Back in March of this year, we attended a very special event. The event in question was driving a pre-production GLC Coupe around Stuttgart before the car had even been revealed to the public! This would happen just over a week later at the New York Motor Show. Fast forward three-and-a-half months and we got to experience the GLC Coupe again, this time in full production spec! The GLC Coupé owes its distinct character to a characteristically coupé-esque, single-louvred diamond radiator grille and a restyled, dropping roof line. The Apillar is less steeply raked, while the continuation of the roof outline is lower, terminating in the elegantly flowing, muscular tail end characteristic of a coupé. Marketed as the “Sports car among the mid-size SUVs” the GLC Coupe is 76 millimetres longer than it’s sibling, at a length of 4.73metres, has a wheelbase of 2.87metres, and sits 38 millimetres lower.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé (C253), Press Test Drive Turin 2016

Design

The GLC Coupe design sees the Mercedes design idiom of it’s current SUV models blended with the characteristic elongated roof line of a sports coupé. This combines the multi-functionality of the of an SUV with the sporty design and feel of a stylish coupe, in the same manner that Mercedes-Benz succeeded with the GLE Coupe, but in a more compact package. As you’d expect, the GLC Coupe shares the majority of its architecture with its hatchback brother, the GLC. It features a steeply raked front that flows into the bonnet, before meeting the A-pillar. The re-styled roof slopes down in to the elegant curved tail end of the coupe and features rear window that has dispensed with a rear wiper. It’s powerful bumper design, with integrated exhaust and diffuser at the rear, help to reaffirm the sport characteristics of the GLC Coupe. Despite the GLC Coupe having greater exterior dimensions, the GLC 250 4MATIC comes in at a curb weight of 1710kg. Weight saving has been gained by the use of a new hybrid material body and by manufacturing a vast majority of the components from aluminium. For example the front wing, bonnet, roof panelling, door hinges and various suspension components to name but a few. Additionally 12 kilograms are saved by casing the powertrain in magnesium instead of aluminium. The optional Air Suspension can further increase weight-saving through the use of glass-fibre-reinforced plastic. Thanks to it’s elegant design, the GLC Coupe boast segment leading aerodynamic performance.

Engine & Performance

Under the hood there is the choice of eight engine variants, four diesel, three petrol and one plug-in hybrid. The entry level engine is the 200d, which produces 136hp, whilst the most powerful variant being the V6 bitrubo GLC 43 4Matic Coupe that outputs 367hp and has a 0-100km/h time of 4.9seconds. The plug-in hybrid comes in the form of the 350 e 4MATIC, and has an output of 320hp whilst emitting just 59-64g of CO2/km. A new standard in its class. The plug-in hybrid offered up to 34km off emission free driving, a 0-100km/h time of 5.9seconds and an electric-only top speed of 135 km/h. The full range on offer is as follows; 200 d, 220 d 4MATIC, 250 d 4MATIC, 350 d 4MATIC, 250 4MATIC, 300 4MATIC, 43 4MATIC and the 350 e 4MATIC. Thanks to a reduced-frication all-wheel-drive powertrain, outstanding aerodynamics and an intelligent lightweight design the GLC Coupe boasts minimal fuel consumption and emissions whilst also offering performance on a par with that of a sports car.

The Plug-in Hybrid comes equipped with Silent Start, which lets the GLC start almost silently by running in purely electric mode with the combustion engine kicking in later if needed. Another feature of the plug-in hybrid is Boosting, where the electric motor kicks in to add an additional 85kW to the combustion engines output, dropping the 0-100km/h time to 5.9 seconds. When the GLC Coupe is in Eco or Comfort mode, there is the option of four operating modes. Hybrid mode, which uses all the hybrid functions, boost, recuperation and electric mode, to give the optimum fuel efficiency. E-mode is used for all-electric driving. E-Save, allows for the charge state of the battery to be maintained, allowing for all-electric driving at a later stage in the journey and Charge mode, which charges the battery whilst driving on the combustion engine.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 Coupé; Exterieur: brilliantblau; Interie

Gearbox & Chassis

Both the petrol and the diesel versions of the GLC Coupe come equipped with the 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission, whilst the plu-in hybrid comes with the 7GTRONIC PLUS transmission that has been optimised for the needs of a hybrid vehicle. The new all-wheel-drive powertrains allocate the drive torque to the front and rear axles with a 45:55 split via a planetary differential, and depending on which mode the GLC Coupe is in, can offer enjoyable high speed shifting as well as gentle, gear changes for enjoyable cruising.
As briefly stated above, there are five different modes the GLC Coupe can be set in. The “Eco” setting puts the emphasis on energy-efficient driving, and is tuned to make the GLC Coupe drive in the most efficient manner possibly, whilst “Comfort” mode balances it’s comfortable suspension setting with a fuel-efficient engine set up. Next there is “Sport” and “Sport+”, both of which primarily focus on offering sports car esq handling and performance. The “Sport” setting lowers the GLC Coupe by 15mm when fitted with Air Body Control, whilst the suspension firms up and throttle response opens up. “Sport+” takes the “Sport” setting and gives you an evan more responsive and firm configuration, to further give that feel of a sports car. The final setting available is “Individual” which lets you configure the suspension, steering, and performance to your own personal preferences.

