The coupe SUV class seems like a niche too far for some, but it’s one that continues to grow, both in choice and popularity. Mercedes was among the first to get in on the act with chopped roof versions of the GLE, while its second model to follow the formula has just received a mid-life update.
This, then, is the refreshed GLC Coupe. Revisions for the BMW X4 rival come at the same time as the rest of the GLC family, and the changes include subtle styling tweaks, an overhauled engine line-up and Merc’s latest infotainment tech.
As with the traditional five door GLC, the Coupe will be offered with a choice of 220 d and 300 d – both 2.0-litre diesels – from launch. The 300 petrol we’re driving here, will go on sale in the UK later this year, powered by a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit. It’ll give Merc a unique selling point over the established BMW, whose only petrol options are the more powerful X4 M40i and X4 M.
The new unit features mild hybrid tech – a first for the GLC. Known as ‘EQ Boost’, the system consists of a 48-volt electrical system and a belt-driven starter/alternator. It’s a set-up that helps to reduce load (and therefore fuel usage) on the engine in two ways. The first is by recouping energy when decelerating that can be redeployed under acceleration to minimise lag while the turbo spools up, and the second is through a ‘gliding’ function which can switch the engine off for fuel-free coasting.
Other fuel-saving tech includes a twin-scroll turbocharger and a new variable valve timing system, the latter of which gets the exhaust (and the particulate filter within) up to working temperature more quickly. The result is 38.1mpg on the official WLTP testing cycle, and 169g/km on NEDC-adjusted calculations.
The mild-hybrid setup works very well in practice. Between the engine turning off an on again, it rarely, if ever, feels caught out – firing up near-instantaneously with a press of the throttle pedal.
Elsewhere, the engine is a bit of a mixed bag. The engine isn’t particularly tuneful when pushed hard, and while performance is strong – 0-62mph takes just 6.2 seconds – it’s not faster than the 300 d. The diesel unit offers up an extra 130Nm of torque, which makes it feel much more lively in everyday driving – and that’s before either variant is fully loaded with people and belongings, where performance is likely to swing even further in the diesel’s favour. However, the standard nine-speed automatic gearbox is wonderfully smooth in everyday driving.
The rest of the driving experience remains much the same as before. On the top-spec air suspension set-up, the GLC Coupe delivers a relaxing ride for the most part, particularly compared to the much more firmly-sprung X4. On the other hand, the BMW feels sharper; even in sport mode, which drops the air springs by 15mm, the GLC doesn’t corner quite as flat. It feels slower to turn into a corner, and ultimately a little more lethargic.
So it doesn’t quite feel as sporty as the coupe tag suggests, and compared to practical SUV alternatives, it does bring with it some drawbacks. That sloping roofline eats into rear headspace, while the boot is 80 litres smaller than the standard GLC’s. At 500 litres it’s still a roomy area – just not that impressive by SUV standards.
From the driver’s point of view, the cabin hasn’t changed much in the latest round of updates, but the tech installed certainly has. All models get Mercedes’s latest MBUX infotainment system, which consists of a 10.25-inch display plonked on top of the dash. The inclusion of touchscreen functionality does wonders for the usability, and combined with a touchpad system first used on the A-Class, it means most users will be able to find an input method that’s comfortable for them.
Go for the optional Premium pack, and the standard analogue dials are replaced with a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display. As on the main infotainment screen, the graphics look clean and sharp, and the driver is able to tweak the information shown via touch sensitive pads on the steering wheel.
Prices for the Coupe start from £44,045, which is £2,875 more than the equivalent GLC SUV. The Coupe is available in AMG Line trim only, but comes with three upgrade packages: Premium, Premium Plus and Ultimate. As standard, there’s 19-inch wheels, sports suspension with adaptive dampers, and seats trimmed in a mix of faux leather and suede-like upholstery.
The £3,500 Premium pack adds 20-inch wheels, multibeam LED headlights, leather seats and that upgraded driver’s display. Premium Plus introduces a Burmester sound system, a panoramic glass roof, keyless go and memory seats, while the Ultimate comes with air suspension. The Premium Plus adds £9,625 to the base price of the AMG Line, and the Ultimate is another four grand on top of that.
While UK prices for the 300 petrol are still to be confirmed, it’s already available to order in Germany, where it costs roughly €2,000 more than the equivalent GLC 300 d. That’s a lot for a four-cylinder SUV – no matter how you look at it.