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FIRST REVIEW: 2017 Mercedes GLC Coupe

There’s much to think about when buying a new car. From budget, to needs and emotions – all of these must fall into place in order to make the right choice. As most of you shop crossovers, some OEMs decided a few years back to increase their offering in the “truck” segment.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe

Much like cars, a CUV can be offered in a number of configurations. While the convertible iteration has not quite caught on, the “coupé” body style has, and very much so. The Germans are hard at work making a low-slung, slopping roof fastback style version of their most popular utes. The latest at Mercedes in the recently overhauled GLC, which earned the title of Best New Premium Utility Vehicle from the Automobile Journalist Association of Canada. I brief test of the GLC will quickly enlighten you.

Like the midsize GLE before it, the GLC looses in height, gains in length and wins the styling battle in the compact luxury coupe utility category. I, for one, don’t truly get the draw of a compromised crossover; I can certainly appreciate the fact that they are not only the present but also the future of car design.

Personal utility

The question begs to be asked: Why a coupé version of a perfectly good SUV? The answer is manifold but the bottom line is that consumers like them, and OEMs like Mercedes have the means and resources to build them despite the fact that represent no more than 20% of the sales of the nameplate.

The average buyer of the GLC Coupe are in their late 30s to early 50s, are married with no kids. This buyer group seeks out style over function, a more intimate and classy cabin but without setting aside taller sightlines, AWD and a decent trunk. On that topic, the Coupé gives up 50 litres (or 10%) in volume over the conventional GLC.

The cabin is essentially lifted out of the C-Class coupe and is right at home in this CUV. Luxury, fit and finish are impressive, regardless of trim. The 43 AMG gains AMG gauges, and superb sport seats complete with red topstitching. Everything else is identical.

There’s a lovely mix of elegance and functionality that is difficult to overlook. Only the touchpad and menu navigation proves to be somewhat of a chore but like the remote controls for the home entertainment system, we eventually get the hang of it.

As with all coupes of the type, getting in and out of the rear can be challenging, especially for anyone taller than Tom Cruise. Up front provides plenty of space, and most importantly, a snug comfortable feeling of control.

Technology-wise, the GLC has got every basis covered. Connectivity is second nature while safety features range from the optional and useful head-up display to collision prevention assist.

Personal power

The real sense of control comes from what lies beneath the sculpted bonnet. I’ve mentioned in the past but “basic” 4-cylinder engines are seldomly anything but. In fact, I preferred the 300’s turbocharged 2.0-litre to the twin-turbo’d 3.0-litre V6 from the 43 AMG.

The 300’s 241-horsepower and 273 lb.-ft. of torque are just about miraculous. The torque flows freely from 1,300 (yes, 1,300!) rpm all the way to 4,000 rpm. The 43’s on another level, but prowesses are expected and thus not as surprising as the 300’s. Like the 4-pot, torque is available at low rpm, 384 lbs. of it at 2,500 rpm in this case. All 362-horsepower are accounted for as well and bring the near 1,900 kg (4,180 lbs.) vehicle to 100 km/h in 4.9 seconds.

The standard and brilliant 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic transmission (the best of its kind) keeps the mills on spec at all times. Upshifts are crisp if not shockingly so in any of the two Sport driving modes and downshifts are equally authoritarian. Left on its own, it glides up and down gears with silky-smooth refinement.

The 4MATIC AWD system is tuned differently for each variant. The 300 is setup for a more leisurely 45/55 torque split for all-season use while the 43 keeps things dynamic with a 31/69 ratio. We were able to fleetingly experience their proficiency on mud-covered roads and no discernable flaws could be found. Under hard acceleration, the 43’s front axle efficiently pulled ahead while the rear never got out of hand.

The GLC Coupé’s steering and suspension are revised over the regular SUV version. They’re dialled up slightly but never in a manner that would be unbecoming of a Mercedes. The AMG’s air suspension, or air body control, permit the 43 to reach extremes, between serious body control and comfort.

The other Coupe

I don’t believe that the GLC Coupé will replace a C-Class Coupe in a garage anytime soon however the appeal, manageable size and utility of such a vehicle makes a purchasing a sedan like a missed opportunity.

The GLC Coupe is likeable on so many levels and the 300’s base price of just under $50k makes it even more tempting. If the 43 AMG’s performance tickles your fancy, you might want to wait a few months for the coming of the ballsy 63 AMG and its 503 horses.

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