Mercedes MLC (2015) – Daimler’s X6 rival spied

Published: 28 July 2014

The all-new 2015 Mercedes MLC is part coupe, part crossover – and these shocking photos show just what Daimler’s new cross-breed looks like in the metal. Aimed squarely at the BMW X6, which has proved more popular than you might imagine, the new Merc MLC effectively takes an ML and squashes it for that sportier look that buyers seem wedded to nowadays.

We’ve had official hints about the MLC, of course. The Mercedes Concept Coupe SUV was shown at the 2014 Beijing motor show, previewing the ML-based 4×4. Although Merc is hiding the exact rake of the rear screen on this prototype, it looks as if it’ll follow the bold aesthetic of the concept car.

Mercedes chief Dieter Zetsche gave us some useful context about the MLC’s purpose in life. ‘With the Concept Coupe SUV we aim to secure new customers by opening up new segments for Mercedes-Benz,’ he said. ‘We see a great deal of potential for Mercedes-Benz in the combination of coupe and SUV.’

It’s worth noting that the MLC moniker is just a working name; the final production car will use a different badge, CAR understands. We first revealed the MLC plan back in 2011.

Mercedes-Benz MLC: the spy photos

Our new spy shots, taken in Germany, reveal a brutish-looking crossover that religiously follows the X6’s brash couture. Under that disguise, you can make out a bluff, upright front end, with Merc’s latest headlamp and grille treatment and what looks like a prominent roundel for the three-pointed star in the centre of the grille.

The quad exhaust pipes, copious cooling vents and spoilers on this prototype suggest we are looking at one of the faster MLC versions. As befits a sportier type of SUV, Mercedes is planning to plumb in the more powerful engines and we hear an AMG version is a dead cert.

The Mercedes MLC 63 AMG

If this is that car, we’re looking at the MLC 63 AMG, a 5.5-litre V8 breathed on to produce a heady 518bhp at 5250rpm and 516lb ft at just 1750rpm. Its ML brethren is capable of 0-62mph in just 4.8sec and top speed is capped at 155mph. Which is quite enough for a 2.3-tonne behemoth, some would argue.

But Mercedes is adamant that its MLC will handle more like a hot hatch than a 4×4 and the S-class Coupe’s active curve tilting system should help keep that large body mass in check through the corners.

Engines, specs in Mercedes’ new MLC

Of more interest to more buyers will be the range of diesel engines, which are likely to power the majority of Merc MLCs sold in the UK and most European countries. We expect the MLC 250 BlueTec and ML 350 BlueTec models to make up the backbone of the range. Those familiar with Daimler nomenclature will understand that these are a 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel and a 3.0-litre V6 TDI, mustering some 201bhp and 255bhp respectively.

A plug-in hybrid version of the Merc MLC is also in the pipeline, as Daimler gradually introduces battery-assisted versions of most of its models.

Since the Mercedes MLC is based on the underpinnings of the ML-class, it will come as no surprise to hear that the coupe-SUV crossover will be built alongside the boxier 4×4 at the Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama in the US.

Expect a motor show debut late in 2014 or early 2015. Our money is on the Detroit motor show, ahead of UK sales starting in July 2015. Likely starting price? Count on around £55,000 for a 250 BlueTec.

>> Should manufactures be blurring genres so heavily? Click ‘Add your comment’ below and sound off

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet