A sloping roofline, unique looks and less cargo - is it a good tradeoff?

Mercedes sells the GLC Coupe for those who want a tall driving position and the apparent feeling of safety provided by SUVs, but the look of a rakish coupe and a driving experience that has to be accomplished, sporty, and fun. It’s, therefore, a vehicle that has to do quite a lot, and it actually succeeds in most of those areas... for the most part.

It has a very distinctive and unique look, much more so than the regular two-box GLC crossover. Its roofline dips towards the rear and its rear haunches are also widened over the regular GLC to give it a more butch appearance. And they do, creating a vehicle that looks very aggressive from pretty much any angle. I think it also looks better from the back than its main rival from BMW, although with some minor changes it could have won this contest hands down - right now it’s not miles ahead, but still more pleasing to behold in my book.

Out on the road, the GLC Coupe feels stiffer and more planted than the regular GLC and while it’s not the last word in sporty SUV handling, it’s very surefooted, it doesn’t lean into corners too much and its steering is refreshingly precise and undramatic. There is no vagueness when it comes to the way it handles, and my tester, even if it was powered by a diesel engine, had enough shove to nicely round out the sporty first impression it successfully makes.

Exterior

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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The GLC Coupe’s dramatic sloping roofline is what draws most attention during a complete walk-around of the vehicle. It works with the whole design and, just like in the case of the BMW X4, it emphasizes the width of the rear end and makes it look more squat and planted. It totally transforms the look (and especially the feel) of the vehicle compared to a regular GLC and, while this look may not be to everybody’s taste, it will certainly get you noticed, even if you happened to park in a parking lot full of regular GLCs and other Mercedes SUVs.

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The front end is identical to that of the GLC, but you really don’t mind it, especially if your example has the AMG front bumper like my tester did.

I especially like the way the hood looks too, with its bold creases and bulging aesthetic - it makes the car look like it packs a punch, even if it’s only a four-cylinder and it’s not V8-fast.

And my tester is the pre-facelift GLC Coupe, yet I think it really has aged well, and while the revised, refreshed model certainly makes it look even more modern, this example still looks contemporary from the front, with the pre-facelift headlights. In fact, it’s probably a bit more subtle and restrained compared to the facelifted model, so even if it may be quite an obvious vehicle, it is less obvious than the refreshed model that replaces.

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Its side profile owes everything to the original BMW X6, the vehicle that started this whole body style craze and inspired all similar models that followed.

Mercedes hasn’t strayed far from the original formula at all, although this vehicle somehow looks more tapered towards the rear than its BMW equivalent. My black tester looked especially good with the dark tinted rear glass that gives the vehicle a distinctive and quite menacing look; front windows are tinted too, although obviously not to the same degree as the rears.

The ride height is nearly identical to that of the standard GLC, but observe the GLC Coupe from the side, and it immediately looks like a sportier vehicle that is more apt at being chucked into corners. And it really does have a fast cornering-enhancing lower center of gravity brought about by the lower roof - the regular GLC is 1,639 mm / 64.5 inches tall, while the GLC Coupe is 1,602 mm / 63.1 inches tall.

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic exterior dimensions
Length: 4732 mm / 186.3 in
Width: 1890 mm / 74.4 in
Height: 1602 mm / 63.1 in
Wheelbase: 2873 mm / 113.1 in

However, no other angle matches the visual impact of viewing the GLC Coupe from its rear three-quarter view. If you weren’t sure whether you liked it or not, then approaching the car from this angle might change your mind because it all comes together. You get why it’s slightly more expensive and you understand that you have to sacrifice a bit of practicality because you get a rear end that is as dramatic as that.

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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Again, the look itself may not visually please everybody, yet the people who are going to appreciate it, are probably going really love it.

However, there are two details in the back that I am not so keen on: the blatant, pointless fake exhaust tips and the chrome strips running along the upper part of the rear light clusters. Fake exhausts are nothing new for Mercedes (although it’s now starting to rid its new cars of them) and you can have a different bumper that either gives you real tips or doesn’t have any fake ones protruding through. The chrome strip, on the other hand, you can only have in this chrome finish and on my all-black tester, they frankly looked a bit out of place.

