In its attempt to fill another niche, the Mercedes GLC Coupé is compelling next to BMW's X4, but misses the mark versus Porsche's Macan

What is it?

Do you remember when a coupé was a coupé? I do. You know, the fixed-roofed, two-door, sleek-rooflined things traditionally reserved for two people. Well, as the Mercedes GLC Coupé demonstrates, those days are long gone. It is quite definitely an SUV, based on the firm's GLC, but given a dose of slopy-roofed style.

Like the GLC, it shares its underpinnings with the Mercedes C-Class, while it borrows the GLC's bonnet, front wings and lower door panels. However, it sits lower than its SUV stablemate and is slightly longer overall, too.

Engine options in the UK begin with two versions of Merc's ageing 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel, the 220 and 250 d. By October there will be another two choices; the V6 diesel 350 d we drive here and an AMG 43 performance offering. In time - maybe two years - there will be a 350 e plug-in hybrid, but there are a few, er, gearbox problems to sort out, apparently.

Not so long ago the word niche was bandied about when it came to coupé SUVs, but with BMW and Mercedes now offering a brace, it seems amiss. Indeed, the GLC Coupé will be looking to tempt people away from the BMW X4, but the Porsche Macan is the one to beat for us here.

What's it like?

Mercedes has long been a connoisseur of the six-cylinder diesel and based on the GLC Coupé's, that remains the case. It fires to a creamy idle, revs smoothly and delivers luxurious waves of torque that make steep inclines and motorway overtakes superbly relaxing. Merc's nine-speed torque converter moves between its many gears intelligently enough by itself, too, and isn't too far behind paddle pulls. 

UK cars will come with passive Sport suspension as standard while for £1495 you can add adaptive air suspension - as fitted to all of our test cars. The result feels a different beast than offered by BMW or Porsche; with the emphasis more on comfort than outright agility. And that's no bad thing because our car stayed settled over ruts in town and felt supremely cushioning on the motorway, more so than its rivals. 

The GLC Coupé's steering has been made slightly quicker than the GLC's and switching from Comfort to Sport driving mode gives it extra weight, as well as making the gearbox snappier, the throttle more responsive and, (in our case), the suspension stiffer. Ultimately, you've got to be pushing extremely hard on the road before the front wheels start their journey wide, but the GLC Coupé never invigorates like a Macan.

The GLC Coupé's steering is fairly precise, but lacks the Porsche's razor-sharp, linear feel and you're aware of the Mercedes' weight shifting laterally through a series of bends that bit more too. If anything, our experience of the lighter-nosed 250 d on the same test drive event showed a slightly keener turn-in, even if it was still less urgent than its rivals.

But I'm not sure that's such an awful thing. The 350 d is brilliant at shutting out outside noise, while in the tallest of its many gear ratios its V6 is allowed to sink to a hush at a motorway cruise. Sat on air suspension, the GLC Coupé does quiet comfort even better, and that will count for a lot for many. 

The theme continues inside, where the driver is treated to a good, high driving position, with generous seat and wheel adjustment. Those in the back get about the same head room as in an X4, but probably a little less than in a Macan, while leg room is similar across the three. On paper, its 500-litre boot matches BMW and Porsche's efforts, but the X4 and GLC (unlike the Macan) suffer the same raked roofline and therefore hindered practicality. 

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The Mercedes holds it own for perceived quality, its switchgear and dash materials just about out-gunning the BMW and coming very close second to the solid but svelte Porsche. Our car's cabin was enhanced further by a £1395 Premium Plus Equipment Line, which adds Merc's larger-screened 8.0in Comand Online infotainment and beautifully crafted Burmester sound system. 

That said, the fact that a smaller-screened Garmin-based sat-nav infotainment, rear parking sensors, man-made leather seats, keyless start, a reversing camera, LED headlights, heated front seats and electronic tailgate all feature on every GLC Coupé might mean you don't need to begin the box ticking. 

Should I buy one?

We'll leave whether or not it looks the part up to you, but if you value comfort and refinement before driver engagement then the GLC Coupé has a lot going for it. Who knows, a drive of the standard-sprung version may move it closer to the Macan dynamically, but we doubt it will ever surpass it without AMG getting involved.

Even so, many of the same limitations we expressed when reviewing the X4 are relevant again here. Then, we said an X3 is just as good to drive but with more space, and the same rings true here. If you can live with that, great - but we'd still say the cheaper, more practical and hardly ugly GLC remains the better buy. 

Mercedes-Benz GLC 350 d Coupé AMG Line

Location Italy; On sale October; Price tbc (£48,000 est); Engine 6cyl, 2987cc, turbo, diesel; Power 255bhp; Torque 457lb ft; Gearbox 9-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1915kg; 0-62mph 6.2sec; Top speed 148mph; Economy 47.1mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 155g/km, 31%

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NeufNeuf 8 July 2016

Most cars have fake leather

Most peeps don't realise that if they scrutinise the brochure of their new car carefully, that it usually says "Real leather seat facings". On most every car for many decades now (bar a full fat Roller or Bentley perhaps) the sides and backs of your lovely leather seats have always been plastic - or artificial leather for those so inclined. Did you notice? Probably not. Does it look or feel different? Nope.

I've driven many warm summer miles on full MB-Tex/Artico/Whatever in a C-class rental car I had in Cape Town and without telling my passengers, not a single one knew until I told them that they were sitting on "plastic".

But back to the car at hand. I like the interior very much but suspect I'd also opt for the normal GLC over this one. Not that I'd EVER really use that wedge of extra triangular space it gives me. But you never know.

madmac 7 July 2016

To quote Walter Matthau in

To quote Walter Matthau in "Grumpier old Men" , "Genuine Imitation Leather"
Scratch 6 July 2016

4 door coupe - trends

Should not forget there was the Rover P5B 3 litre coupe. This bulky beast had four doors and a lowered roofline, thinner pillars. That was 1962. Way ahead of the current trend. And it had contrasting roof colour. With a few tweaks, such a car would not look out of place in the current world.