Updated with official video. We take a ride in the new four-wheel drive Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé as it prepares to take on the BMW X4 and Porsche Macan
17 March 2016

We’re introduced to the GLC Coupé, the newest addition to Mercedes-Benz’s line-up, at the grandly named Centre Of Excellence on the outskirts of Stuttgart, where its most valued customers come to specify and collect their cars.

Parked on the forecourt of the plush showroom, the pre-production prototype of the high-riding four-door lift back has only minimal disguise just over a week before the BMW X4 rival makes its world debut at New York motor show

Read our 2016 Mercedes GLC 350 d Coupé review here

Originally previewed in concept car guise at the 2015 Shanghai motor show, there are no big surprises when we get up close for the first time. Predictably, some of the more obvious concept car design flourishes have been toned down on the way to production. 

However, the GLC Coupé, which goes under the internal codename C253, boasts an impressively assertive appearance with heavy stylistic influences from the more practical GLC SUV; both are produced at Mercedes-Benz’s Bremen plant in Germany.


As you’d expect, the GLC Coupé shares its mechanical package with the GLC. Still, the only common body panels are the bonnet, front wings, and lower doors. The remainder of the body is unique.

The sporty sibling’s design 

The exterior design is distinguished by a confident-looking front end, with its bold grille, structured bumper and heavily decorated headlamps graphics. But it is in profile, where added rake to the windscreen, heavily plunging roofline and shallow glasshouse are shown to full effect, that the sporty nature of the new Mercedes-Benz is fully emphasised. 

Together with nicely integrated C-pillar treatment, a sloping liftback-style tailgate and high-set rear deck, the styling of the GLC Coupé is arguably more attractive than its bigger brother, the GLE Coupé.

More than the styling, though, it is the self assured stance that leaves it mark. Sitting on optional 20-inch wheels shod with a combination of 255/45 profile front and generous 285/40 rear tyres, the new Mercedes-Benz appears nicely poised.  

The GLC Coupé stretches 76mm beyond the GLC SUV at 4736mm owing to a longer rear overhang. The more heavily raked windscreen and a relatively shallow glasshouse also make it 40mm lower than its closely related sibling at 1600mm. 

The familiarity continues as we climb inside. The cabin and all its various trims are brought over from the GLC SUV without any obvious change. It is a stylish driving environment, boasting heavy stylistic links with that of the latest C-Class. Yet despite the shared interior, there is a more sporting feel to the GLC Coupé thanks to a 40mm reduction in front headroom.

The plunging roofline has meant changes to the rear quarters in a bid to provide sufficient rear seat headroom and boot space. “We’ve lowered the seat squab by 10mm and the back rest is set at a more upright angle than it is in the GLC SUV,” says Mercedes-Benz chief engineer Michael Kelz. Boot space has also suffered in the transformation, although Mercedes-Benz is yet to reveal by how much.  

Three different chassis options 

Heading out of Mercedes-Benz vast Stuttgart factory on to public roads for the first time, Kelz reveals the GLC Coupé will come with three different chassis options. “There is a basic steel spring variant and an optional air body control variant with dual chamber air springs – both of which are shared with the GLC SUV but with unique tuning. To this, we’ve added a steel spring variant with variable damping control that we call dynamic body control,” he says.

This latter set-up is included on the prototype we’re riding in. Set to be introduced as a running change on the GLC SUV later this year, it provides the choice between three different levels of damper stiffness via Mercedes-Benz’s Drive Select system: comfort, sport and sport plus.

Switching between the three modes, the GLC Coupé feels more firmly underpinned than the GLC SUV. Given the generous ride height, body control is very tidy. It feels nicely tied down when loaded up in corners and resists float over undulating section of black top with impressive composure.

The ride quality is also very good with commendable absorption properties and excellent refinement, although the German roads we encountered were typically smoothed surfaced, so definitive conclusions will have to wait until we get to drive it in the UK later in the year.

Further changes have been focused on the steering. In keeping with efforts to provide it with a more sporting feel than its recently introduced sister model, the GLC Coupé’s electro-mechanical set-up receives a more direct ratio than the GLC SUV at 16.2:1 versus 15.1:1. Kelz insists there is added response and greater agility in keeping with the new model’s sporting brief.  

We’ll have to take the Mercedes-Benz chief engineer’s word on the handling for now, although the GLC Coupé prototype managed to dismiss some of the more challenging roads on our run through the Black Forest with striking nimbleness. There’s plenty of grip mid-corner and the inherent properties of its four-wheel drive system provide it with outstanding traction when powering out of bends.  

Same choice of engines as GLC 

The GLC Coupé will be available from the start of UK sales with the same choice of longitudinally mounted engines as the recently launched GLC. Included is a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol unit with 201bhp in the GLC 250 Coupe as well as a turbocharged 2.2-litre diesel that develops 168bhp in the GLC 220 d Coupé and a gutsier 201bhp in the GLC 250 d Coupe.

Both engines come mated to Mercedes-Benz’s excellent nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox featuring a column mounted shift lever and 4Matic four-wheel drive system as standard – a move that reflects the sales strategy already taken with the GLC.

Shortly after launch during the fourth quarter of 2016, a further four engines will join the line-up. Among them is more highly tuned version of the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 242bhp, as used by the GLC 300 Coupé prototype, we rode in.

It will be joined by a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 254bhp in the GLC 350 d Coupé and twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 petrol unit with 362bhp in a range-topping GLC 43 Coupe developed by Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance car division.

