2020 Mercedes GLC 300d Coupe review, India test drive

4th Mar 2020 8:06 pm Earlier available in AMG guise only, the new facelifted GLC

4th Mar 2020 8:06 pm

Earlier available in AMG guise only, the new facelifted GLC Coupe now comes in 300 and 300d avatars. We get behind the wheel of the diesel variant to see what it’s like.

What is it?

Just about two months after the launch of the facelifted GLC, we now have the updated Coupe version too. However, while the earlier Coupe was sold as an AMG model only, Mercedes-Benz has now chosen to introduce the facelifted car in two regular models – a petrol 300 4Matic and a diesel 300d 4Matic. 

It’s certainly a nod to the fact that, while still a niche segment, SUV-coupes are widening their appeal. Besides, with these models, Mercedes is better placed to take on the BMW X4, which is available with both, petrol and diesel powerplants. Additionally, while the AMG Coupe was brought in as an import, the updated cars are now assembled here and are thus priced more in line with the X4.

What’s it like on the outside?

The facelift brings with it new design for the headlight inserts, which are also multibeam LED units that can automatically adjust the light throw to prevent dazzling oncoming traffic. Compared to the regular GLC that gets twin horizontal bars on the grille, the Coupe gets a single bar and a diamond head pattern; this is much like the AMG Coupe but compared to it, the pin heads aren’t chromed. The bumper is the same as on the regular car and gets the aggressive cladding on the lower edge.

Coupe gets the diamond pinhead grille but it isn’t chrome-tipped as on the AMG version.

At the side, the coupe retains the slim running board from the earlier car, and while the AMG has a black window trim, the updated model gets a full-chrome surround. The 19-inch alloys are also of a different six-spoke pattern.

New-design 19-inch alloys add flair.

The rear gets newly styled tail-lights, with the lighting element design now resembling the pattern seen on the regular GLC and also the GLE and the GLS SUVs.

What’s it like inside?

Like the outsides, the interiors too receive a subtle makeover. A big welcome update, though, is the introduction of the new Mercedes MBUX connectivity system, along with the connected car experience with an onboard SIM. While the older Command system was quite outdated in its UI and lacked a touchscreen, the new system is slick and easy to use and brings with it a touch-sensitive pad in the centre console, two mini touch pads on the new steering wheel, along with a larger 10.25-inch screen that’s touch-responsive as well. 

Dashboard layout feels familiar to anyone who has sat in newer Mercs .

The touchscreen and steering touch pads work really well, are responsive, and allow you precise control. However, I would have preferred Mercedes retaining the older click wheel on the centre console, as it’s far easier to control certain functions while on the move.

There is also the new ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice command assistant, for a hands-free experience, and while it can also recognise conversational voice commands, the system in India is still to roll out in its entirety and for now you can only use the set voice prompts.

The new 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment screen comes with Merc’s updated MBUX system.

There is now also Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity, along with a built-in navigation system. Another small but welcome addition is wireless charging, but something that isn’t great is the switch to Type-C only USB ports.

Unlike the GLC, the Coupe gets the full-digital instrument cluster as standard.

For the Coupe, Mercedes has gone with a digital instrument panel. So while the regular GLC gets physical twin dials, the Coupe gets on-screen simulated dials that can be altered based on your preference and the driving mode too. The Coupe also gets a memory function for the driver’s seat. Speaking of which, seating comfort in the car is top-notch and a day spent behind the wheel wasn’t a backbreaking affair.

Space in the rear is adequate, though the dipping roof and small windows make the passengers feel hemmed in.

Rear seating too is very comfortable and has good back support, though those with a taller frame might find head room a bit tight. However, Mercedes has scooped out part of the head lining, and my 5ft 8in frame had about two inches of room above. Still, you do feel hemmed in due to the lower roof and the smaller windows.

The boot space on offer has improved over the pre-facelift model thanks to the spare being moved below the boot floor.

Another area where Mercedes has thankfully liberated more room is in the boot. In the earlier cars, underfloor space was used for storage compartments, with the space saver tyre in the boot. Now, the tyre goes under the floor, leaving you with a clean and clear boot. The dipping roof, of course, still eats into space but you can at least now get some bags in and have a spare tyre too.

What’s it like to drive?

As mentioned before, the Coupe now comes with both, petrol and diesel mills. The petrol is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder unit that makes 250hp and 370Nm of torque, while the diesel is a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder unit that puts out 245hp and 500Nm of torque. Both are BS6 compliant and are the same units as in the regular GLC. However, while in the GLC, they are in the lower 200 and 220d state of tune, in the Coupe they are in the higher ‘300’ guise. 

The new 2.0-litre OM654 diesel produces 245hp and 500Nm of torque and is very refined.

The diesel, which is the one we had for review, is the newer 2.0-litre OM654 unit that replaces the old 2.1-litre OM651 engine in the Merc fleet. And just like in the regular car, the impressive bit is the engine’s level of refinement. Noise and vibrations are minimal at start up and even on the move you’d have to consciously make an effort to know there’s an oil burner under the hood. Rev it hard and it gets vocal but it still isn’t harsh or strained.

In terms of power delivery, it’s very linear and strong all the way up to around 4,500rpm, where the 9-speed automatic gearbox will upshift no matter what drive mode you are in. Even in manual mode, the gearbox will not allow you to hit the redline that’s marked at 5,500rpm. The gearbox is a smooth shifter but isn’t lightning-quick. Compared to the 220d state of tune, the 300d does feel faster and Mercedes claim a 0-100kph time of 6.6sec against 220d’s 7.9sec time.

Soft suspension setup absorbs bumps well though affects handling.

With the update, Mercedes has softened the suspension on the GLC. It works well to absorb bumps and ruts, and keeps you quite isolated inside. At speed, however, there is some body float and spirited driving in corners will have you wishing for a firmer sportier setup. Adjustable dampers would have been the perfect solution, or even the super-stiff AMG treatment, instead of the current units. However, the steering, which does get influenced by the drive modes, has enough weight at higher speed and is light enough at lower speeds too.

Should I buy one?

Earlier, with the Coupe being available as an AMG-only model, things were a lot simpler – you either had practicality or all-out fun. Now, though, with the facelift, things get a little complicated.  

In a way, the new Coupe sits in no man’s land – it’s neither as spacious nor as practical as the regular car, nor is it as sporty and fun as the AMG. But on the other hand, if you’ve always fancied the appeal of an SUV-coupe, you now don’t have to go the whole hog into AMG territory and stretch your wallet too. You can enjoy the sportier appeal of the Coupe, get some extra performance at the pedal and a bit more equipment like a memory seat and an all-digital instrument panel – all this for a not too much a premium of approximately Rs 6 lakh. The 300d Coupe 4Matic comes in at Rs 63.70 lakh while the regular 220d 4Matic diesel costs Rs 57.75 lakh (ex-showroom, pan-India).

It all boils down then to your disposition towards SUV-coupes – if you are not a fan, look at the regular GLC. But if you love them, you now have more choice and, oh, did I mention, Mercedes says the AMG is likely to follow too?