I’m afraid the biggest problem for the second-generation Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe is a thing neither it nor I have any control over: the passage of time. While the German luxury brand is retaining its compact swoopy coupey for the 2024 model year and attaching the same refinements introduced on the closely related C-Class sedan and GLC-Class SUV, this is inherently a less shocking, less interesting vehicle in today’s world.
That’s not Mercedes’ fault by any stretch. But that it took such a conservative approach to an inherently expressive vehicle in today’s ever-more-expressive market is surprising. To be frank, a gas-powered crossover-coupe in 2023 feels a bit like everything else, rather than something new or interesting. That doesn’t make the new GLC any worse of a choice following its redesign, but this is hardly the hot new thing it was when it first hit the roads.
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|Quick Stats||2024 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic Coupe|
|Engine:||Turbocharged 2.0-liter I4 w/ISG|
|Output:||255 Horsepower / 295 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH:||6.2 Seconds|
|Efficiency:||22 City / 29 Highway / 24 Combined (est)|
|Base Price:||$58,000 (est)|
Gallery: 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Coupe: First Drive
Listen, I don’t like to riff on styling because I firmly believe beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But I will say something in the GLC’s case, because the small details matter far more than an overall design that hasn’t changed much.
This is still a crossover-coupe, complete with a liftback and a lowered roofline, but the slimmer taillights make the GLC appear smaller, lighter, and more elegant when viewed from behind. Painted wheel arches replace the black plastic of yesteryear, further blurring the line between car and SUV. But up front, evolved design wins out and that’s a bit of a bummer. I’d love fresher shapes on the GLC’s nose. I’m not sure most consumers will even recognize this is a redesigned product.
Functionally, the new crossover is more aerodynamic than its predecessor, with a drag coefficient of just 0.27 compared to 0.30. Mercedes didn’t call out any one specific thing to achieve this, instead relying on computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnel testing to eke out the advantage. The new GLC is 1.2 inches longer too, with slightly increased overhangs – the tracks increase at both ends, but the GLC itself isn’t any wider. The combo of a sleeker body and a slightly larger footprint pay dividends in the cabin.
The GLC is impressively hushed as it cuts through the air, and the cabin feels roomy enough from the supportive driver’s seat. Rearward visibility is unsurprisingly compromised and I’m a bit annoyed Mercedes didn’t implement a rear camera mirror system, which seems like a no-brainer in a vehicle like this.
As Brett T. Evans complained about in his GLC300 long-roof first drive, the plastic door pull interacted uncomfortably with my left knee, especially in corners when I used the piece to brace myself. And the passenger’s side front seat generally felt more constrained, with less knee room. As for the backseats, well, if you care about the folks in back, why are you buying a GLC Coupe? It remains an uncomfortably cramped area for adults.
Beyond changes dictated by the GLC Coupe’s shape, though, all of what’s found here mimics the two-box GLC and C-Class sedan, from the primary driver interfaces to the revised infotainment system (a 12.3-inch cluster and an 11.9-inch touchscreen are standard), material choices, and overall design. The cabin feels thoroughly modern and mostly well appointed – only the bits of silver-painted plastic come in for criticism. Unfortunately, analyzing the new GLC Coupe on the roads proved more difficult than reviewing its cabin.
The cars I drove from Innsbruck to Lech, Austria, in the western part of the Alpine republic, carried the Airmatic air suspension and a rear-wheel steering setup with up to 4.5 degrees of angle – neither of those items will survive the journey across the pond, mainly because the last time Mercedes offered an Airmatic setup on the non-AMG GLC, the take rates were depressingly low. That’s a shame.
All of this is to say that I won’t be writing much about ride and handling because the impressions I gathered are not representative of the US market (although I’ll bet my bottom dollar both air springs and rear-steer will arrive on the inevitable GLC63 Coupe). You’ll also note the GLC400e badging on the car in the gallery – Mercedes only provided images of the 400e and 300de, though the vehicle I drove was a GLC300. Disclaimers out of the way, let’s carry on.
The GLC300’s powertrain bits are broadly similar from market to market, though (and thank goodness, because this would be a pretty pointless review otherwise). The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder works alongside a 48-volt battery and an integrated starter-generator, just like the GLC300 long-roof Evans drove last month and the C300 sedan I reviewed in February.
Despite the new mild-hybrid system, the 2024 GLC Coupe matches last year’s 255-horsepower entry, while torque increases from 273 pound-feet to 295. The electric motor, while not improving peak power output at all, provides up to 23 hp and 148 lb-ft in certain situations, like at low speeds or during gear changes.
The real benefit of the new system should come at the pump, although Mercedes doesn’t have EPA fuel economy estimates yet. If we look at the all-wheel-drive GLC300 SUV, though, efficiency jumped from 21 city, 28 highway, and 24 combined miles per gallon to 23, 31, and 26 with the introduction of the mild-hybrid system for 2023. There's no reason to think the GLC-Class Coupe won't replicate that improvement. As for performance, there’s no real change, with the run to 60 miles per hour still taking 6.2 seconds.
Austria is not Germany, evidenced by the fierce enforcement of speed limits in the former. And since Mercedes’ test route had precious few stretches of motorway, I rarely exceeded 70 miles per hour during my time with the GLC. But there were plenty of ascents to challenge the mild-hybrid powertrain, and the GLC proved up to the challenge with accessible torque that rarely faltered as the engine speeds climbed. The nine-speed auto held its gears willingly, although it proved just as able in manual mode. I know most GLC customers will never switch out of Comfort, but the Sport/manual pairing was a delight on the twisting mountain passes.
And while it’s not really relevant for North American consumers, the combo of air springs and rear-steer make for a vehicle that neatly balances ride quality and agility. Mercedes’ decision to limit rear-axle steering to just 4.5 degrees means that the GLC can change directions eagerly without feeling unhinged or nervous. Airmatic, meanwhile, quashed whatever bumps the GLC encountered on the Austrian roads (spoiler alert: there weren’t many).
Preparing For The Future
The 2024 GLC-Class Coupe won’t arrive in North American dealers until later in 2023, which means I don’t have any pricing info to share just yet. However, it seems logical that the redesigned GLC Coupe will mimic the price increases we saw with the closely related GLC SUV and C-Class Sedan.
The C-Class, for example, jumped from $42,650 in 2021 to $44,600 following its redesign. The GLC SUV was $44,900 in 2022, while the updated model starts at $48,150. A $2,000 to $3,000 price hike would make sense on the GLC Coupe, driving the price of the 300 model up to around $58,000, from today’s $55,850. Admittedly, though, that’s nothing more than speculation on my part.
The GLC Coupe remains a compelling lifestyle entry following its redesign, but it’s no longer the edgy, intriguing choice it was when it debuted in 2016. That’s partially down to Mercedes’ conservative redesign, but mostly because of a market that has seemingly moved on to newer, bolder, and often electrified things.
The question now then is whether the consumers who bought GLC Coupes in the past have moved on, as well. If they return, they’ll find a crossover-coupe that does everything last year’s car did, but better. It’s easier to drive, more engaging (at least with non-North American features), and smarter. But whether it will make the impact that drew folks to the GLC Coupe in the first place is a far tougher question to answer.
GLC300 Coupe Competitor Reviews:
2024 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 Coupe 4Matic