Aside from this, there is little to objectively pick faults with regarding the exterior aesthetic of the GLC Coupe and it’s a car the more you look at, the more of its design depth it reveals. It’s actually a considerably more sculptural and carefully designed car than would first meet the eye and you have to spend time with it to see all of its subtle shapes.

Interior

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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Despite being a few years old now, the GLC Coupe’s interior is still the most luxurious feeling out of all premium crossovers its size.

Sure, it’s practically lifted straight from the C-Class sedan with minimal alterations, but aside from calling it derivative, there is nothing to complain about regarding it.

Its interior gives off a more cozy appeal and feels more cosseting than its rivals. This has to do with the fact that there are no straight lines that define its design. Wherever you look inside the GLC’s cabin, it’s all swoops and curves and pleasant blending of different materials.

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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The steering wheel of my AMG Pack tester was also very pleasant and enjoyable to use. It not only has a sporty flat bottom, but the leather in which it’s clad is a tactile delight. For the grip part of the wheel rim, it has perforated leather which further adds to the sporty feel.

This isn’t the new model of steering wheel now fitted to the GLC Coupe facelift that’s just being rolled out, but it’s still good even in this context.

Move to the center console that appears to jut upward out of the transmission tunnel and almost looks like it’s floating from certain angles and you notice there aren’t really that many buttons. There’s one bar of buttons below the air vents through which you can adjust climate functions and below that there’s a bar of infotainment menu shortcut buttons that also houses the button for the hazard lights.

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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These shortcut buttons for the infotainment aren’t close to the actual control for the infotainment, located close to the center armrest, on the transmission tunnel. This isn’t the best choice from an ergonomics standpoint as you have to move your hand to two different places in order to operate the infotainment. Most manufacturers put the shortcut buttons right around the infotainment controls, thus making navigation through the menus easier and safer.

What will remain very good is the Mercedes column selector for the automatic gearbox. It’s just something you get used to driving a newer Mercedes and once you’re out of it, you’ll already have formed the muscle memory to use that stalk for gears and you’ll inadvertently turn on the wipers by doing so...

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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Seating comfort for front occupants is unparalleled in the segment.

Even with the sportier AMG pack seats fitted to my tester, it’s still more comfortable than any BMW X3 or X4 that I have driven, especially on longer journeys when you don’t feel any lower back strain as I do in some cars from Bavaria. In the GLC Coupe, covering hundreds of miles in a single go is really no problem thanks to its excellent seats and spot on driving position (that offers a lot of adjustment, so drivers of wildly varying sizes will get comfy quickly).

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic interior dimensions
Shoulder room front/rear 57.3/56.5 inches
Head room front/rear 38.9/38.3 inches
Hip room front/rear 59.0/58.1 inches
Cargo room seats up 500 l (17.7 cu ft)
Cargo room seats down 1400 l (49.4 cu ft)

Comfort in the back is also surprisingly good, with sufficient knee and shoulder room. Headroom is obviously encroached upon by the dipping roof, but a six-footer like me can still sit in the rear without having to resort to slouching in order to not hit the headliner.

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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Materials in the GLC Coupe are really top notch on most surfaces.

The places you touch often are really plush feeling, but there are plastics lower down that are quite scratchy and not very pleasant to look at. The same goes for the rear part of the center console that extends all the way to the rear. The plastic housing around the rear air vents feels dreadfully cheap - that is the worst bit of plastic in the entire car and while it doesn’t ruin the high quality ambiance, it certainly affects it negatively.

The GLC Coupe only loses some 50 liters of load volume in the trunk over the regular GLC. Its total carrying capacity drops from 550 liters to 500 liters. Compared to its main rival, the BMW X4, it is 25 liters down on its 525 liters claimed capacity.

