Calgary, Alberta — Automotive manufacturers are constantly on the lookout for that rare pearl, the segment-buster that will rack up sales and profits while competitors rush to respond to the new standard-setter seemingly conjured up out of nowhere. A prime example is the Nissan JUKE, launched in 2011 and credited with starting the ball rolling for small crossovers.
Higher up the automotive food chain, the BMW X6 also broke new ground for what became known as coupe-style SUVs. Acura is likely still wondering just how it missed its mark with the ZDX, launched not long afterward. Today, the X6 has not only been remodeled, it’s even given birth to a baby brother, the BMW X4 – which likely won’t be the last either.
Utility coupes have in fact also gone forth and multiplied at Mercedes-Benz, whose GLE Coupe is a sportier derivation of the GLE. This year, the Silver Star manufacturer adds a racier version to its GLC lineup.
Already available at dealerships, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe complements its more conventional sibling, and mimics it in offering two distinct versions: the GLC 300 4MATIC and the GLC 43 4MATIC. And rest assured, the company’s Canadian division has confirmed the introduction here of AMG’s GLC 63 editions in winter 2018. These will be the first SUVs in their category to feature a V8 turbo.
Mercedes-Benz Canada invited a few members of the automotive press to come and discover the qualities of the GLC Coupe. Here’s what it impressed on us…
Two mechanical set-ups… for now!
As of this moment, consumers can only choose from two engine configurations for the utility coupe. The base model of the 2017 GLC 300 4MATIC Coupe houses a 2.0L, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine, already widely in use by Mercedes-Benz.
As its name indicates, the 4MATIC all-wheel drive system is also included, complemented by a 9-speed automatic transmission box. Obviously, the system comes with paddle shifters on the back of the steering wheel. The set-up can generate 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque, giving the car more than enough power whether in the urban environment or out on the highway.
The Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC Coupe, meanwhile, is designed and able to provide a superior sensory experience. Not only does it feature a 3.0L V6 turbo generating 362 hp and 284 lb-ft of torque (via the same transmission box), but its 4MATIC is sportier. In fact the distribution of torque between the axles is not the same in the two models: the GLC 300’s rear axle can get up to 55% of available torque, while in the GLC 43 this percentage can climb to 69%.
While the V6 engine is not hand-assembled at the Affalterbach factory like the automaker’s V8s and 4-cylinders, it is programmed by the performance division. What’s more, the spruced-up GLC 43 also features larger disc brakes and improved steering and suspension.
Behind the wheel of a sports coupe
The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe is, according to the company’s representatives, both a sports car and an SUV, and really it’s hard to argue with them on this point. The utility element of the vehicle may be a debatable point, as second-row space is counted by the automaker in its calculations, and then there’s the space the trunk loses in the service of the coupe’s sleek silhouette. But in return, the sporty side of the beast kicks in every time you hit the accelerator.
The sound emitted by the 6-cylinder is an immediate indicator of the abilities of the GLC 43 Coupe. Getting from 0 to 100 km/h takes just 4.9 seconds (!), and this was evidenced in the fearsome acceleration we were able to get during our test drive on the back roads of Alberta. Even the 4-cylinder can do the 0-100 km/h in 6.5 seconds, which says a lot about the inherent potential of this coupe-style SUV.
In both versions, the automatic transmission box proved transparent when the Normal and Eco modes were engaged, and much more direct when in Sport or Sport+ mode.
Unsurprisingly, the adrenaline sweepstakes were won by the GLC 43 Coupe. That said, the GLC Coupe has absolutely no reason to feel inadequate, especially with an official fuel consumption rating of 9.8L/100 km.
The GLC Coupe: family-friendly?
To this question, I must answer in the negative. Even with its four doors, and though its cargo space is only slightly smaller than the regular GLC’s, the GLC Coupe has more in common with a sports coupe than with a roomy car ready to swallow all the gear a family might be apt to lug around on a daily basis.
In comparison with its horizontal-roof equivalent, then, it makes some compromises, at least in terms of utility. Of course, the good looks and exquisite finish of the GLC Coupe – in keeping with all of the brand’s products – will go a long way to winning over Canadian consumers just the same. Mercedes-Benz expects it to make up 20% of the total sales of the GLC.