by Adam Lynton
Of all the weird and wonderful automotive design niches out there, the coupe-SUV style is definitely one that has elicited more comment than most. In theory, combining the sleeker proportions of a traditional coupe with the raised ride height and presence of a tough SUV sounds like a win-win situation, yet there are inevitable compromises. And whether it makes sense or not, there is clearly a market for this type of vehicle, hence the popularity of vehicles like the BMW X4 and this, the GLC Coupe. In AMG 43 form, it's not an easy car to ignore with its 362 horsepower V6 bi-turbo engine and oddball shape. Of course, that same unusual design is responsible for both minimized rear headroom and a smaller trunk than in the regular GLC - not that these aspects are likely to be of serious concern to the typical buyer of this coupe-SUV. The GLC 43 Coupe is all about standing out from the pack and blasting into the sunset, regardless of the compromises that have been made to get there. Thankfully, time-honored Mercedes traits like a quality cabin, advanced safety systems, and good comfort have been retained. If you love the looks and are willing to buy into the concept, the GLC 43 Coupe won't disappoint.
Several AMG-specific updates have been incorporated into the 2019 GLC Coupe. Newly available options include striking AMG performance seats and a Nappa/Dinamica performance steering wheel. Designo upholstery can also be specified in combination with the AMG performance seats. The AMG Performance Studio package now includes the AMG Optics Package, the latter adding gloss black exterior trim accents for a sportier look.
See trim levels and configurations:
|AMG GLC 43 4MATIC Coupe||
3.0L Twin-Turbo V6 Gas
There have been no changes to the GLC 43 Coupe's design for 2019, but it remains an arresting look. Imposing 20-inch wheels have received the AMG treatment, being a multi-spoke design with black accents. In front, an increasingly oversized Mercedes-Benz badge is set in a chrome diamond-block grille. There's also a power tilt/sliding sunroof, privacy glass, LED headlamps and taillamps, LED daytime running lamps and quad exhaust outlets.
Longer and lower than the GLC SUV on which it is based, the 43 Coupe is 186.1 inches long, 62.5 inches in height, and 82.5 inches wide (including the side mirrors). The wheelbase is identical to that of the GLC SUV at 113.1 inches. While far from dainty, the BMW X4 is bigger still in all directions. Curb weight is 4,184 lbs for the 43 Coupe, slightly heavier than the regular GLC 43.
With the regular GLC Coupe using a four-cylinder turbo, and the furious AMG GLC 63 motivated by a twin-turbo V8, the GLC 43 slots right in the middle with its twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6. With peak outputs of 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque, 0-60 mph comes up in only 4.7-seconds. The V6 is paired with an AMG speedshift nine-speed automatic transmission; using Dynamic Select, you can choose between Comfort, Sport, and Sport + mode.
The engine and transmission are an excellent match, and provide the GLC 43 Coupe with vigorous performance, whether in town or at elevated speeds on the highway. The transmission provides rapid shifts and does so smoothly while settling into the background in Comfort mode. While it can't match the 63's full-throated bellow, the 43's V6 still emits a pleasing sound. Although throttle response can be frustratingly slow in Comfort mode, switching to Sport is an easy remedy. Overall performance is more than enough for daily use, the GLC 43 remaining alert, and providing ample power, whether fully loaded or not.
There's a lot more in the GLC 43 Coupe's arsenal than straight-line performance. Tackling a few curves reveals great body control and more grip than you'll ever need, thanks to the 4Matic all-wheel-drive system. As on the GLC SUV, the system is rear-biased and endows the 43 Coupe with confidence-inspiring handling when blasting out of corners. The steering gets a thumbs up too, thankfully not being completely devoid of feel while also faithfully adhering to even smaller driver inputs.
Dial back to Comfort mode, and the GLC Coupe isn't fatiguing in the way some older AMG's used to be. The ride is cushioned enough so that longer trips aren't energy-sapping exercises. Combined with a refined cabin that effectively shuts out external noises, and the 43's split personality has broad appeal.