As standard the GLC Coupe offers a sports suspension with robust sprinting and a reduced tendency to roll. Things can be made even sportier with the selection of the Dynamic Body Control option, which features steel sprinting and adjustable damping. The second optional suspension set up is Air Body Control air suspension. This configuration combines excellent driving stability with optimal comfort, whist still harbouring it’s sporty edge.
The GLC Coupe is the only model in its sector that offers the fitting of multi-chamber air suspension system and the electronically controlled, continuously adjustable Adaptive Damping System Plus (ADS PLUS). Further benefits of the Air Body Control are reduced roll during cornering, automatic level control and the ability to lower the load compartment 40 mm for loading and unloading. When the GLC Coupe is put into Comfort mode, and is equipped with Air Body Control, the spring and damper forces instantaneously adjust to maintain an especially comfortable ride even in cases of sudden movement.

Interior
The interior of the GLC coupe is styled on a level that is on-par with models in a more expensive segment. This comes from the choice of high-class materials, and the craftsmanship put in to create them. The Mercedes-Benz interior design ethos is carried across from sibling models in to the GLC Coupe. In the centre of the GLC Coupe is the large, one-piece console panel that sweeps down to the armrest. Position centrally, and partially integrated in to the top of centre console is the multifunctional display, available as standard as 7” screen or 8.4” when the Comand Online option is ordered. Ambient lighting is available in three colours in the GLC Coupe, solar (amber), polar (ice blue) and neutral (white), all of which have five brightness settings and can be selected from the main command unit. In the front of the GLC Coupe are sportily configured climatised seats, that due to their design, offer great comfort across the shoulders and generous legroom for rear passengers and include ventilation with reversible direction of flow. The rear seats boast individual set character and can be folded with a 40/20/40 split, whilst the automatic child seat recognition system ditches the old transponder in favour of a weight mat. This means that any child seat can be used and the airbag is automatically deactivated.
When it comes to covering the interior of the GLC Coupe, there is a wide selection of colours, materials available to spec. ARTICO, ARTICO/DINAMICA, leather and nappa leather are all available as options and can be combines with various trim packages including in black piano-lacquer look (standard equipment), in open-pore ash wood or AMG carbon fibre / light longitudinal-grain aluminium. Another feature is Pre-entry Climate Control. This allows the driver to pre-set the interior climate via the Mercedes me connect app, before entering the GLC Coupe. So in winter you can set the GLC Coupe to always warm up before your journey to work, and in summer cool it down before you head home.

As standard, the GLC coupe comes with the Audio 20 CD system, and is fronted by a 7-inch display in the centre console. There is also bluetooth connectivity, audio streaming and USB ports. With the addition of the optional Garmin Map Pilot, the Audio 20 CD system becomes a fully-fledge navigation system. Another option available is Comand Online, which increase the display size to 8.4-inches and increase the resolution. Comand Online also allows access to digital TV & Radio, live tailback avoidance, voice0operated controls and a WLAN hotspot. Thanks to the Burmeister surround sound system installed in the car, the audio quality is on-par with that which you would expect in a professional concert hall, thanks to the 9-channel DSP amplifier, 13 speakers and total system output of 590 watts! As expected in all Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes me connect is avail be in the GLC Coupe. Meaning that Accident Recovery, Breakdown Management, Maintenance Management and Telediagnostics are all available.

Assistance Systems
As with all new current models, there is a long list of systems on the GLC Coupe to help assist you in staying as safe as possible whilst on the road. Included as standard are assistance systems such as Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Crosswind Assist, Headlamp Assist, Attention Assist and Distronic Plus.
Collision Prevention Assist Plus uses a radar-based system to constantly monitor the traffic in front of the vehicle, and can determine the distance and speed of the vehicles ahead. If the distance drops significantly below the safety threshold, the system issues a visual warning to the driver, with an audible warning coming if there is a serious risk of collision. Whilst doing this the system is also calculating the braking power required to prevent an impact from speeds as low as 7 km/h. If the driver fails to react to any of the warnings then the system can go one step further and autonomously brake for slower or stopping vehicles. Attention Assist warns the driver of inattentiveness and drowsiness, with the the instrument cluster displaying the level of drowsiness and how long the driver has gone since their last break. Headlamp Assist allows for the headlights to be permanently on main beam, with a sensor detecting any oncoming traffic and masks the beam from them. Automatic Parking Assist is also present and allows for automated parking with active steering and brake intervention in both parallel and perpendicular parking spaces. All the driver now has to do to activate the system is engage reverse gear and confirm by pressing the OK button on the steering wheel. The driver is able to control acceleration of the vehicle by lightly pressing the accelerator or releasing the brake. Another option is BAS Plus with Cross-Traffic Assist. This system not only helps to avoid or reduce rear-end collisions in traffic, but also incidents that involving crossing traffic and pedestrians. In the event of a collision the system visual and audibly warns the driver, assisting the driver if they brake to lightly, and in some case applying the brakes its self.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé (C253), Press Test Drive Turin 2016