Drivetrain

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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My GLC 250d 4Matic tester was powered by an engine that Mercedes is now phasing out, the latest and greatest development of its (nearly) 2.2-liter four-cylinder diesel. In the 250d it makes 204 horsepower and 500 Nm / 368 pound-feet and sends its power to the wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The engine itself is a peach, one of the nicest small four-cylinder diesel mills you’ll ever get to drive in any car.

In this particular power output, it has a twin-turbo setup which enables it to offer plenty of low-down grunt but also keep accelerating fluidly all the way up to the red line. The GLC Coupe 250d with all-wheel-drive is not a light car, though, tipping the scales at 1,845 kilograms / 4,067 pounds, so even with the peppy engine, it’s not the fastest thing in the world.

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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No vibration from the engine is ever felt in the cabin, even in instances when it is being worked hard and you do hear it thrum away. But there is never any diesel clatter that makes its way into the cabin, even when the engine is started up cold, although it is obviously quieter once it gets up to temperature.

It still sprints to 100 km/h or 62 mph in a claimed (and thoroughly believable from the driver’s seat) 7.6 seconds, a respectable time.

Top speed is 222 km/h / 137 mph and it’s identical to what Mercedes claims for the regular non-Coupe GLC model. Interestingly, official Mercedes spec sheets indicate that the GLC and the GLC Coupe weigh exactly the same and have exactly the same performance and efficiency numbers.

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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4Matic all-wheel drive is part of the package too and it turns the GLC Coupe into a very grippy machine that exudes a lot of confidence, even though you really wouldn’t want to take this car off-road. It’s not that it couldn’t tackle some rough stuff, but it’s not the car you’d want to take off-road. It doesn’t necessarily have sufficient ground clearance, and you wouldn’t want to get its pretty sheet metal scuffed or scratched, now would you?

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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The superb nine-speed automatic gearbox deserves a shout out too.

This transmission is almost unbelievable in the way it changes its character based on the selected driving mode. In ‘Comfort’, you hardly feel it’s doing any kind of cog swapping - you see the revs drop but you don’t really feel it. Move it to ‘Sport+’ and it will become a completely different type of gearbox - every gear change is accompanied by a noticeable jolt that enthusiastic drivers like myself will really appreciate. And it not only slams through gears more noticeably, but it does so faster too, almost as quick as a dual-clutch - in fact, you could probably fool some people that this is a double-clutch simply through the upped ferocity of shifting in ’Sport+’.

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic drivetrain specifications
Cylinders 4
Cylinder Layout In-Line
Number of Valves 16
Camshaft DOHC
Drive train Four Wheel Drive
Fuel delivery Turbo
Horsepower 204 HP @ 5,500 RPM
Torque 368 LB-FT
Top speed 137 mph
0–62 mph 7.30 seconds

Driving Impressions

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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This is where for me cars like the GLC Coupe fall a bit short. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, wrong with the way it drives, steers and stops. It is as competent as it gets in this segment of the market. Its steering has precision, body lean is well controlled through the corners and the brakes don’t look like anything special, yet they seem to do a very good job of stopping this nearly 2-ton coupe SUV.

Push the GLC Coupe hard into a corner, though, and it will start to wash wide quite quickly.

Once the limit of grip is achieved, the car only wants to understeer and you can’t really bring the tail out with extra throttle, because the traction and stability systems will intervene because they think you’re about to crash. Unlike the BMX X4, which is considerably more tail happy, the GLC Coupe feels very grippy until it lets go, and when it lets go, all you can do is wait for the electronics to stop you understeering and for grip to be reestablished.

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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Even if you turn the electronic nannies off, they will reactivate themselves automatically soon after and you really can’t throw this car around and have fun in it like you can in its BMW rival.

The chassis has plenty of grip and if the electronics were calibrated in a more fun way, the GLC Coupe would be a much more enjoyable twisty road companion.

But I guess this car is more for straight line blasting and generally just swift cruising. It isn’t bad to drive (quite the contrary, actually), but it is not the most fun vehicle in its size and price bracket and driving quickly is frustrating in a way because you feel it being pegged back by the extra cautious electronics that make the car feel as if it’s been designed for an 80-year-old that’s about to suffer a stroke while at the wheel. Shame that Mercedes willingly makes its cars less fun through overly cautious safety systems that cannot even be turned off, even though there is a button in the car specifically for it.

