Luxury Face-Off: Lexus RX vs Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé

In a battle of mid-size SUVs from Germany and Japan, we compare the GLC Coupé’s 220d and 300d 4MATIC variants with the RX 350 F Sport.

By Edward Makwana

In the realm of automotive allure, the choice between Japanese innovation and German engineering has long captivated enthusiasts seeking the epitome of luxury. Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) and Lexus South Africa (Lexus SA), I recently embarked on a comparison test drive and took to the road to unravel the enigma of automotive charm, pitting the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé 220d and 300d 4MATIC against the bold design of the Lexus RX 350 F Sport.

The Nagoya headquartered Lexus RX 350 F Sport arrived in the optional Graphite Black metallic finish and sleek black alloy wheels, and exuded a bold and extroverted presence. Its 2.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine delivers a commanding 205kW of power and 430Nm of torque through an 8-speed gearbox. On the exterior, the RX 350 F Sport showcases Lexus’ iconic spindle-shaped grille, seamlessly integrated into the sinuous body to create a distinctive ‘killer whale’ profile.

So, what was the Lexus like to drive?

Despite its F Sport badging, the driving experience left me yearning for a more spirited performance. While the ride quality remained comfortable, I couldn’t shake off a slight bounce, reminiscent of a speedboat navigating ocean waves. Nevertheless, the interior exudes luxury through simplicity, offering ample space and an understated elegance. Equipped with a 21-speaker Mark Levinson audio system, the RX 350 F Sport promises a refined auditory experience, albeit not as captivating as some competitors’ offerings.

And the Mercs’ driving experience?

Turning to the Stuttgart headquartered Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé 220d and 300d 4MATIC, adorned in Spectral Blue metallic and Polar White metallic respectively, these vehicles exude sophistication with their sporty coupé silhouettes. Both variants are powered by a 2-litre four-cylinder engine, with the 220d generating 145kW of power and 440Nm of torque, and the 300d boasting an impressive 198kW of power and 550Nm of torque. Despite their differences in power output, the driving experience felt remarkably similar. Whether in the GLC Coupé 220d or 300d, agility, comfort, and a hint of sportiness prevailed, courtesy of the standard sports suspension and variable-ratio steering. Optional features such as the Advanced Plus Package, including rear-axle steering, contributed to a dynamic feel, especially on winding routes like the Kromdraai Road along the Cradle of Humankind. My test route incorporated a delightful pause at the serene Jodev Farm Stall, a hidden gem in the Cradle that I highly recommend for coffee in tranquillity or farm-style organic food shopping, whether on weekdays or weekends.

Inside the GLC Coupé, the Mercedes Active Intelligence and User Experience (MBUX) system, featuring the “Hey Mercedes” voice assistant and a premium Burmester surround sound system with 15 speakers, elevate the interior to new heights of luxury and technology.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe 300d 4MATIC emerges as the clear contender against the Lexus RX 350 F Sport, offering a balanced combination of elegance and dynamic driving. However, the ultimate choice between the two lies in personal brand preference. For those drawn to radical design and uncompromising comfort, the Lexus RX 350 F Sport is the one. Conversely, if contemporary elegance and versatile performance are paramount, the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe 300d 4MATIC stands as the pinnacle of automotive excellence.

Pricing for the test models is as follows:

  1. Lexus RX 350 F Sport: Starting from R1 574 100, the Lexus RX 350 F Sport includes the Lexus Warranty Experience, boasting an industry-leading seven years/105 000km coverage.
  2. Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé 300d 4MATIC*: Starting from R1 447 350, the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé 300d 4MATIC test car was adorned with options worth R245 250, elevating the total price to R1 692 600.
  3. Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé 220d 4MATIC*: Commencing from R1 392 350, the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupé 220d 4MATIC test car showcased options valued at R251 755, culminating in a total price of R1 644 105.

(*Note: The pricing for both the GLC Coupé 220d and 300d includes a 5-year/100 000km Service Plan and Maintenance Plan).

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