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You could be pragmatic and buy the standard wagon version of the Mercedes-Benz GLC, or you could be a little bit more playful, a bit more risqué, and a bit more sporty by choosing the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe.
If you were to choose a swoopy-roofed GLC Coupe, this GLC250 version would be the only model you could choose if you wanted a standard (read: non-AMG) petrol version, and it’s also the mid-point of the non-AMG GLC Coupe range, priced at $80,100 plus on-road costs.
You may not be able to tell it from its diesel-engined siblings with the GLC220d (from $77,100) and the GLC250d (from $82,100) offering near identical styling, including 20-inch multi-spoke AMG wheels and the AMG Line sports styling pack. It’s a sharp looking thing, no doubt, but we don’t think those side-steps are entirely useful; it really isn't that big of a step up into the cabin. Still, they look sharp.
It comes pretty well kitted out for the cash, too, with keyless entry and push-button start, leather seat trim, 'sports' seats with quilting, LED headlights with auto high-beam, an electric tailgate, active parking assistance and black ash open pore wood trim inside.
There’s a 7.0-inch colour media screen as standard, but our car had the Mercedes-Benz COMAND optional pack, which sees screen size jump to an 8.0-inch display, includes hard-disk drive navigation (not the Garmin maps of the base model), as well as voice control, internet capability and a 13-speaker Burmester stereo system with surround sound. Bluetooth phone and audio streaming is standard, but there’s no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Our car also had the Vision package, with a sunroof and head-up display.
Unlike the base model diesel, the GLC250 Coupe gets the Driver Assistance Plus pack, including adaptive cruise control with steering assist, rear cross-traffic alert, active lane keeping assistance, active blind-spot assistance and autonomous braking with pedestrian detection. There are nine airbags fitted (dual front, front side, rear side, curtain and driver’s knee), and it has a surround-view camera system, driver drowsiness monitoring and front and rear parking sensors, all of which is standard kit across the range.
And all GLC250 models also have adaptive body control, meaning the suspension will be tightened or loosened to fit with the drive mode selected – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual.
We spent the majority of our time in the GLC250 Coupe with the suspension set to Sport mode, because we found it offered better composure and body control over bumps than the Comfort setting, mainly because of its large 20-inch rims with run-flat tyres (it also has tyre pressure monitoring).
In Comfort mode the suspension can cause the body of the car to wallow over bumps, with some boaty lateral body movement and the rear can take a little while to settle after a bump, too. In Sport mode things are a lot more controlled, and despite the fact the car can still thump into sharp-edged bumps around town, it doesn’t get jelly legs over off-set lumps.
Of course, using the Individual mode you can make the suspension sporty and the rest of the car a ;item more benign: Comfort steering, Sport+ drivetrain and Sport suspension, for instance, could be the combo for you.
If you choose Sport+ for the drivetrain you’ll be able to get the most out of the GLC250 Coupe, which is powered by a familiar 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 155kW of power and 350Nm of torque, with a nine-speed automatic gearbox transferring power to all four wheels.
It’s an engine that is happy to rev and hold gears in Sport mode – you even get throttle blips, albeit without the pop and crackle theatre you might want – where the Comfort setting will see the drivetrain aim for better efficiency, thus also meaning that the gearbox will grab the highest gear possible in most situations, and it can mean that it feels like its hunting for a gear quite often. It’s a rewarding enough engine, but perhaps not as sporty as the swoopy body may lead you to believe.
Mercedes-Benz claims fuel use of 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres, and on test we saw a bit higher than that – 9.1L/100km across a range of different driving disciplines.
In all situations and settings, the steering is accurate and direct enough to ensure driver confidence and there’s some nice heft to it too at higher speeds, but it’s not the most involving thing to drive – there’s not a lot of feel through the wheel when you’re pushing it hard, but at least it’s easy to twirl the wheel when you’re trying to park.
That coupe-inspired roofline isn’t the greatest for driver’s seat vision when you are negotiating tighter spots – over-shoulder glances are almost redundant, while the letterbox-like slot of a rear window means you can’t see much through the rear-view mirror, either. The surround view system and sensors help at low speeds, and the blind-spot system helps on the on highway, too.
The roofline may lead you to think that rear-seat space is heavily compromised, but that’s not the case.
It’s fine for headroom and knee-room, while toe-room is also fine but the transmission tunnel is large, eating into space if you try and fit three across the back, while the swooping window-line makes it feel a bit cocoon-like inside: some drivers even said they'd prefer to drive with sunroof shade open for more open airy feel, and others complained that the slatted cover for the sunroof can see light seep through, causing distraction in tunnels.
Up front it can feel a little hemmed in, but the comfort and convenience on offer is typical Mercedes-Benz – there’s smart storage in the doors and the centre console, and the Benz media system, although not our favourite unit, is easy enough to learn. Unlike newer versions of the system, the one fitted to the GLC doesn’t have Apple CarPlay or Android Auto extended connectivity, but the Bluetooth system is easy to hook up to and reconnects quickly. Unlike the base model diesel, this version gets Benz’s in-house map system, which has pretty ancient graphics compared to the high-resolution menus.
Now, that roofline means you get 500 litres of cargo area – which is 50L fewer than the GLC wagon – and it’s quite a long, shallow area under the cargo blind. The boot floor is lockable and hides a large area for hiding contraband, or an optional space-saver tyre. Otherwise there’s a tyre repair kit.
If you choose to drop the 40:20:40 folding rear seats using the neat electric toggles in the rear seat area or the boot, there’s 1400L of luggage space, which is 200L fewer than the wagon.
Mercedes-Benz offers a pre-purchase maintenance plan for its cars, with deals ranging from two years/50,000km up to five years/125,000km. The company has a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, and it’s the same period of cover for the car’s roadside assist plan.
On the whole, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC250 Coupe may not convince a die-hard SUV shopper in terms of practicality, but it certainly offers buyers who want to think outside the square (or back end) something different. And if you're after a swoopy-roofed Mercedes SUV, this one argues a stronger case than the bigger, dearer GLE Coupe, too.
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