2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic Coupe First Drive
Let’s put logic aside for a moment. Anyone attracted to the shape of a fastback crossover like this GLC Coupe is thinking with their heart, not referencing a spec sheet.Mercedes charges more for less here, with the GLC Coupe trading a little rear headroom and a lot of cargo space for its pretty roofline. When you put it like that, the GLC Coupe doesn’t make sense.
But it doesn’t have to. You might not be a proponent of the body style, and we get that. But it exists, we drove the latest entry, and, to be honest, it’s charming. For someone who tracks most aspects of his life in spreadsheets, that’s a tough thing to admit.
So how’d we get here? The industry has the BMW X6 to thank for the trend; that oddly satisfying duck, basically an angry X5 coupe, was followed by the smaller X4 a few years later, and Mercedes couldn’t ignore the sales numbers. Benz entered the ring with its GLE Coupe this year and is applying the less space/more style formula to its midsize crossover for 2017. In GLC300 trim, it will come with standard 4Matic all-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter turbo four and is aimed at the X4 xDrive28i. There is no rear-drive variant as found on the non-coupe GLC300 crossover. A GLC43 AMG Coupe will launch alongside the fastback GLC300 by early 2017, and we’re told that rumors of a future GLC63 AMG are to be believed. So, not rumors anymore,
Although it ruins the sexy and stylish illusion a bit, the stock steel-spring suspension in the US will sit slightly higher than the same setup on European-market cars. We drove only GLC300s with optional Dynamic Body Control – steel springs with adjustable dampers – and there is also an Air Body Control suspension that will be available; both of the adjustable suspensions should have the same ride-height settings as their European counterparts, meaning if you pay a little extra the proper look is maintained.
Not that it has to, but the Coupe drives differently compared to the Box. This isn’t a result of its altered shape, but because the engineers went out of their way to put space between the two dynamically. Both the Coupe and Box sit on a version of the latest C-Class platform; the Coupe has been tuned, and physics helps it, to feel somewhere between a C sedan and that other GLC. Just about everything in the chassis gets breathed on in some way; the steering is quicker, at 15:1 instead of 16:1 on the Box. The Coupe has bigger stabilizer bars front and rear, its suspension bushings are stiffer, and the programming (but not the parts) for the available adaptive dampers and air springs makes things a little stiffer, because that’s sporty. And coupes, as we’ve said, are sporty.
If you’ve gotten this far in the review, you’re probably looking for a verdict. Paradoxically, that means the GLC Coupe isn’t right for you – buyers choosing on style are unconcerned with the facts and figures, remember? If you’re approaching this with anything bordering on logic, the GLC Box is the car for you instead, or maybe just a nice C-Class sedan, perhaps with 4Matic all-wheel drive if you really feel the need. We won’t even attempt to try and sway you from an X4 if that’s the one you want, because the decision must be based on looks. (The Mercedes is more comfortably tuned, able to tighten up when you want it to, whereas the BMW is more knife-edged all the time. And the Merc is simply more modern, plus it’s pretty inside.)
We’ve established that crossover coupes are not the sensible choice. Coupe versions of perfectly nice sedans wouldn’t exist if everyone was thinking on practicality alone, so why should it be any different with crossovers? You buy a funny-shaped car because you like its funny shape, and this is one genre-bender we can endorse. Take that, logic.