It might just look like a styling study of what would be a rather niche product even were it a production model, but the behind the bright lights laid on for the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe out here in Shanghai on Sunday evening lies a critical car for Mercedes in general and its prospects in the UK in particular.

The significance of the car is not its coupe styling that when it goes into production next year (as it most certainly will), will provide MB with a direct rival to the BMW X4. It is that from the A-pillars forward it will prove hard to distinguish from the standard GLC SUV that arrives this summer.

New York update: The Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé officially revealed in the Big Apple

I know it sounds like an organisation once run by Ken Livingstone from the South Bank, but if you follow Mercedes’ new naming strategy, which is not as infernally complicated as first you might see, you’d discover that this SUV (which is the GL bit) is based on the C-class platform.

That in turn makes it a rival for the BMW X3 and Audi Q5; and as you may have noticed, that’s a market notable for Mercedes’ absence over the years.

Actually, Mercedes has had a car in this category for years, but for reasons perhaps best left in the mists of time, the UK elected not to take the GLK when it first came out in 2008.