After almost six years without an answer for the controversial BMW X6, Mercedes-Benz showed its four-door, all-wheel-drive Concept Coupe SUV at the 2014 Beijing auto show. The coupe-shaped four-door SUV concept, based on the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, provides a preliminary idea of what we’ll see when the production version debuts sometime in 2015.
Introducing the Concept Coupe SUV in Beijing was a strategic move on the part of Mercedes-Benz, given that China is among the strongest markets for the rival BMW X6. As design editor Robert Cumberford notes, “If someone else has a vehicle you don’t make one. ‘Monkey see, monkey do’ is the industry rule, even among top luxury-car makers.”
The Concept Coupe SUV adopts plainly X6-like proportions—note the short front overhang, low height, increased width, high beltline, sharply raked roof leading into a fastback-style window, and short rear decklid perched on a stubby rear end. Mercedes-Benz’s contemporary “Sensual Purity” design language, however, serves to distinguish the Concept Coupe SUV from its BMW counterpart.
Styling cues first seen on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe concept, which debuted at the 2013 Frankfurt auto show, are enlarged and dramatized even further on the bullish Concept Coupe SUV. We can see the same upright grille and gaping lower intake, framing Mercedes-Benz’s enormous three-pointed star. In profile, the Concept Coupe SUV adopts now-familiar twin character lines just under the recessed door handles and above the illuminated side sills, mimicking cues from the S-, C-, and CLA-Class production cars. A wrap-around taillight extending from the rear fender across the trunk gives the SUV a purposeful look when paired with the C-shaped scoops integrated into the rear bumper.
All-LED Multibeam front headlamps complete the SUV’s modern styling, while new turn indicators employ a moving digital light band that illuminates sequentially from inside to outside, similar to the rear lights on a Ford Mustang.
The Mercedes-Benz Concept Coupe delivers power to all four 22-inch wheels, each clad in beefy 305/45 R 22 tires. Mercedes-Benz envisions the sporty model as an example of future “on-road” SUVs, rather than the “off-road” GLA-, GLK-, M-, GL-, and G-Class vehicles. If it wasn’t already clear that the Concept Coupe SUV is a car purely about looks and the statement it makes, Mercedes-Benz at least openly abandoned all pretense of traditional SUV off-roading capability.
When the concept reaches production, possibly badged as the Mercedes-Benz MLC, it will likely utilize the M-Class’ existing range of V-6 and V-8 engines, while a high-powered AMG variant could also join the mix. If the X6 is any indicator, expect the MLC to be pricier, more cramped, and less practical the M-Class. But Mercedes likely expects MLC shoppers to buy based on looks rather than practicality. The Mercedes-Benz MLC will be built at the company's factory in Alabama. Expect the production version to debut next year as a 2016 model.