Prices

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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In Europe, the GLC Coupe kicks off at just over €50,000, while in the U.S., the base price for one is $47,300, although the entry-level versions vary from market to market.

My tester had the more desirable and more powerful of the two four-cylinder diesel options, it had the AMG exterior and interior pack that helps lift the look of the car and some optional extras that pushed the price past €60,000. But for people who want a coupe SUV-type vehicle and don’t want to buy the BMW X4, then this is definitely a worthy alternative, a car that is actually better than the X4 in many ways.

Competition

BMW X4

2019 BMW X4 Exterior Wallpaper quality
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and a speed-sensitive steering system

The Mercedes GLC Coupe has one main and very serious rival: the BMW X4. In fact, the X4 is the only other vehicle like it in terms of size, style and price, so it needs to be measured against it. Firstly, the X4 feels a bit more cutting edge and modern compared to the GLC Coupe, even if we’re talking about the new facelifted version of the Mercedes. It just has a more youthful feel to it and it actually beats the Mercedes when it comes to being a fun-to-drive vehicle. It also has a wider choice of engines and its sportiest version is now a match for the AMG GLC63, so the GLC no longer has the power advantage over the X4.

However, the GLC still feels more luxurious and is generally more comfortable than the X4. It has better seats, more supple suspension and if you want to buy it in its most powerful guise, you can still get it wit a V-8 which you can’t have in any rival model.

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW X4

Range Rover Velar

2018 Land Rover Range Rover Velar High Resolution Exterior
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While the Range Rover Velar isn’t exactly the same as the GLC Coupe and X4, it is a direct rival for these models in terms of size and price and the fact that it is a lower, sleeker take on the familiar SUV formula. If you’ve ever seen one in person, you’ll know the Velar is a beautiful car - I am surprised myself that I am saying this about an SUV, not usually my cup of tea. It is even more elegant than the Mercedes on the outside, while on the inside it feels more luxurious than the Mercedes and even more technologically advanced than the X4 (even though it isn’t necessarily).

Its emphasis is on comfort, though, and it’s not really an SUV you want to throw into corners and carve canyons with. It is best served with the optional air suspension, a six-cylinder engine and as many of the bells and whistles as you can afford to get. If only Land Rover products had a better reliability record, then this car would shoot up in popularity.

Read our full review on the 2019 Range Rover Velar

Conclusion

2019 Mercedes GLC Coupe 250d 4Matic - driven
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Mercedes clearly made the GLC Coupe in an effort to snag some sales from BMW’s X4, now in its second generation. It seems to not only be one step behind BMW in this respect, but at the same time it has found no other way of trying to beat BMW’s X4 than to create an exact Mercedes mirror image of it.

With that being said, the GLC Coupe is a likable vehicle with plenty of plus points. It trumps the BMW X4 for comfort (both in terms of suspension and seating), it has a more relaxed nature than it and while it’s not exactly as sharp to drive, it’s not far off either. In fact, compared to the first-gen X4 that was phased out in 2018, the GLC Coupe actually handles better and feels sportier, so this in essence shows that BMW has moved the goal posts since it released the first X4.

The recent facelift has upped its feel of modernity with refreshed front and rear fascias, fully digital gauge cluster inside and an all-new and much better MBUX infotainment system. It really didn’t need much to be kept relevant in the current market context, so with the recent subtle makeover, I think the GLC Coupe will continue to attract buyers who want a more comfortable and stately alternative to the BMW X4.

Photography by Andrei Nedelea

  • Leave it
    • It’s not as sporty as a wagon with the same powertrain
    • You can’t turn off the electronic nannies to have fun in it
    • Pre-facelift model feels dated compared to more modern rivals
    • The fake exhaust tips on my tester’s bumper

Further Reading

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe Unveiled
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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe Unveiled

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
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Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class.

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