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With the launch of the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé on March 3, we will have more coupé SUV options to choose from than ever before
The traditional definition of a coupé was quite simple. A car with a sloping roof-line and two doors, meant to look sporty and slick than your regular sedan, SUV or hatchback. But with the evolution in design, car makers took the liberty to apply the coupé suffix to more segments, giving birth to four-door coupés, fastbacks sedans and sports coupés.
Fast forward to 2020 and things look different. SUV is the hottest automotive word of this century and it is being mindfully slaughtered with sub-segments like mini-SUVs, compact-SUVs, mid-sized SUVs and of course coupé SUVs. With Mercedes-Benz having announced the launch of the GLC Coupé on March 3, we’re going to shed light on how coupe SUVs are gaining momentum with every passing year.
A little over five years ago, there was no coupé SUV on sale anywhere in the world. BMW was the first one to realise this and they pounced on the opportunity by launching the X6 in July 2015 – a beast with that elegant sloping roof line propelled by BMW’s twin-turbo in-line six-cylinder diesel engine making 313bhp and 600Nm. BMW’s ‘Sports Activity Coupé’ sparked more controversies than our corrupt politicians but its performance and handling is still pure lust.
The current generation of the X6 is still on sale in India and it will soon be replaced by the 2020 X6 and the X6 M, both in BS6 tune. We will drive the latter in the coming weeks, so watch this space for its first drive review.
It took a few years for other manufacturers to follow suit. Mercedes-Benz flexed their coupé SUV muscles with the GLE 43 AMG that packed enough punch to tickle your senses with its 3-litre biturbo V6. The GLE was the first Mercedes-Benz SUV to get the coupé treatment after the brand’s nomenclature reshuffle and India only got the GLE 43. Internationally, it was available in the GLE 63 AMG guise as well.
For those who didn’t prefer the butch proportions of the GLE Coupé and the X6, the GLC served as an ideal proposition. It came with all the bells and whistles that you expect from an AMG, with the same 3-litre twin turbocharged petrol unit from the GLE, pumping 367hp and 520Nm, hurrying to a 100kmph in just 4.9 seconds from standstill. The current generation of the coupé will soon be replaced by the 2020 GLC on March 3 and we can expect its AMG Coupe iteration to arrive at our shores a few months later.
Even the Italians fell for it! The Urus is Lamborghini’s first ever SUV and opting for a coupé SUV design was a smart decision, considering its aerodynamic advantages compared to boxy SUVs. Moving over to India, Lamborghini is selling one Urus per week in the country and since its launch in January 2018, they have sold over 55 units - a staggering number for something that costs north of Rs 3 crore on road.
The X4 was globally unveiled at the 2019 Geneva International Motor Show and it arrived at our shores a year later, in July 2019. BMW has placed big bets on the X4, producing it locally to keep costs down. Also, the X4 has had no direct rivals yet, but that will soon change with the launch of the GLC Coupé. The X4 is offered in three variants - xDrive20d, xDrive30d and xDrive30i. The xDrive30d is the punchiest of the lot with its 3-litre twin-turbo diesel engine making 265hp and 620Nm of torque, sprinting to a 100kmph in just 6 seconds.
How could one of the world’s favourite sports car brands stay away from the trend? The Cayenne Coupé is Porsche’s first coupé SUV and it’s not just a Cayenne with a sloping roof. It gets two rear spoilers, one on the roof edge and one under the rear glass for better down-force and dynamics. It also gets optional 22-inch forged aluminium wheels for that added sporty character. It’s a standard four-seater and the seat itself is lowered by 18mm to account for the lower roof. Sport Chrono package too is standard on this beauty. It’s probably one of the most stylish coupé SUVs that money can buy today.
Mercedes-Benz and BMW, both German giants now have spaceship sized flagship SUVs – the new GLS as well as the X7 are simply immense in proportions. Audi however has taken a different route. Their flagship SUV is a coupé almost as big as the Q7. Audi is aiming to target enthusiasts with the Q8 and initially only 200 units of the Q8 will be sold in India – all of them being made-to-order with Audi wanting ‘all Q8’s sold in the country to look different inside and out’.
So, the clear answer is yes, coupe SUVs are gaining momentum steadily and luxury SUV buyers in India are showing their incline towards this styling. However, they're only available within the luxury car segment as of now and the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe facelift could possibly be the most affordable of this lot, if it undercuts the BMW X4.