New Car Previews

First Look: 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC Coupe

Coming soon to a Mercedes-Benz showroom near you, the 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC Coupe is perhaps not the kind of vehicle you would expect when you see the word “coupe”. First of all, coupes historically have two doors and this one has four (no longer so surprising, I grant you...) but most obviously it's essentially a “fastback” version of the GLC 300 SUV, the vehicle that replaced the angular GLK-Class SUV for 2016. Mercedes-Benz describes it as a Sport Utility Coupe.

So it's a bit more portly than the sleek 2+2 you may have in mind, but it still has appealing lines. While driving impressions of the Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe are currently embargoed, can give you the full details, and offer some general opinions based on our examination at the vehicle's introduction in Italy.

With a unique grille and specific rear-end design, the 2017 GLC 300 Coupe combines, as Mercedes-Benz accurately points out, elements of an SUV with a coupe profile, adding a dash of sporty handling and a performance orientation that distinguishes it from the GLC 300 SUV. It's not too big, not too small (GLC resides in size and price between the GLA and GLE) and emphasizes its sporty intentions by riding on standard 19-inch wheels and being 76 mm longer and 38 mm lower than the GLC 300 SUV.

It's also loaded with the latest safety, convenience and near-autonomous driving capabilities -- a veritable shopping list of them is now rolling out on all Mercedes-Benz vehicles -- which we'll get to below.

Under the hood of this rear-biased four-wheel-drive vehicle you'll find a 2.0 L (1,991 cc, actually) direct-injected, 16-valve turbo dual-overhead camshaft engine (DOHC) making 241 hp at 5,500 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque at a notably and desirably low 1,300–4,000 rpm. The engine is mated to a nine-speed “9G-TRONIC” automatic transmission. Premium fuel is specified.

Diesel fans will be pleased with the availability in the second quarter of 2017 of the GLC 300d Coupe (the GLC 300 Coupe arrives in October 2016). The 16V Turbo DOHC diesel engine displaces 2.1 L (2,143 cc) generating 200 hp at 3,800 rpm and a whopping 369 lb-ft torque between 1,600 and 1,800 rpm.

Another version, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 4MATIC Coupe, will be available in the first quarter of 2017. This is not a full AMG version but it will boast a range of AMG performance upgrades including a V6 biturbo engine making 362 hp and 384 lb-ft.

The nine-speed gearbox fitted to all GLC 300 Coupes features an ECO Start/Stop function and a Direct Select control on the steering column that permits the driver to change gears while keeping both hands on the wheel. “Park” is selected by pressing a button at the end of the gearshift stalk. The transmission now features “faster, smoother and more efficient gear changes,” according to Mercedes-Benz, and is said to be quieter in operation compared with earlier versions.

Standard on all models is a Dynamic Select driving feature that changes engine, transmission and steering characteristics to favour comfortable, sporty or efficient driving styles. If none of the Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+ profiles precisely suit, the system can be individually configured.

Also standard is Mercedes' COMAND Controller which is effectively a small touchpad with touch-sensitive keys (kind of a stationary mouse) that resides between the front seats. This is your Human Machine Interface (HMI), the device used in conjunction with the high-definition display to control the full array of GLC 300 Coupe features.

The distinctive and also standard high-performance headlamps use LED fibre-optic technology. All functions feature LED, including Daytime Running Lamps, projector low-beam and reflective high-beam – along with full LED tail lamps. An active (dynamic) headlamp package is optional. Also optional (as a standalone feature) is a high-resolution, colour, LED-backlit Head-Up Display (HUD). The HUD displays navigation, speed and cruise settings data in a 21 x 7 cm image that appears to float about two metres in front of the driver.

Mercedes-Benz says that the HUD's high-resolution, colour display is clearly legible even on a sunny day.

Additional standard features include electro-mechanical steering with Crosswind Assist, power folding exterior mirrors, automatic climate control, power and heated front seats, keyless start, rear-view camera, sunroof, power liftgate, Attention Assist (which alerts the driver if erratic driving behaviour is detected), Blind Spot Assist, rain-sensing windshield wipers and run-flat tires.

There are optional packages, as you would expect. One of several available is Intelligent Drive, a component of which is Distronic Plus with Steer Assist. Here's where we get pseudo-autonomous. While intelligent automatic cruise control is becoming more widely available (it will match your speed at a driver-selected distance to the vehicle ahead), this system adds lane guidance using information from a stereo-3D camera and radar sensors fitted around the vehicle. The so-called “Steer Assist” is designed to keep the vehicle in the middle of its lane even in corners (slight bends, to be precise). Slow, hands-off stop-and-go driving is possible in heavy traffic, says Mercedes-Benz, although if you take your hands off the wheel at speed, a warning is emitted after 30 seconds and Steer Control is deactivated.