With city/highway/combined cycle figures of 19/24/21 mpg, the GLC 43 Coupe isn't quite as economical as the BMW X4 M40i (20/27/23 mpg). On a 17.4-gallon tank of premium unleaded, the 43 Coupe should be able to travel around 365 miles. These economy numbers, overall, are a result of the GLC 43 Coupe's less aerodynamic shape and increased heft over a traditional sedan - consider the AMG C43's superior EPA figures of 19/27/22 mpg.
Providing seating for five passengers, the GLC Coupe's cabin is inviting and built to a pleasingly high standard. The seats are upholstered in a mix of MB-Tex and suede-like Dinamica, a combination that's appealing enough so that the absence of leather isn't really noticeable.
In front, there are no problems with space - legroom and headroom are both generous, while 14-way power adjustment for both front seats enhances comfort levels. The back seat is expectedly more of a mixed bag. While the legroom remains on par with the GLC SUV, and official figures indicate that rear headroom has decreased by only 0.2 inches, the reality is that headroom definitely feels more restricted. There's also been a 0.7 inch reduction in rear shoulder room, making the GLC Coupe a bit more of a squeeze for three passengers abreast than in the GLC SUV.
Thankfully, the GLC Coupe's trunk gives up no room to the regular GLC, with an identical 17.6 cubic feet of space available behind the back seats. It's only when folding down the rear seats that there is a slight reduction in space, with the GLC Coupe having 49.4 cubes of total capacity, down from the regular GLC's 56.5. The BMW X4 has more space available than the GLC Coupe, but there's not much in it. A drawback of the GLC Coupe's shape is a high load lip, making it more challenging to load cargo into the trunk. Helping with this - to an extent - is the ability to lower the rear air suspension by around 1.6 inches to facilitate easier cargo loading.
In the cabin, storage for smaller items is provided in the form of a center armrest compartment, while passengers at the back get cupholders housed in the center armrest. The door pockets are a useful size and are big enough for two 20-ounce bottles. If the GLC Coupe's more alluring shape tugs at your heartstrings, it's good to know that the practicality compromises aren't quite as significant as expected.
There's not much missing from the 43's standard features list, owing to its lofty position in the GLC Coupe range. The front seats both have heating, 14-way power adjustment, and memory settings - the driver memory system extends to the position of the exterior mirrors and steering wheel. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard, as are keyless start and go, a rearview camera, a power liftgate, a power sunroof, power-folding side mirrors and remote start via the Mercedes Me mobile app. Notable features on the options list include AMG performance front seats, heated rear seats and LED ambient lighting.
With the introduction of MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) in other models, the GLC Coupe's older setup is now rather outdated. As standard, you get a central controller and a seven-inch color display. Bluetooth audio streaming, dual USB ports, an HD radio receiver, SiriusXM radio with a six-month all-access trial, and an SD card reader provide a number of different ways to access audio and other entertainment options. Crucially, however, both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are only available as options, and here's the frustrating bit: by adding these smartphone integrations, you can't also have the Multimedia Package, as the two options are incompatible. The Multimedia Package includes COMAND navigation and a larger 8.4-inch screen. An alternative is to go for the Garmin Map Pilot at $625 in addition to Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, although you'll miss out on the larger screen.
The FrontBass audio system houses two subwoofers under the dash for improved bass levels, but you can also upgrade to a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system for $850.
Holding a J.D. Power rating of 84/100, the GLC 43 Coupe promises to provide a pleasing ownership proposition. However, several recalls were issued by the NHTSA for 2018 models. In one case, the passenger airbag status incorrectly displayed as "on" even though the airbag was off - this could result in the non-deployment of the airbag in an accident. Further issues pertaining to the GLC 43 Coupe included incorrect color of the turn signal lights, as well as potential inadvertent driver airbag deployment on 2017-2018 models. These issues affected multiple models within the Mercedes-Benz stable.
The GLC Coupe's basic warranty is for four years or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first. The same cover applies for corrosion, the drivetrain and roadside assistance.
