Mercedes-Benz GLC coupe 2016 review
Peter Barnwell road tests and reviews the 2016 Mercedes-Benz the GLC Coupe with specs, fuel consumption and verdict
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So imagine you’re Jaguar, okay? There you are sitting there in your tweed suit by the fire in your den, and you’re thinking. And watching the flames you finally admit to yourself that this sports utility vehicle phenomenon really is quite big.
But good on you for having resisted the temptation throw yourself onto that bandwagon. Everybody else has done an SUV... but then not everybody else is Jaguar, you tell yourself. The money would be good though – you could afford proper heating instead of this fire for starters. Maybe a Jaguar SUV is possible, now that you have the XE and XF sedans done and that rather good F-Type. It could be done pretty easily after all Jaguar and Land Rover are the same company, so it’d just be a matter of taking a Range Rover and giving it a Jag body. No, that would be too easy, and since when has Jaguar taken the easy way out. Old boy, we’re going to build a Jaguar SUV from scratch.
And that’s what happened, well kind of.
Jaguar’s F-Pace SUV arrived in Australia in June, we went along to the launch but now we’re getting a few F-Paces though the garage – starting with this one – the base-spec 20d in R-Sport trim. It’s placed at the more affordable end of the range, but is that a reason to buy it? Is it the ultimate mix of practicality and performance? And do you like to wear bangles?
The F-Pace was always going to look stunning with Jaguar’s own Gandalf - the brand’s design boss Ian Callum - leading the team which created the car-maker’s first SUV.
And they nailed it. Jaguar’s look is all about the silhouette and Callum has managed to pull off a sleek profile that is unmistakably Jaguar.
There’s the angry grille and long bonnet, the high waistline, the curvaceous hips and taillights almost taken straight from the F-Type.
Callum could have easily dumpster-dived the bin out the back of Land Rover, but says that you won’t find any Land Rover in the F-Pace which sits on the same platform as the XE and XF. If true, that’s a ballsy move and one that would certainly make the engineers work harder. Other carmakers don’t even hesitate to use the same underpinnings from one of their sub brands for another… not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Despite the instruction not to look at what the others were doing, you can’t tell me that at 4731mm bumper-to-bumper Callum would not have realised his F-Pace was exactly the same length as Benz’s GLC Coupe? Well the Jag is 1mm longer, but still.
Sure he has the hands and strength (and dietary requirements) of a chimpanzee, but that just shouldn’t happen on any new car.
The F-Pace stands 1667mm tall and measures 1936 mm across the shoulders (excluding the mirrors). The Benz is 67mm shorter and 46mm narrower.
Compared to its other rival - BMW’s X4 - the F-Pace is 60mm longer, 43mm taller and 55mm wider.
The F-Pace’s cabin is so very close in design to the XF’s cockpit with many of the same parts used including centre console stack with its climate control, media unit, storage areas and shifter to the steering wheel, while the dash and doors in the SUV have been given different styling.
It’s stylish in a manly and minimalist way but the fit and feel of the cabin doesn’t seem as high quality as you’d expect from a prestige brand. At one point I glanced across at our cameraman who had been quiet for way too long only to see him looking apologetically back at me and holding the innards of the electric window switch. The entire bezel had come out of the door in his hand. All he did, he swore, was try to put the window up. Sure he has the hands and strength (and dietary requirements) of a chimpanzee, but that just shouldn’t happen on any new car.
Righto, brace yourself. Those ‘removable’ window switches. They’re positioned on the window sills and that’s too high. Lifting your arm through more than 90 degrees just to put the window down, is awkward and possibly means placing excessive force on the switches which may be why ours came out. In the XF the switches are much more sensibly located on the door armrests, where your hand naturally falls.
Jaguar said it wanted to build an SUV which felt like a sports car to sit in, but surely that doesn’t mean recreating the cramped front footwells of one, too? On the driver’s side there wasn’t much room for my size 10 Chuck Taylors and the issue is not connected to the right-hand drive set-up either as the passenger side has the same amount of space.
The hippopotamus-sized transmission tunnel pushed up against my left foot in the driver’s side and my leg continuously came into contact with the hard sides of the centre console to the point where I wanted to pull over, buy some foam and gaffer tape it to console to stop it rubbing.
In the rear seats the legroom is reasonable. I’m 191cm and can sit behind my driving position with a finger’s width between my knee and the seat back. Headroom back there is excellent.
You’ll find two cupholders in the back row’s centre armrest and two more in the front. There’s a bottle holder in each door as well.
The F-Pace’s 509 litre boot is 18 larger than the GLC Coupe’s. Jaguar has calculated that figure with the space saver spare wheel under the floor, but the bulge that accompanies the optional full-size wheel will rob you of a few good litres.
Lighting is great in the cabin. There’s a touch sensitive map light over the dash which is easy to use and there lights over the back seat too.
The R-Sport 20d costs $80,044 and that places it at the more affordable end of the range which kicks off with the $74,340 Prestige 20d and steps all the way up to the $120,415 First Edition S 35t.
There’s four variants of F-Pace: the Prestige, R-Sport, Portfolio, S, plus the First Edition which will only be available during the first year the SUV is on sale.
The R-Sport 20d comes standard with a 10.2-inch touch screen, reversing camera, sat nav, front and rear parking sensors, auto tailgate and power adjustable front seats.