Of course, there may also be laws in place that require drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel, but presumably this will change as such helping technologies evolve and proliferate. Distronic Plus with Steer Control operates at speeds between 0–200 km/h.

Intelligent Drive also features BAS Plus (Brake Assist Plus) with Cross-Traffic Assist that monitors vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians; emits warnings if a collision is imminent; and upon the driver applying the brakes, calculates the brake pressure required to avoid impact and automatically supplies it. If a collision cannot be avoided, the system activates full emergency braking.

Another element of Intelligent Drive, Pre-Safe Plus, is an occupant protection system that uses radar sensors in the rear bumper to detect an impending rear-end collision when your GLC 300 Coupe is stationary. It keeps the vehicle stationary if the driver's foot is on the brake pedal, initiates seatbelt tensioning and maintains brake pressure after impact to prevent the vehicle rolling forward (at an intersection, for example).

Intelligent Drive will also monitor vehicles and pedestrians ahead and provide visual and audible warnings when a risk of collision is determined. If the driver doesn't respond, the system can initiate full autonomous braking as required.

While being protected and chauffeured by the many features of Intelligent Drive, there are other packages and standalone options that can be specified, focusing more on comfort, entertainment, convenience and style.

The Premium Package MP1 adds Parktronic with Active Park Assist, online navigation, 360-degree camera and ambient lighting. You can supplement this with Premium Package Plus (MP2) that delivers satellite radio, garage door opener, heated rear seats, a 115-volt power outlet and hands-free (voice) activation (you can select MP2 without MP1). There's an Exterior and an Interior Sport Package (20-inch wheels, styling, cladding, performance exhaust, upholstery), and an AMG Night Package (special wheels and black accents).

Notable standalone options are the trunk pass-through with ski sack, heated steering wheel, the aforementioned head-up display, sport suspension, adjustable air suspension , trailer hitch, Burmester premium sound system and acoustic glass. Notably absent are ventilated front seats, although there are multiple interior trims that can be specified.

Following the recent makeover of the C-Class cars, the GLC 300 Coupe's interior is finished to a higher degree of luxury and a more distinctive level of appointment. Several interior upholstery options are available, including two-tone choices, and the entire cabin impresses with its superb fit and finish. Materials including carbon fibre and aluminum are fitted with a pleasing precision commensurate with this luxury marque's reputation.

While the exterior is indeed longer and lower than that of the GLC 300 SUV and does present a sportier profile because of its shape, it's also true that this is not a car. Consequently, it and other vehicles of this type look somewhat overweight to me as they mash the traditionally sleek coupe form with the typically utilitarian SUV massing. Nonetheless, this has turned out to be a popular variant among those looking for something different.

That said, while the GLC 300 Coupe's look and suspension setup is designed to provide a sportier on-road experience, cargo capacity and interior roominess do suffer. Luggage capacity in the GLC 300 SUV is 550–1,600 litres which drops to 500–1,400L in the Coupe. Front and rear seat headroom in the Coups is also reduced as the A-pillars are angled more severely than those in the SUV.

Ground clearance for the GLC 300 Coupe is 190 mm (same as the GLC 300 SUV), but with the optional Air Body Control (air suspension) the vehicle will lower by 15 mm at speed, raise by 15mm on poor surfaces and will drop by 40 mm at the rear to assist loading and unloading when stationary. Furthermore, the air suspension is integrated into the Dynamic Select sport options and provides a constant vehicle level irrespective of load due to its self-levelling characteristics.

Pricing for the GLC 300 Coupe is not yet released. One suspects is will be slightly higher than the GLC 300 SUV which starts at $44,950 and can easily be optioned to $60,000, but we'll have to wait until later this year to find out. In two to three years we should see a plug-in hybrid version, and look, too, for an off-road package that may be offered sooner. Towing capacity, by the way, is 1,588 kg (3,500 lb) in North America, whereas the same vehicle is rated at a significantly higher 2,400 kg in Europe. Still, 3,500 lb is competitive for a vehicle in this class.

While I can't say the GLC 300 Coupe is beautiful, it is pleasing for a vehicle of this type, and features rich exterior finishes that flatter its lines. The interior happily recalls higher-level Mercedes-Benz vehicles; all C-Classes recently receiving a generous makeover that impresses with its quality, fit and finish.

Take a look at these interiors and there's no doubt you're looking at luxury. But what a huge Mercedes badge in the grille. Likely the radar is behind it, but there's also no doubt about the brand when other motorists look in their rear-view mirror!