What Car? says...
They say style doesn’t come without compromise, and the Mercedes GLC Coupé is a prime example of that. You see, it’s one of the increasing number of SUVs that sacrifice a bit of practicality for sleeker looks, swapping out a squared-off tail that prioritises head room and boot space for a sloping roofline.
To ensure there’s more to this coupé SUV than just style, Mercedes offers it with a number of engine choices, including two diesels with power ranging from 194bhp to 254bhp, and a petrol, which also puts 254bhp at the mercy of your right foot.
If you want maximum power, there’s also the brawny Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 Coupé which has a big V8 petrol engine (and its own separate review).
So, should you buy a Mercedes GLC Coupé over all those rivals? Read on over the next few pages of this review to find out everything you need to know, including how we rate the performance, handling and practicality, and which engine and trim choices we think make the most sense.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The GLC Coupé’s engine range has some options in common with the Mercedes GLC including the entry-level choice, the 220d – a 2.0-litre diesel with 194bhp. It whisks you up to motorway speeds without fuss and there’s plenty of low-end shove so you don’t have to work it particularly hard. A punchier 254bhp version badged 300d is available too, but we don’t think it’s worth the extra cost.
We suspect the petrol engines will be of more interest to UK buyers. The 300 has 254bhp and matches the 300d's 0-62mph time, but it needs working harder than the diesel when you need urgent acceleration.
Regardless of engine, you get a nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard, and when you’re driving along normally, it changes gear with near imperceptible smoothness. It’s not perfect, though, and has a tendency to hesitate for ages as you pull away from a junction or when you need a sudden burst of power.
Refinement wise, the 220d is smooth when accelerating and virtually inaudible at a motorway cruise, although the Q5 Sportback 40 TDI is even quieter. The 300 is more hushed at low speeds, but becomes quite vocal when worked hard, with a constant whistling from the turbocharger.
Like the regular GLC, you get a variable steering set-up, but it's been made slightly quicker to give a sportier feel. It’s quite precise, but gains weight in a slightly uneven way, feeling light just off centre before suddenly getting heavier. The Porsche Macan better communicates what the front tyres are up to. Grip levels are decent, but the GLC never feels as agile as the BMW X4.
Every Coupé comes with sports suspension, and even on relatively small 19in wheels, it’s rather firm, picking up on road imperfections all too readily and thumping through potholes. It rarely makes you wince, but the Range Rover Velar is comfier, while an X4 with optional adaptive suspension rides and handles better.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The GLC Coupé – like the regular Mercedes GLC – gives the driver good forward visibility and generous steering wheel and electric seat adjustability, including electric lumbar adjustment. Bizarrely, fore and aft seat adjustment is manual unless you jump up to AMG Line Premium Plus trim.
Unlike forward visibility, rear visibility is pretty rubbish, owing to the tiny rear window made necessary by the sloping roof. You can’t see anything when you look back there, so it’s a good job you get a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors as standard. To aid vision at night, bright LED headlights are included on all versions.
Two large digital screens dominate the interior – a crisp 12.3in driver’s display and a portrait-oriented 11.9in central infotainment screen. Top-spec AMG Line Premium Plus trim adds a head-up display which offers a range of layouts and shows you loads of information clearly.
The central screen can be operated by touch or with the fiddly touch-sensitive buttons on the steering wheel. It’s mounted high up on the dashboard and responds to your inputs pretty quickly, but we prefer the iDrive system in the BMW X4 which comes with a physical rotary controller.
On first inspection, the GLC Coupé’s dashboard looks very swanky, easily outshining its rivals for showroom appeal, and even the entry-level versions come with metal-effect trims, open pore wood and loads of ambient lighting. However, it doesn’t take too many prods and pokes to reveal that it's not as impeccably screwed together as the interiors of the Audi Q5 Sportback, the X4 or the Porsche Macan.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Two tall adults will have room to spread out in the front seats of the Mercedes GLC Coupé, with plenty of head room and a wide interior that ensures even a pair of broad rugby players won't be rubbing shoulders.
You’d expect the sloping coupé SUV roofline to mean that rear-seat passengers are a bit hard done by for head room, but they're not. Although it’s not as spacious as the regular Mercedes GLC two six-footers can sit in the outer seats with their heads near – but not brushing – the ceiling. There’s also generous knee and leg room, with loads of space under the front seats for their feet.
A middle-seat passenger does lose out though, because they sit higher up and may well find their head touching the roof. They’ll also have to compete with a large transmission tunnel, which makes it hard to squeeze their feet anywhere.
There are four good-sized door pockets and front passengers benefit from a decent glovebox, a large cubby beneath the front armrest and a sizeable covered cubby at the base of the centre console.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
The fact that the GLC Coupé wears a Mercedes star on its nose means you pay a premium, and the entry-level AMG Line version costs a fair bit more as a cash purchase than the cheapest Audi Q5 Sportback, BMW X4 or Porsche Macan. It's predicted to lose its value slower than the Q5 Sportback and X4, but the Macan is the best coupé SUV for slow depreciation
The 220d diesel and 300 petrol engines have CO2 emissions figures that are fairly par for the course among rivals, but company car drivers probably won’t be impressed by the high benefit-in-kind (BIK) rates the model attracts. In fact, they should consider the standard Mercedes GLC because it's available as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).
Whichever trim you go for, the Coupé has plenty of standard equipment. AMG Line comes with 19in alloy wheels, electrically adjustable and heated door mirrors, heated sports front seats, automatic two-zone climate control, LED headlights and infotainment equipment. It’s our favourite version and probably all you’ll ever need.
In terms of reliability, Mercedes finished a fairly disappointing joint 23rd (with Vauxhall) out of 32 manufacturers in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey. That’s above Land Rover, but way below Lexus (which topped the table), BMW, Porsche and Audi. The GLC Coupé wasn’t included as a model, but the regular GLC finished close to the bottom of the large SUV leaderboard.
To give you some peace of mind, it comes with a three-year/unlimited mileage warranty, which is similar to most rivals.
When it comes to safety, the closely related GLC scored the full five stars when it was tested by the experts at Euro NCAP in 2022, and won an advanced award for its Car-to-X communication system. The Coupé comes with automatic emergency braking (AEB), tyre-pressure monitoring, seven airbags and a system that can detect the driver getting drowsy.
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here
The latest GLC Coupé gets a redesigned exterior, a better interior, revised engines and the latest Mercedes infotainment system.
We think your best bet is to stick with the entry-level AMG Line trim and the entry-level 220d diesel engine. That way, you can keep costs down, while still getting loads of equipment and a strong, economical engine.