Test Drive: 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe is perfectly willing to play on the pavement or go out and get dirty – really dirty – if that’s what you choose.

We chose. Actually, the weather chose for us. Rain, snow, wind and cold provided wet pavement and muddy side roads. Hard to keep a vehicle clean for photo sessions, but good for showing off the GLC’s capabilities as a four-door “coupe” utility vehicle served up with a side of fun.

Mercedes-Benz Canada brought a dozen GLC examples for an intensive two-day evaluation process – six GLC 300 and six AMG GLC 43, all 4MATIC.

Based on the same architecture as the GLC compact crossover, the “sport utility coupe” is 76 mm longer and 43 mm lower than the SUV. The extra length is largely due to the designers’ need to incorporate the sloping roofline while maintaining a sense of proportion. It works. The coupe is tasty eye candy from the Mercedes-Benz three-point star in the diamond grille to the spoiler over the rear window.

Inside, it’s typical Mercedes – power everything, comfortable leather seating and a host of electronic goodies to play with. You’d better play with them because it will take awhile for it all to become intuitive. All that aside, everything is laid out within easy reach and gauges and info screens are clear.

The seats are comfortable and if it’s cold out – and it was — you can get some serious heat from the seat warmers. The big A-pillars can be a bit of a nuisance, but visibility is good otherwise.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300
2017 Mercedes AMG GLC 43

On day one, my driving partner and I drew an AMG GLC 43, the current performer of the series (there’s a GLC 63 coming for 2018).

Unlike most press events, there’s no set route for today’s test, instead we embark on a scavenger hunt that takes us to tourist attractions within Calgary and surrounding area. In completing the tasks, we experience freeways, city streets, downtown traffic, main highways and secondary roads at speed limits ranging from 10 km/h to 110 km/h.

It was a challenge because it brought us back into the downtown area to the Fairmont Palliser Hotel at rush hour, making stop-and-go traffic the final obstacle.

Throughout, the GLC 43, powered by a bi-turbo 3.0L V6 that puts out 362 horsepower and 385 lb. ft. of torque, proves to be a likable, efficient vehicle comfortable in heavy traffic or the open road. Mash the throttle and response is instant and intense, but the real beauty of the powertrain is the ultra-smooth nine-speed automatic transmission that runs through its gear set with enthusiasm. You can let it do the work or you can exercise some influence with paddle shifters.

Self-levelling air suspension continuously adjusts damping at each corner providing a sporty ride without being harsh. Dynamic Select has four settings to adjust engine, transmission and steering response: Comfort, Eco, Sport and Sport+ along with a mode that lets the driver combine various characteristics.

And the song! If you have thirsty ears, this AMG is a solo act all its own…the music is all airflow, no background chorus played through the audio system.

Now for the practical stuff: there’s good space inside for people and their stuff – four folks ride comfortably while a fifth can ride along in a pinch.

There’s a large slate of safety gear from the passive to the electronically innovative in both iterations of the vehicles – enough to keep all but the most idiotic out of trouble.

Day two sees us piloting a GLC 300, a car that is only a tad less satisfying as its more powerful stable mate.

Its power comes from a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder rated at 241 horsepower and 273 lb. ft. of torque that’s transferred to all four wheels through that wonderful nine-speed automatic.

It’s less powerful (although not disappointing) and less melodious than its sister. It is also less costly. The GLC 300s in the test group range in price from $63,170 to $65,080 while the GLC 43s ran from $77,100 to $80,540.

The drive route runs through some historic areas of Alberta along the Dinosaur Trail. On the paved roads, the Mercedes cross-wind mitigation program maintains directional stability without undue steering inputs. But when the pavement turns to loose, muddy, gravel, the GLC 300 gets a little skittish.

Even with 4MATIC, the normally rock-steady coupe feels loose like it wants to break into a slide and neither of us is particularly at ease although the electronics intervene to maintain course.

Our first stop is Torrington, noted for its gopher hole museum (Google it), then on to the Bleriot Ferry in operation since 1913 but not yet open for the season, through the ghost town of Rowley, to lunch at the historic 104-year-old Last Chance Saloon in the Rosedeer Hotel in the near ghost town of Wayne (pop. 28). After lunch amid the coal mining memorabilia, we head to a stop at the unique Hoo Doo rock formations then to the Atlas Coal Mine Historic Site before heading back to Calgary where the out-of-towners can catch flights home armed with new knowledge about tourist and historical sites and a great new vehicle.

Time well spent in vehicles admirably suited to exploring the back roads.

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC
Trim levels: GLC 300 and GLC 43 Price as tested (before taxes):
$63,170-$65,080 (GLC 300)
$76,850-$80,540 (GLC 43)
Freight and PDI: TBA
Configuration: front-engine, all-wheel drive Engine/transmission:
3.0L bi-turbo 6 cylinder/9-speed automatic (GLC 43)
2.0L turbo 4 cylinder (GLC 300)
362 hp/ 384 lb-ft (GLC 43)
241 hp/ 273 lb.-ft (GLC 300)
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km) city/hwy:
10.0/9.8 (GLC 43)
10.9/8.5 (GLC 300)
Warranties: 4-years/80,000 km (comprehensive) Competitors: Alfa Romeo Stelvio, BMW X4, Porsche Macan

Related links:
Mercedes-Benz Canada

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