Edition 1
Also available for the GLC Coupe, is the exclusive EDITION 1 package. Exterior features of this package include the AMG exterior line, night package, 20” light-alloy AMG wheels, High Performance LED headlamps and heat- and noise-insulating acoustic glass. Inside the Edition 1 there is bi-colour look leather upholstery which is available in two different specifications. The fist combination is based on the AMG Interior line, and has sports seats in two-tone cranberry red/black leather and black open-pore ash wood trim. The second option is the Exclusive interior, which has the designo two-tone design platinum white pearl/black interior including light longitudinal-grain aluminium trim in the dashboard and doors plus black open-pore ash wood trim in the centre console. Other distinguishing features are the Edition 1 lettering on the front wings and Edition 1 badge on the centre console. The Edition 1 is time-limited and is available to spec on all engine and paintwork variants.

Driving Experience

To get our first experience of the production spec GLC coupe range, I headed to Turin to drive the several models over a 24hour period in the Aosta Valley. Upon arriving in Turin I was transferred by a waiting Mercedes-Benz shuttle service and driving to the amazing former royal residence of Reggia di Venaria Reale. Regular readers should recognise that name as the end destination of our Parco Valentino experience on our Tour last year, and the location for our meeting with Pagani’s Vanishing Point Rally!

Upon arriving at Reggia di Venaria Reale the range of GLC Coupe we had on offer for the 24hrs was were spread out in front of the residence. I had been given the keys to a Diamond-Silver Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Coupe with Dynamic Body Control for the first leg of the journey, A 100+km drive up to our overnight hotel of Grand Hotel Billia in Saint-Vincent. Once out of Venaria Reale, it was on to the E25 to Ivrea and I got myself familiar and comfortable in the car, firstly by setting the GLC 300 Coupe into Comfort mode. The GLC 300 Coupe ate up the kilometres and in now time we had reached the exit for Ivrea. After turning off the E25 it was off into the twisty mountain roads behind Turin. For this I switched the GLC 300 Coupe into Sport+. Instantly you could feel the GLC 300 Coupe sink down, the suspension firm up, the throttle become more responsive and the engine growl. The GLC 300 Coupe stuck to the road twisty roads great, and with each corner it seemed to get more and more comfortable being powered up the small roads. Again it seemed that in no time I was at our overnight accommodation, the Grand Hotel Billia. After checking in, it was back out to the front of the hotel to have a go in the Diamond White Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e Coupe that Mercedes-Benz had charged and waiting. For this plug-in hybrid test, Mercedes had designed a 24km route around Saint-Vincent with idea of trying to only use the hybrid power unit for its entirety. I almost managed this feat, had it not been for a car pulling out of a side street without looking and having to accelerate to avoid it. The plug-in hybrid was an eye opener, the short drive around Saint-Vincent showed how plug-in technology can be utilised in inner city environments for short travel.
The next day started off by taking the Hyacinth Red Mercedes-Benz GLC 350d Coupe with Air Body Control out on the longer route around the mountains behind Saint-Vincent. For the first half of this loop I jumped into the passenger seat. After about 40km I switched over, and put the 350d Coupe in to Sport to see how it differed from Sport+. In Sport you could feel the suspension tighten and the engine become more responsive, but in the twisty roads it just didn’t feel as tight and close as it did in the 300 Coupe in Sport+ with the previous day. I believe this is down the suspension option on the two vehicles. The Air Body Control on the 350d Coupe felt the smoother of the two, but when pushed hard didn’t have the same feel and feedback as the Dynamic Body Control on the 300 Coupe. Once returning to the hotel to collect my luggage, it was back in the 350d Coupe and time to make my way down the mountain and onto the E25 for the last blast back to the airport. For the stretch from hotel to the highway, the 350d was in sport+, and the again the sportiness of this setting complimented the fast and sometimes twisty roads that led back down to the E25. Once I was back on the highway, it was into comfort mode to experience the air suspension in a more natural environment. The air suspension was fantastic on the cruise back to the airport, being so smooth and effortless.

Conclusion
In conclusion, the Mercdes-Benz GLC Coupe manages to bridge the gap between mid-size SUV and sports car very well. With it’s interior and extior design befitting what we’ve come to expect from a Mercedes-Benz, the GLC Coupe manages to both be a sensible, comfortable, highway cruiser and agile, sporty, sports utility toy at the same time. My only complaint with the GLC Coupe, is that at 6ft2” my head hit the roof when sat in the back. Just another reason to keep behind the wheel! Available to order now the GLC Coupe starts at €49,444.50.

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