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2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 Coupe First Drive

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 7/7/2016 Manufacturer, Angus MacKenzie
2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 Coupe First Drive

There are many things in this world that defy logic. Particle physics. Donald Trump's hair. SUVs that (sorta, kinda) look like coupes. Of the latter, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe is the newest addition to a burgeoning automotive subgenre that already includes BMW's X6 and X4, Porsche's Macan, and, within the next few years, vehicles from Range Rover, Audi, and Bentley, too. Oh, and before Disgusted from Dayton, Ohio, fires off yet another angry email complaining that coupes cannot have four doors, forget it: Language and meaning evolve, and four-door coupe is now a term that has entered the automotive lexicon. So we're sticking with it. OK?

The GLC Coupe is, of course, basically a rebodied version of the regular wagon-style GLC that launched in the U.S. earlier this year. Although 3.0 inches longer and 1.4 inches lower overall, it shares the same 113.1-inch wheelbase and the same front and rear track. It will be available in other markets with a 2.2-liter diesel engine and as a plug-in hybrid, but under the hood of the U.S.-spec GLC300 Coupe is the same turbocharged inline-four engine with 241 hp at 5,500 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque from 1,300 rpm to 4,000 rpm, driving through the same smooth nine-speed automatic transmission, as in the GLC300 sold stateside.

The GLC300 Coupe also shares the same basic front clip as the GLC300, though it gets a sportier single-bar grille and a slightly more aggressive front splitter. From the base of the A-pillar back, however, the sheetmetal is unique. The windshield is more steeply raked to blend in with the lower roof, and new door skins deliver a higher beltline. New rear quarter panels meld with the steeply raked C-pillars, and the rear hatch incorporates a hint of a bustle and a small lip spoiler before dropping down to the new rear bumper. There is no rear window wiper: Mercedes-Benz claims the laminar airflow streaming over the roof does not break away from the car until it hits the lip spoiler, effectively blowing water off the glass.

2017 Mercedes Benz GLC300 Coupe front three quarter in motion 05© Provided by MotorTrend 2017 Mercedes Benz GLC300 Coupe front three quarter in motion 05

It's difficult to make something as tall and bulky as an SUV look as svelte and sexy as a low-slung coupe. The GLC Coupe carries the idea off with much more lan than its larger sibling, the GLE Coupe, though from some angles it still looks slightly bloated and overblown. It's nowhere as lean and muscled as a Porsche Macan. That the coupe design compromises load-carrying capacity is a given: Three or four smallish soft bags are about all you'll get in the load area if you want to keep your luggage hidden out of sight under the cargo blind. As U.S.-spec cars will have run-flat tires, there's also additional space under the load area floor, but again, it's really only for soft bags. If you need to carry lots of stuff, buy the GLC.

Design apart, the only other differences between the GLC and GLC Coupe are minor tweaks to suspension and steering calibrations to give the sportier-looking of the two a slightly sportier demeanor on the road. The steering ratio has been quickened, going from 16.1:1 to 15.1:1. Both the steel spring/adjustable shock suspension, called Dynamic Body Control in Benz-speak, and the optional Air Body Control air-suspension system, feature slightly stiffer damper rates to tighten up roll rates and body motions. In Sport and Sport+ modes the air springs will drop the GLC Coupe 0.6 inch lower to the tarmac.

Mercedes-Benz says the GLC Coupe is "the sports car among the midsize SUVs," which suggests the marketing folks haven't driven either the Porsche Macan or the new Jaguar F-Pace. The GLC300 Coupe is a smidge more nimble, a touch more buttoned-down, than the regular GLC300, but it is no sports car. The chassis doesn't disappoint, but it doesn't excite, either. It's just quietly competent. The GLC300 Coupe steers better and rides better than BMW's X4.

Switch to Sport+ mode, and use the steering wheel-mounted paddles to run up and down the nine-speed transmission, and the GLC300 Coupe will hustle along a winding two-lane at a brisk clip, the 2.0-liter turbo-four barking crisply in the background. Push hard, though, and it's the front end that cries uncle first, the nose running wide until you get off the gas. Dynamically, it's pretty one-dimensional.

And, in truth, most GLC300 Coupe buyers won't care. This car is all about image, not practicality or performance. Expected on sale in the U.S. late this year or early 2017, the GLC300 Coupe will do its best work not on the Nrburgring Nordschleife but idling up to valet parking stands in the suburbs of Los Angeles, New York, and Miami.

Fast Company: AMG versions of the GLC Coupe are coming

Nothing official yet, of course, but you can bet on AMG versions of the new Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe appearing in the near future. No crystal ball, no highly placed mole is needed to figure this out. You can set your IWC watch by the ordered cadence of launches from Affalterbach: Mercedes releases a new vehicle, and AMG versions subsequently appear. What started out almost 50 years ago as an independent Benz tuning shop is now big business for the three-pointed star, especially in America. Roughly half the AMG cars built are sold in the U.S. If the greater Los Angeles area were a country, it would be AMG's eighth largest market.

An AMG GLC43 was shown at the New York show, so an AMG GLC43 Coupe is an absolute no-brainer. The 43 series vehicles are AMG's new midlevel performance range, powered by twin-turbo, 362-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 engines. The 43s also run the new Daimler nine-speed automatic transmission, though shift speeds are quickened 50 percent and use the best suspension available on each model as the baseline setup.

So the AMG GLC43 Coupe will get Air Body Control, retuned to give firmer, sportier ride and handling. As per standard setup with all 43s, the all-wheel-drive system will be recalibrated to increase the maximum rear torque bias from 55 percent to 69 percent. The Sport and Sport+ settings will be more aggressively calibrated, and a different exhaust fitted.

Spy shots of what appear to be an AMG GLC63 Coupe are already doing the rounds. The twin-turbo, 4.0-liter V-8, which can deliver from 500 hp to more than 600 hp, depending on the 63 series AMG car it powers, fits under the hood. The GLC Coupe is built on the same MRA architecture as the C-Class sedan, coupe, and wagon; the front structure is essentially identical.

As with all 63 series vehicles, the AMG GLC63 will feature reworked suspension all round, particularly at the front, and the engine will drive through AMG's seven-speed MCT transmission. Expect big wheels and tires, optional carbon-ceramic brakes, and, of course, a thundering exhaust.

2017 Mercedes Benz GLC300 Coupe front three quarter in motion 02© Provided by MotorTrend 2017 Mercedes Benz GLC300 Coupe front three quarter in motion 02
2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 Coupe
BASE PRICE $40,950
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 4-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE 2.0L/241-hp/273-lb/ft DOHC 16-valve I-4
TRANSMISSION 9-speed auto
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 3,950lb (mfr)
WHEELBASE 113.1 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 186.3 x 74.4 x 63.1 in
0-60 MPH 6.4 sec (MT est)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON N/A
ENERGY CONSUMPTION N/A
ON SALE IN U.S. Late 2016/early 2017

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