2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe review

(Image: Gaurav Chandrasekhar/BBC TopGear India)

Merc’s newest coupe-SUV is here and looks promising

The days of boxy, utilitarian SUVs are clearly behind us.

With SUVs pretty much-replacing hatchbacks and sedans across price brackets and segments, the modern-day SUV buyer is looking for the butch appeal of a traditional SUV but with a dash of style and a dose of space and comfort. And with the advent of coupe-SUVs with slinky rooflines, we’re looking at SUVs that are certainly more err… car-like in design. With coupe-SUVs turning out to be such gorgeous looking things, I doubt anyone’s complaining though! I mean, a sloping roofline at the top and a more muscular bottom half and high ground clearance does look refreshing, no?

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Like the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe here. This is the facelifted version that went on sale internationally last year – we only had the more potent AMG version on sale in India till date, but now Mercedes-Benz India thinks there is a market for the regular GLC Coupe as well. And since I’ve been harping so much about design, let’s take a look at the GLC Coupe’s looks first. It stays true to the coupe form which makes it look sexier than the average midsize luxury SUV. The slightly flared haunches convey a bit of aggression, especially with the slim black cladding on the wheel arches. The GLC Coupe exudes a lot of charm from the front too, courtesy the restlyed bumper, the single slat grille with the large three-pointed star in the centre and of course the headlights with the C-shaped LED strips. In fact in a way, the headlights and grille remind me of the AMG GT. And that’s something, innit?

The piece-de-resistance on a coupe-SUV has to be the derriere though. The coupe stance of course looks familiar as we’ve seen the GLC 43 AMG before, but the tail lights have been redesigned and looked nice, especially in the darkness of the parking lot we were shooting inside. The interiors though are not exactly familiar territory, as you would have expected. The clickety-click rotor on the central arm rest has been put to rest finally and the infotainment screen is now a touchscreen! It’s been years and decades of using the rotor but now Mercedes-Benz has replaced it with a touchpad with haptic feedback. The bigger news though is the addition of Merc’s smart infotainment system dubbed the MBUX, making the GLC Coupe the second Mercedes product in India to feature it after the standard GLC.

The interface is slick and the touchscreen quick to respond though admittedly, I’m not a fan of the haptic feedback. Never been one. The good news for people like me then is that all I have to do is say “Hey Mercedes” and bark out pretty much any command I want to – change temperature settings, get directions to a place and whole a lot more! There’s over the air updates available for system and well, to look cool you can also lock or unlock your car remotely via the smartphone app! That’s just the tip of the iceberg as far as MBUX’s utility is concerned though – in a nutshell, Mercedes-Benz has done well in terms of ensuring the system is a cut above the infotainment systems offered by most mass brands today.

The interiors are in sync with what we’re used to seeing on new generation Mercedes cars and reek of the same classy feel. The all-digital instrument cluster is a familiar one and looks crisp, while allowing you to switch views to suit your mood. More importantly, I’m just an inch under six feet but even with the driver’s seat set to my height I had lots of lergoom at the rear, confirming that the GLC Coupe is a bonafide five-seat SUV for adults! The sloping roof didn’t quite flatten my mop either though I did feel my hair brush slightly against the roof, so headroom isn’t as bad as you would think. There’s enough bootspace to pack in a family’s weekend bags too – so there, a coupe-SUV isn’t as cramped as you’d think over a regular one.

Let’s get to the driving bit then. Mercedes is offering the GLC Coupe with petrol and diesel engines, both equipped with its 4MATIC system. The petrol is powered by a 2.0-litre four-pot turbo motor that puts out 258bhp and 370Nm. We drove though was the 300d, powered by a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel that churns out 245bhp and a stonking 500Nm and is mated to a 9-speed automatic. We’ve seen the same engine in the more powerful C-Class, the C 300d. And that’s a car I had the opportunity to push to its limits for hours, when I drove it at the Buddh International Circuit for a 24-hour endurance run! The motor delivers a strong punch, almost everywhere. It’s a tad noisy outside but once inside, there’s barely a trace of you running an oil burner under the hood. It can also be quite a sipper, should you drive with a light right foot.

Power delivery keeps getting progressively aggressive from Comfort to Sport but switch to Sport+ and throttle responses get really crisp, coupled with quicker shifts from the 9G-TRONIC transmission. You also have an Individual mode, should you wish to customise settings. The steering wheel feels responsive and weighs up well, though I did want it to be a wee bit more feedback-y. The view from behind the wheel isn’t any less commanding than the regular GLC, which in effect helps the coupe retain its SUV flavour. The rear windscreen is small given the coupe design though which means the view offered by the inside rear view mirror is quite restricted. The SUV flavour was more distinctive when I put the Coupe on Mercedes-Benz’s off-road track though – with 4MATIC and its high approach angle it had no trouble climbing up the ramps, though departure angle could have been slightly steeper.

Ride quality at low speeds is firm, but gets better at higher speeds. On the whole, the GLC Coupe feels more car-like to drive than the standard GLC, which is what the typical buyer would want. That, without trading off its SUV-virtues, in case you get fooled by the more alluring design. The design of course makes for better head turning abilities, which sets it apart from other midsize luxury SUVs. That said the GLC Coupe will face off against similarly styled SUVs like the BMW X4 and the Porsche Macan, both of which offer the distinct coupe flavour in heaps. The GLC Coupe will of course command a premium over the standard GLC, but needless to say, brings more oomph to the table than its relatively boxier sibling.

ENGINE 1950cc, Four-cylinder, diesel engine
POWER 245bhp
TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic
PRICE 62.70 lakh onwards (ex-showroom)