This year’s Shanghai Motor Show has swung into full action with many new cars being unveiled. Unsurprisingly many of these new cars take the form of SUVs and crossovers. China is one of the largest markets for cars in the world, with a total of over 18 million sales in 2014. Over a quarter (26%) of those were SUVs so it makes sense for manufacturers to unveil their latest high-riding cars here at Shanghai.
Mercedes-Benz took this as the perfect opportunity to unveil its GLC Coupe Concept. Don’t let the ‘Concept’ bit fool you, this is very close to being production ready. If you’ve been following Mercedes’ confusing naming restructure you’d have guessed the GLC will be the same size as the C-Class sedan. It actually uses the same platform as the C-Class and is 15mm taller. Overall the GLC Coupe is 4730mm long and 1600mm tall.
The GLC Coupe also gives us a first glance look at what the more conventional looking GLC will look like, the replacement for the mid-sized GLK SUV. Mercedes, foolishly, never made the GLK in right hand drive but have promised to sort this out with its replacement, the GLC. Back to the GLC Concept and under the bonnet isn’t some futuristic hybrid powertrain but instead there’s a 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 pumping out 362bhp/266kW and 520NM of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels via a 9-speed auto and should be able to get from 0-100 km/h in under 5 seconds.
Impressive numbers for a SUV, no doubt. But then Mercedes do claim this will be “the sportiest SUV there is”. It’ll only be a matter of time before an AMG version will appear, most likely with a 510 bhp 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8 from the C63. Throwing lots of power at an SUV won’t necessarily make it sporty and that’s one of the many complaints a few people have with these quasi-coupe SUVs. Because they’re SUVs in the first place they’re never going to handle as well as a normal coupe. And because of the coupe styling, they’re never going to be as practical as an SUV.
On the other hand they are marginally more agile than conventional box-style SUVs and do offer more versatility for those after a style-focused car. Ah, the styling. The GLC Coupe carries on the same formula as the larger GLE Coupe. It does look similar to its main rival the BMW X4 but to my eyes the back of the GLC Coupe is better executed, the taillights in particular. The profile is certainly more coupe-like than the fastback shaped X4. It’s not an offensive looking car but I personally am still not convinced by this whole niche. I’m more interested in the ‘normal’ GLC.
Expect the production version to look similar to this concept, though the 21-inch wheels from the concept car may not be carried over. The front end styling should also make an appearance on the standard GLC SUV too, albeit toned down and less aggressive. So does Merc’s new coupe-SUV tickle your fancy or do you prefer your Ponsonby Tractor to be more conventional looking?