Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe test drive review

In the high-flying world of premium cars, you're more likely to find a leprechaun guarding a pot of gold in the glovebox than you are to get something you want for free.

Eye-watering options lists are the norm, sometimes running into the tens of thousands of dollars (if you're feeling particularly flush, or foolish, you could option a $55,000 Bentley picnic hamper to sit snugly in the boot of your new Bentayga, for example).

The exception to the rule

But that is somehow not the case with the new all-new Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe.  Despite more than half the buyers of the SUV version of Merc's newest and most fashion-conscious offering opting for the AMG-inspired style pack – ticking the $3500 box that nabs them bigger wheels, a chunkier steering wheel and an AMG-styled body kit – the GLC Coupe offers the very same for free.

Now that's not to say they haven't forgotten the joys of the option list completely (opting for any colour other than white or black will run you between $2k and $3k, for example), but still, it's a nice touch.

And from the outside, it looks the business. Or like someone put the current GLC SUV in the oven, shrinking and distorting its dimensions like you would with a chip packet.

All encompassing extras

The definition of a coupe has long been stretched beyond breaking point, with the name now applied to anything with a vaguely swooping roofline. And so expect none of the two-door slinky sexiness you might anticipate. Instead, the GLC Coupe is a beefed-up version of the GLC SUV, so you still get four doors, four-wheel drive and that lusted after high riding position. But you also get a low and sharply raked roofline that sweeps back to a fastback-styled boot opening.

Lower and wider than the SUV it's based on, it doesn't so much sit in its lane as it does dominate it, all arch-filling 20-inch alloys, flared guards and a wide, athletic stance. Inside, too, it's a picture of intent, with its chunky steering wheel, figure-hugging seats and AMG-stamped floor mats.

Serious horse power

Three engines arrive at launch, with the range kicking off with a 125kW, 400Nm diesel in the 220d ($71,100), before climbing to the sweet-spot of the current range, the 155kW, 350Nm petrol engine in the GLC 250 Coupe ($80,100). The range peaks with the top-spec diesel, the 150kW, 500Nm GLC 250d Coupe ($82,100). All three send their power to all four wheels, and are paired with Mercedes' nine-speed automatic transmission.

But if those numbers don't fill you with excitement, hold on for the February arrival of the fire-breathing AMG43 model, which will be hiding a bi-turbo V6 under its shapely bonnet, good for a far-more-promising 270kW and 520Nm.

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Only the 250 and 250d were available to test, and on first impressions, the petrol-powered option feels the sweet spot. Based on the very good C-Class platform, the GLC Coupe is born of good stock, and despite the extra weight and heft of the high-riding Coupe, it's dynamically excellent, holding steady through all but the tightest of corners. Really push it, and the Coupe doesn't so much roll as it does kind of half-squat, shifting its 1.8-tonne bulk to one side before powering out of a bend.

Full throttle

Power from the petrol engine is plentiful, if not exceptional, but Mercedes' standard drive mode selector improves matters, allowing you to dial up the sportiness as you wish. Flick it to Sport mode and you can feel the car tighten, with the steering heavier, the accelerator more responsive, the suspension firmer and the gearbox more willing to grab and hold gears for longer.

Flick back to Normal or Eco, however, and the GLC Coupe proves a fine city companion. It's quiet and composed in the cabin, with only the worst road surfaces invading an otherwise peaceful ambience.

While there's no shortage of interior real estate inside the 1.8-metre-wide Coupe, every element is wrapped in soft-touch material or splashed with open-pore wood-grain panelling, with the centre of the dash dominated by a seven-inch landscape-oriented screen. You can control functions in the normal fashion, but also standard is Merc's active control pad, which allows you to draw your movements and have them replicated on-screen.

It's more spacious in the back than that low-slung roofline would have you believe, with even six-foot passengers finding clear air between their heads and the roof-lining, though the shrunken rear windscreen does give the backseat a dark, somewhat claustrophobic feel.

And so the SUV party rolls on in Australia. But at least the newest entrant is dressed to impress.

Priced from: $77,100

Fuel consumption: 5.8L/100km (diesel) 7.4L/100km (petrol)

Warranty: 3 years/ Unlimited kilometre

Engines: Turbocharged 2.1-litre, 4-cyl diesel, 125kW/400Nm, 150kW/500Nm. Turbocharged 2.0-litre, 4cyl petrol, 155kW/350Nm

Transmission: 9sp automatic

Dimensions: 4,732mm (L), 1,890mm (W), 1,602mm (H)