Mercedes-Benz’s Concept Coupe SUV previews an ‘on-road’ X6-fighting crossover

Mercedes-Benz will produce an M-Class coupe to rival the BMW X6, and it gave the first indication of what that unusual vehicle might look like at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show.

Previewed by a pre-show rendering, the Mercedes Concept Coupe SUV takes styling cues previously seen on the hip CLA-Class and GLA-Class and applies them to a larger M-Class-sized body, making for a more complete crossover-to-coupe transformation than anything that’s come out of a BMW design studio.

The grille and headlights are very GLA, although Mercedes added a tougher-looking front bumper for this bigger ‘ute. The many folds and creases in the hood and doors also give the concept a sportier attitude akin to the youth-oriented GLA.

The dramatic curve of the roof is actually quite reminiscent of the X6, but at the back the Concept Coupe SUV features horizontal taillights and sporty (if unnecessary) vents.

Mercedes says the rear end was inspired by the S-Class Coupe and, while it’s not quite as stylish as that, it is a lot less awkward than the X6’s rump.

The S-Class connection is important, though, because Mercedes views the Concept Coupe SUV as the harbinger of a new line of on-road crossovers.

While there are very few proper off-roaders left on the market, few manufacturers have had the guts to completely ignore mud and dirt when designing their crossovers, even if most are essentially station wagons with tall roofs and jacked-up suspension.

However, Mercedes says this latest concept represents a possible “on-road line” of vehicles, distinct from the current “off-road line” represented by the G-Class, GLA, GLK-Class, and yes, M-Class.

Considering that the production version of the Concept Coupe SUV – likely named MLC-Class –  will be based on the M-Class and will be built alongside it in Alabama, it will be interesting to see how Mercedes differentiates the two in areas beyond styling.