Winnipeg Free Press

An appealing, driver-oriented coupe

by Haney Louka . Sep 29 2017
Haney Louka / Winnipeg Free PressFrom its unique grille to its blacked-out greenhouse trim and aluminum pedals, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 has styling enhancements inside and out.

Haney Louka / Winnipeg Free Press

From its unique grille to its blacked-out greenhouse trim and aluminum pedals, the 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 has styling enhancements inside and out.

Mercedes-Benz began messing with the definition of a coupe back when the first-generation CLS made its debut in 2005. To me, it was a sleek four-door sedan. To the marketing machine at Mercedes-Benz, I was incorrect. It was a four-door coupe.

Fast-forward to 2017, and it’s not only the company’s sedans that have been coupe-ified, but also its sport-utility vehicles. This GLC Coupe is the company’s answer to the BMW X4, a similarly proportioned and priced entry from Germany.

And BMW, you may recall, started this vehicle type back in 2009 in the form of the larger and more expensive X6.

The purpose behind this jacked-up coupe concept is to provide a more emotional design to a traditionally utilitarian segment of the market. I get that. And if you like the way it looks, then the GLC Coupe is worth a look. If you don’t like the looks, well, Mercedes still sells the GLC in SUV form, and that would be the one for me.

The appeal of the GLC Coupe’s design needs to outweigh its drawbacks, which are significant. Visibility and cargo space are reduced drastically, as is rear-seat access and headroom. Plus, it’s pricier.

Regardless of which body style you prefer, the GLC and, in particular, this AMG version, is worthy of serious consideration. As the second-smallest crossover in the Benz lineup, it battles in the same crowded playground against other premium small crossovers like the BMW X3/X4, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60, Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Pace, Range Rover Evoque, and Lexus RX.

While pricing for the GLC line starts at $45,150, the muscled-up AMG 43 version starts at $59,900 for the SUV and $63,200 for the Coupe.

The AMG treatment, first and foremost, means enhanced performance. Here, the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-banger from the GLC 300 is replaced by a biturbo V-6 that churns out 362 angry horses, channelled through a nine-speed automatic transmission to a full-time all-wheel drive system.

But when you opt for an AMG, it’s not just an increase in the amount of power hitting the pavement that results.

It’s about personalizing your driving experience. All dynamic systems are tweaked to offer the driver more control over the vehicle’s reactions and demeanour on the road. The air suspension is self-levelling and adjustable through the console-mounted dynamic switch, which also affects throttle response and transmission shift characteristics.

Styling enhancements abound, inside and out, on the AMG. Blacked-out greenhouse trim, a unique grille, and quad exhaust tips give the AMG a quietly aggressive look. Inside, a unique instrument panel, steering wheel, and aluminum pedals differentiate the AMG.

Our tester was further enhanced with the AMG night package, intelligent drive package, premium package, and premium plus package. Intelligent drive is Mercedes’ semi-autonomous system, which detects all manner of features around the vehicle and is capable of steering and adjusting speed accordingly.

The premium pack adds 360-degree cameras, navigation, active parking assist, and illuminated door sills. The plus adds satellite radio, keyless start, heated rear seats, and a 115V power socket.

It’s a bit of a surprise to see that some of these features are optional in this snack bracket, especially considering that each option package costs thousands.

All goodies considered, our tester rang the register at $79,830 before destination and taxes.

The 43’s interior is a beautiful place. The central floating display, which seems to be all the rage with the Germans these days, allows interior designers more freedom to arrange the dash in more visually appealing ways. The Benz’s is defined by a wide centre console with three round vents and a generally uncluttered look, and any C-Class driver will be right at home here.

The shift selector is mounted old-school on the steering column. Mercedes says it’s there so drivers can shift between park, drive, and reverse while keeping both hands on the wheel. Not sure about that logic, but another benefit is that it opens up space on the centre console for additional storage, which is plentiful in the GLC. The downside, though, is that it puts the wiper control on the left side of the wheel, along with the cruise and wheel adjustment stalks. Three stalks are too many on one side of the column. Plus, I mistakenly activated the wipers several times in my subsequent press vehicle when intending to shift into gear.

Black sport leather upholstery and red stitching, plus carbon fibre trim round out the individual options that adorned our tester. Combined with the liberal use of aluminum accents throughout, these are some impressive furnishings.

The twin-turbo six is truly addictive in the thrust and sound departments, and the nine-speed automatic does a convincing dual-clutch impression: shift response is lightning-quick and rev blips are fun to induce with the flappy paddles at your fingertips.

I found only two driveability shortcomings during my week with this Benz: first, I couldn’t find a comfortable seating position during a three-hour highway trip. Surprising, I know. Second, as much as I like the transmission design in the AMG-enhanced GLC, there was just a little bit of low-speed jerkiness that seemed to result from an over-sensitive throttle and abrupt low-speed shifting.

With such a crowded field of entries in this class, Mercedes-AMG has presented us with a very appealing, driver-oriented package. And with the two available body styles, you get to choose between form and function.