that. And if you are one of the few who wants their coupe-SUV to feel closer to a sports car, the GLC Coupe's AMG version is heading here soon enough.
Images by Anis Shaikh
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