What is it?
The GLC Coupé is a niche within a niche within a niche. It’s the crossover version of the GLC SUV, which itself is an off-road-orientated iteration of the C-Class saloon. Its 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, meanwhile, is part of the cod-AMG ‘43’ range of Affalterbach-lite powerplants engineered but not built at Mercedes’ in-house tuning division’s famous factory.
So depending on your perspective, you can see it as a car that neatly cherry-picks the juiciest components from all the conceptual forms it represents – the style of a coupé, the practicality of an estate, the all-terrain ability of an SUV and the response of a sports car – or just a collection of disparate ideas, all lobbed at the wall in the hope that at least some of them will stick.
In statistical terms, the GLC 43 Coupé is the same as the GLC 43 SUV from which it is derived: same 362bhp power output, same 4.9sec 0-62mph sprint, same MPG, same CO2, same weight, same everything, in fact. But Mercedes says it has worked hard on the all-round air suspension to give the car a feel of its own: firmer, more controlled and dynamic. More fun, in other words.
What's it like?
Those who loathe the idea of cars like this for all the compromises their designs seem to encompass will likely hate the GLC43 Coupé even more, because the truth is that they will find the way it drives infuriatingly hard to criticise.
You sit high but not perched in a cabin whose quality is now a clear cut above anything else you might feel tempted to call a rival. Huge progress has been made to bring more character to this engine, and while it’s still some distance from the twin turbo V8s in ‘proper’ AMGs, the V6 revs cleanly, snarls convincingly and even spits and bangs betwixt shifts in Sport Plus mode.
And those suspension revisions have worked well. The Coupé is commendably composed for a car that’s so high and heavy; indeed working it hard across the Portuguese landscape, I soon forgot what kind of car I was in. It corners flat and fast and with genuine poise and precision; it’s a supremely easy car to drive quickly and a tremendously secure one, too.
But I’d still struggle to call it fun. Not in the way its roofline and AMG badging suggest it should be fun. Unquestionably competent, enjoyable for the sheer fluency with which it goes about its business, yes, but actual fun? Once the novelty of the snap, crackle and pop of the exhausts has worn off, not so much, no.
Should I buy one?
So the first question in need of an answer is whether it is worth the additional £3000 charged over the price of a standard GLC 43 SUV. And while it’s not a lot of additional money, it’s not buying you a scrap more performance, many would contend the Coupé is actually the less attractive car and of course you’re lumbering yourself with significantly reduced space in the back for both passengers and luggage. Seats down, there’s an enormous 200 litres of additional space available in the regular SUV.
Which means you’re either really going to need to buy into the style or really want the best-handling car this kind of money can buy. And the problem with the latter approach is that while the GLC 43 Coupé is unquestionably better to drive than its SUV compatriot, both still fall a distance short of the Porsche Macan GTS standard-setter, which is not only convincingly better to drive than the GLC 43 Coupé but is also bigger in both the back seats and its boot.
What this means is that if you are determined to buy a crossover coupé-cum-SUV in the £50,000 bracket, on looks alone we’d choose the Benz over its only natural rival, the BMW X4 xDrive 35d M Sport. But the truth is that the aforementioned Macan and the Jaguar F-Pace 3.0S are more entertaining to drive and more versatile family hold-alls.
This remains a category for those more interested in show than go, and good though the GLC43 Coupé undoubtedly is, it does nothing to make us want to modify that view.
Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 Coupé
Location: Portimao, Portugal Price £50,960; Engine V6, 2996cc, twin-turbo, petrol; Power 362bhp at 5500rpm; Torque 383lb ft at 2500rpm; 0-62mph 4.9sec; Top speed 155mph; Gearbox 9-spd dual-clutch automatic; Kerb weight 1845kg; Economy 34.0mpg (combined); CO2 192g/km, 37% Rivals BMW X4 xDrive 35d M Sport, Porsche Macan GTS