While the 2019 GLC Coupe has not been crash-tested by the NHTSA, the closely related 2018 GLC has - it achieved a full five-star rating for overall safety. The regular GLC was also named as a Top Safety Pick + by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a clear indicator of excellent safety standards. Equipped with the same safety equipment as the regular GLC, the coupe variant is likely a very safe vehicle.
As the slinkier, less conservative version of the regular GLC, you'd expect the coupe to fall short as a functional, sensible SUV. While it does have less rear space and reduced overall cargo capacity, the sacrifices are surprisingly few. Whether it's ride and handling, performance from the bi-turbo V6, or interior appointments and creature comforts, the GLC 43 Coupe all but matches its more traditional sibling. Of course, value for money is another factor, with the coupe's $4,200 heftier MSRP not really equating to any tangible benefit. The competition is also stiff, with both the Porsche Macan and the BMW X4 M40i offering more engaging driving experiences. The nearly identically priced M40i also has more power, cargo space and a superior infotainment system. However, none of this discounts the GLC 43 Coupe's credentials as a legitimate and exciting AMG product.
Just a single variant of the AMG GLC 43 Coupe is available. The $61,200 MSRP excludes taxes, licensing, registration, and a destination charge, making this coupe-SUV $4,200 more expensive than the regular GLC 43.
Even though there's only one model available, the lengthy options list leaves you with lots of choice for driving out of the showroom with a unique end product. As the GLC 43 Coupe is all about its striking design, there are some tasty - but expensive - options to soup it up even more. The AMG Exterior Carbon Fiber package costs $1,750 and endows the side mirror housings and rear spoiler with the carbon fiber treatment. If the 20-inch wheels aren't glitzy enough, 21-inch AMG wheels are available for $1,000.
In the cabin, the AMG performance front seats are $2,500, but with their integrated head restraints and AMG badges, they both look fantastic and provided the added side support you'd want in a high-performance vehicle. The newly available AMG Nappa leather/Dinamica performance steering wheel costs $500, complete with a flat-bottom design and a 12 o'clock pointer. The main infotainment options are either the $2,200 Multimedia Package (with navigation and a bigger screen) or the $350 Smartphone Integration Package (with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration) - frustratingly, these two packages are incompatible.
Our ideal AMG GLC 43 Coupe would be specced with the AMG performance seats, the Burmester surround sound system ($850), the Smartphone Integration Package and the awesome AMG head-up-display ($990).
Are either of these two incredibly closely matched competitors likely to see brand loyalists question their allegiances? Unlikely. For Mercedes fans, the GLC 43 Coupe will delight with its opulent and richly trimmed cabin, its on-road comfort, and the sense of accomplishment that accompanies the three-pointed star. For Bimmer enthusiasts, the X4 M40i's surprisingly sharp handling, almost perfect 50/50 weight distribution, even brawnier 382 horsepower inline-six, and improved looks will be an unbeatable combination. But for the more open-minded among us, which is actually the better coupe-SUV? It's a genuinely tough call because neither disappoints in any major area. That said, the X4 is faster, more fuel-efficient, has more cargo space, and boasts the better infotainment system. The differences in these aspects are minor, but they're notable nonetheless, so the M40i takes this by a whisker.
The Macan has a less boxy appearance than other SUVs, thanks to a roofline that tapers at the rear, although it's the GLC Coupe that has the more unorthodox overall design. In the Macan S, there's 348 horsepower to play with, thanks to a turbocharged V6, and it provides comparable performance to the GLC 43 - albeit only in a straight line. Hit a twisty road, and the Macan sets itself apart with superb steering responses and an agility that's absent from the Mercedes. For the buyer that actually wanted a low-slung sports car but who needs to consider the needs of a family, the Macan is the clear winner over the GLC Coupe. Both have materials covered in soft-touch surfaces and expensive-looking trims, and both have some space compromises in terms of cargo and rear legroom. Neither can totally outclass the other, but if you prefer your coupe-style SUV to be more of an all-rounder and less focused on a thrilling drive, you'll likely hanker after the Mercedes.
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