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Rise of the crossovers: it's Merc's GLC Coupe concept

“This year will be an SUV feeding frenzy,” proclaimed Merc marketing boss Ola Kallenius at the Shanghai unveiling of the GLC Coupe concept.

And Merc’s latest shark into the water is this very-nearly-production-ready preview of the firm’s upcoming X4 rival, a coupe crossover spun off the C-Class platform. It’s some 6cm longer, though 3cm lower, than that BMW, and only 15cm taller than the C-Class saloon on which it’s based.

Mercedes proudly boasts that the production GLC Coupe will be ‘the sportiest SUV there is’, a hefty boast in a class containing Porsche’s Macan and Cayenne, the BMW X6M and Audi’s RS Q3, to name but a handful.

We’re told the GLC Coupe is, conceptually, a blend of GLE Coupe (that’s Mercedes’ recently revealed BMW X6 rival) and GLA 45 AMG. That might lead you to imagine that the GLC Coupe employs AMG’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, but no: power comes from the C-Class’s 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6, here sending 362bhp and 383lb ft to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic box.

Merc reckons it’ll get from 0-62mph in just under five seconds, with a top speed limited to 155mph.

Make no mistake, this is far from a never-to-reach-reality trailer queen. “We will take this beauty into series production,” confirmed Kallenius, which, as statements of intent go, is pretty unarguable. Well, apart from the ‘beauty’ bit, perhaps.

Not that the GLC Coupe is, by the standards of coupe-crossovers, a bad one. We reckon it’s a less bothersome bit of design than the X4 - the Merc’s rear lights, in particular, are smartly resolved, if likely to be toned down a little for production - but can’t help thinking how much smarter it’d look with the SUV element removed, thus becoming a regular four-door coupe rather than, um, high-riding four-door coupe.

But SUVs are what the world wants: in particular they’re what China wants, which goes some way to explaining why Mercedes chose to launch the GLC Coupe concept in Shanghai.

In 2014, over 18 million passenger cars were sold in China - making it the biggest market in the world - with 26 per cent of them SUVs of some form. With even bigger sales expected this year, that’s a honeypot that no manufacturer can ignore.

Least of all Mercedes. Set to reveal the production version of this concept within 18 months or so, not to mention the newly released GLE (formerly known as ML) and GLE coupe, and upcoming GLS (a vast, Q7-rivalling seven-seater), it’ll soon boast no fewer than seven SUVs in its line-up…

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