Our test car had the options list thrown at it. We’re talking $33,000 worth.
There was the $5065 Luxury Pack which brings configurable interior lighting, premium floor mats, illuminated door sill and boot scuff plates, and suede headlining. The Black Pack, which for $1360 added a cool gloss black grille, body-coloured door cladding, and black side vents in the front guards. Note the latter are purely decorative and don’t do any actual venting.
The 22-inch Double Helix 15-spoke gloss black alloy wheels look great and they fill the massive wheel arches perfectly – these are $4300 which is reasonably priced. The sliding glass roof is $4300, but we noticed the frame rattled when the screen was in the open position. Then there’s the $3030 perforated leather sports seats provide good lateral support while being super comfortable.
This example was also fitted with the Adaptive Dynamics Pack for $2530; the Head-up Display Pack for $2510; proximity unlocking for $1800 - which is pretty cheeky considering it's standard on nearly all but the base-spec Korean cars and same goes for the $1120 blind-spot and rear cross-traffic warning. Then there's the $1400 electrically adjusted steering column for people whose arms are broken. The full-sized spare is $1000; tinted glass is $900 and so is the digital radio. The heated front seats cost $800 and the roof racks are $600.
It means no more hiding your keys under your towel at the beach.
One of the least expensive options was the best – the Leisure Key for $640. It looks like a fitness tracker wristband but it’s a key to the F-Pace. The idea is that you can lock the keyfob in the car and go running or swimming with the wristband (it’s waterproof to eight metres) and then holding it up to the ‘J’ in the Jaguar badge on the boot will unlock the car. It means no more hiding your keys under your towel at the beach or running with them flapping about in your pocket.
The X4 xDrive 20d is the R-Sport 20d’s closest BMW rival but undercuts the Jaguar at $73,700. The GLC 220d Coupe will sell for $77,100 when it arrives here in November.
As the name hints, the R-Sport 20d has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel which makes 132kW and 430Nm. That’s a not a bad output for a four cylinder, but we’re keen to drive its big diesel brother – the twin-turbo 221kW/700Nm 3.0-litre V6.
It’s as close to faultless as an auto can get.
The transmission across the entire range is an eight-speed torque converter automatic and it’s as close to faultless as an auto can get.
The F-Pace is a full time all-wheel drive, and unless there’s a loss of traction then 90 per cent of the drive is sent to the rear wheels.
Jaguar says the R-sport 20d will drink diesel at an average rate of 5.3L/100km combined. After 269km of urban commuting, country roads and everything in between our R-Sport 20d needed 8.9L/100km which is excellent considering I wasn’t trying to save fuel until I almost ran out of it in the middle of the bush. I then made full use of the Eco mode which saw us take an almost bone-dry F-Pace 60km to the nearest petrol station. The 20d has a 60-litre tank.
The R-Sport's ride is comfortable and composed, even on those massive 22-inch wheels. The suspension is on the soft side but dynamic mode does firm up the dampers slightly.
Taking the F-Pace for a blast through Sydney’s Royal National Park and Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park gave it the chance to show us what it could do. Jaguar is keen for the world to see their F-Pace as a vehicle were high-performance meets practicality, but I don’t feel that’s the case for the R-Sport 20d variant.
The handling is okay for an SUV but not good enough for it to be considered high performance. It tends to understeer in corners when you’re driving moderately hard and this might be exacerbated by the quick steering ratio.
The driving position is spot on and that’s an achievement for a high riding SUV, and despite the cramped footwell the pedal position is excellent.
I didn’t feel as much connection as I wanted between myself and the R-Sport 20d either. I just wasn’t getting enough feedback through the steering wheel, nor could I ‘feel’ the road properly through the seat of my pants.
Then there’s the 2.0-litre diesel engine which is loud and gets the R-Sport 20d from 0-100km/h in 8.7 seconds – hardly high-performance.
The F-Pace is yet to be rated by ANCAP. While there’s AEB, ABS, traction and stability control plus torque vectoring, buyers need to option other safety tech like lane departure and blind-spot warning, and rear cross-traffic alert.
If you popping in a child seat, there's two ISOFIX mounts and three top tether anchor points across the rear row.
The F-Pace is covered by Jaguar’s three year/unlimited kilometre warranty. Jaguar recommends the R-Sport 20d be serviced every two years or 34,000km. Each service is capped at $1,100 for the first three services.
Jaguar says the F-Pace takes “performance, handling and luxury, then adds space and practicality”. Perhaps the more powerful specs of the F-Pace tick those boxes, but not having driven them I can’t say yet. What I do know is the R-Sport 20d is a great SUV, but performance and handling aren’t its strengths. I also expected a higher quality fit, finish and feel to the interior.
This is a beautiful SUV – as I’ve said, the best looking on the market with a comfortable ride. Bring on the more powerful F-Paces and let’s see if they live up to expectations.
|20D Prestige||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$44,879 – 59,950||2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2016 20D Prestige Pricing and Specs|
|20D R-Sport||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$42,888 – 54,990||2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2016 20D R-Sport Pricing and Specs|
|30D First Edition||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$72,700 – 91,960||2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2016 30D First Edition Pricing and Specs|
|30D Portfolio||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$56,600 – 71,610||2016 Jaguar F-Pace 2016 30D Portfolio Pricing and Specs|