There was a time when automakers raced to see who could build the biggest luxury cars. These days, the push is to go ever-smaller while still maintaining an upscale look and feel.
Already scoring a massive success with its downsized CLA and GLA models, Mercedes-Benz is exploring even more compact white space with the debut of the Concept GLC Coupe at this week’s Shanghai Motor Show. As with so many other recent “concepts,” the German maker isn’t doing much to hide future plans.
“With its modern and sensual design idiom, the Concept GLC Coupe gives a foretaste of future SUV models from Mercedes-Benz,” explained Gorden Wagener, head of Design at Daimler AG.
Measuring just 15.5 feet nose-to-tail, 78.7 inches in width, and using a 111.4-inch wheelbase, the Mercedes-Benz Concept GLC Coupe is just slightly larger – in all key dimensions than the compact BMW X4. Both adopt coupe-like SUV shapes that have generated a fair bit of controversy in recent years.
In the case of the Mercedes GLC, it adopts a short overhang with an upright radiator with twin blades similar to some of the maker’s more sporty models, along with the distinctive A-wing below the grille. One of the more distinctive features is the way designers have packaged all the various lamps, creating “eyebrows” with the LED running lights and turn signals. Three rotating lenses can adapt to different roads and conditions.
While the production model will likely find its biggest audience among hip urbanites, Mercedes designers have given the show car a rugged look, with scuff plates at both ends. The power bulges on the hood, as well as the diagonal quad exhaust pipes, meanwhile, declare of a more sporty on-road nature and almost certainly hint that there will be an AMG version to come, much as there are high-performance versions of the GLA and CLA lines.
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Indeed, according to Mercedes, the show car is powered by a peppy 367-horsepower V-6 that makes 387 pound-feet of torque, and is paired with a nine-speed automatic. It puts power to the pavement through a 4Matic all-wheel-drive system.
With the touch of a button, Mercedes notes, a driver would be able to adjust various vehicle setting. For one thing, “Depending on the transmission mode setting, the tailpipes give off either a commandingly subdued rumble or the passionate sound of a high-powered sports car.”
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The design details of the Mercedes-Benz Concept GLC Coupe will almost certainly be toned down a bit for production – we likely won’t see the 21-inch wheels and tires, for example – but the basic look should strongly influence both the coupe model to come, as well as the more traditional four-door model to come, replacing what was previously known as the Mercedes GLK.
Senior Mercedes officials have hinted they have a lot of options available with the underlying small vehicle platform used for a variety of downsized models, including the A-Class and B-Class, as well as CLA, GLA and, in short order, a GLC.
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Meanwhile, the maker’s press release suggests, “The SUV world of Mercedes-Benz has room for further models.” Considering that compact crossovers have become one of the hottest niches in the global automotive market, don’t be surprised to see even more concept and production models in the very near future.