Continuing the German car maker’s alternative engine, the new high riding four-door liftback will also be available with a plug in petrol-electric hybrid system. Similar to that unveiled in the E 350 e, it combines a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor for a total system output of 275bhp in the GLC 350 e Coupé.

Looking to broaden its appeal, Mercedes-Benz says it also plans to offer the GLC Coupé in rear-wheel drive guise, although only in combination with selected engines and with a standard six-speed manual gearbox.

The most powerful of the turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol units provides the X4 and Macan rival with more than adequate performance. There is a good deal of shove at the lower end of the rev range in lower gears thanks to an abundance of torque at not much more than the 800rpm idle. In sport and sport plus modes, the GLC Coupé also possesses a fittingly sporting exhaust note as a flap opens to enhance its volume and provide it with distinctive raspy tone under load.

We’ll have to wait until its planned unveiling at next week’s New York motor show before official performance claims are released, though the new Mercedes-Benz already appears poised to build on the success of the GLC SUV. When it hits the UK later this year expect prices of the GLC Coupé to start at around £37,000.

Join the debate


15 March 2016

I'm used to MB looking rather dull and undistinguished from the outside but why do their interiors get such praise from the press? They look tacky, generic, uninteresting and generally uninviting.

Fine cars they may be, but I have no wish to spend my time inside one. MB seem to have lost all sense of aesthetic good manners.

16 March 2016

Silly and grotesque. 4.7m long, high and wide, yet it sounds as if it can't sit 4 people in comfort. This is not a sports coupe, which compromises packaging for better dynamics and prettier looks for the rest of us to enjoy. This will almost certainly drive worse than the equivalent C class. When will it all stop?

16 March 2016

You really need to sit inside a new Mercedes to appreciate the quality, design and attention to detail.
I am not just talking about the S-class which always raises bar at what the ultimate luxury car should be and gives us the most technologically advanced features in any automobile, but Mercedes drastically improved the interiors across their vehicle line up starting with the 2014 C-class.
The controls, buttons and switchgear move and operate with precision and a quality feel. Many parts are dampered and move ever so smoothly and gracefully.
From the beautifully detailed hooded gauges, to the knurled alloy knobs and switches which is a tactile delight, to the finely crafted wood or carbon fibre trim (the open pore wood is stunning), to the ambient night lighting, the attention to detail is amazing and something you can't compare to any other luxury car company. Take a look at the alloy speaker grilles on the upgraded stereo system, they are as beautiful to look as it is to feel, just like a piece of jewellery.

If anything, BMW's and Audi's interior are staid, dated and unremarkable in comparison, while Lexus' and Infiniti's interior styling lacks elegance and cohesion.
And American luxury car makers like Cadillac and Lincoln still can't get their quality and refinement right.

Mercedes styling and design inside and out may not be flashy but it is elegant, tasteful and thoughtful which will surely stand the test of time which Mercedes is known for.

I think the inside of the car is just as important, if not, more important than the outside as you spend most of the time behind the wheel and I think Mercedes really created a very pleasant, ergonomic and comfortable place to be in.
I may sound like an advertisement but I own a late model Mercedes and love it and will definitely purchase another one.

16 March 2016

OK OK I get your drift.

16 March 2016

I sat in several recent cars in the MB experience centre in Surrey. The interiors especially in the higher spec cars are ergonomically sound but sensual and feel nice. They certainly offer a point of difference from rational Audi's and BMW's.


16 March 2016

...that's one hell of a stutter.

16 March 2016

I get your drift too. There is material attention to detail and aesthetic attention to detail. While I agree that current Mercedes (A class apart) are far better put together than their 90s equivalents, and that the interiors are very fine indeed, there is still the question of exterior design. Model after model there are fussy detailing and awkward proportions which I find very disappointing after MB under Bruno Sacco and, before him, Paul Bracq.


16 March 2016

Agree abkq, totally.
Exterior styling is now fussy and bordering on tacky with models such as E-classe now covered in random strips of chrome resembling a fairground lorry.
I agree the interiors have vastly improved...My GL 500 has a beautiful interior particularly with the combination of Cream leather and wood, BUT I hate the latest fad of the I-Pads perched on the dash rather than integrated into the dash. Yes it is easier to read while driving but not necessary when navigating due to the voice commands.

16 March 2016

I'm guessing that those who like the interiors of MBs like a bit of bling. I find them tasteless and fussy. Yes, they're well put together, but they are no better than the exteriors in terms of aesthetics, but I guess aesthetics is a game MB gave up on a good while ago.

17 March 2016

Saw A GLE recently - it was parked next to an old E-Class and totally dwarfed it. This was in Central London. The grotesque scale of the thing (especially seen from a pedestrian's pov) was scary! How did we get to this point??

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    21 October 2016
    Can Seat’s first SUV impress, even with the heavy burden of expectation?
  • Car review
    21 October 2016
    The last hurrah for the current Aston Martin Vantage adds the track-ready GT8 to the range
  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    20 October 2016
    New S5 Sportback is more spacious, better to drive and offers a calmer ride than before, but rivals offer greater involvement
  • Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy
    First Drive
    19 October 2016
    Mildly revised hot hatch is enjoyable on UK roads but continues to play second fiddle to the Ford Fiesta ST
  • 2016 Smart fortwo Brabus cabrio xclusive
    First Drive
    18 October 2016
    Mechanical upgrades make the Smart Fortwo Brabus cabrio better to drive, but it’s too pricey to recommend