Entering The High Life
The GLC is one of the most important cars for Mercedes-Benz, in-fact it is one of their best-selling current models. As luxury SUV sales have risen over the last two decades, amidst a market which has become equally more discerning; competition has also gotten stiffer.
Luxury brands are now even offering in-betweener models (mostly within their more attainable range of cars), which sit somewhat midway in-between the traditional established model types. In the case of Mercedes-Benz, we have the new GLA and GLB cars, that are in this case, below the GLC. Manufacturers have identified that there is great demand for smaller cars like these, and have gladly responded by filling up this lucrative white space.
Coming back to the GLC, it would then be inadvertently benchmarked against by the smaller Merc SUVs, for reasons of quality, street-cred… you name it.
Just fresh out form a mid-life facelift, the GLC now sports a reworked front and rear-end. Re-designed LED headlamps now features new torch-design daytime running lights, while a re-designed and enlarged decorative skid plate sits in-front of an extensively re-styled front bumper.
Mercedes seem to have also stepped away from their tradition of striped tail lights, and are now individual elements within their lenses. A visually balanced-off rear bumper also carries a smaller faux skid plate, which surrounds chromed bumper-attached exhaust finishers.
Overall, the bodywork of the GLC has remained rather untouched, and I would not want any changes, as it does cut quite a handsome silhouette.
While external stylistic tweaks have been quite subtle, the dash has been given a thorough reworking. A new 12.3” digitised instrument panel means greater flexibility in displaying information to the driver.
A new steering wheel, featuring Touch Control buttons, which can even be found entry Mercs like the A-Class Saloon, aids in easier navigation of the new infotainment system; the latter which is now equipped with MBUX - Mercedes-Benz User Experience, responds to "Hey Mercedes" to activate its functions; from adjusting the air-conditioning to finding your next destination.
The tiny screen surrounded by a thick bezel on the pre-facelift, which fronts the infotainment system, makes way for an improved 10.25” unit. Another important change, which is relief for one of my biggest gripes, is with the replacement of the taller touchpad, and rotary wheel combo; this got in the way of the buttons flanking the pad (very annoying, especially on performance-oriented Mercs, since they visually blocked off the suspension damping adjusters). In-place, a simpler flat touchpad, combined with an easier-to-work interface brings justice.
Features like its wireless charger hidden away in the front compartment, together with removable cupholders for easier cleaning, are a big plus. However, the car now does lack USB-A ports, as Mercedes-Benz has decided to switch to USB-C ones… A little drastic eh Mercedes (puts my Nokia into my pocket...)?
Interior materials used, have a good feel of quality to them in true Mercedes-Benz fashion. The boxy rear end also means that this SUV easily packs in a family of four with sufficient headroom.
Cargo space at 550 litres is the same as the competing BMW X3, and 60 litres less than the Audi Q5. The rear seats fold in 40:20:40 fashion, with a simple lug of power window-like stitches within the boot. Cargo hooks, and a storage area below the boot floor, which also has room to stow the cargo cover, adds to versatility.
The GLC300 is powered by a new 48V mild hybrid system, in tandem with an M 264 series 2.0 four-cylinder turbocharged engine. The engine on its own delivers 258hp and 370Nm, the latter from between 1,800rpm to 4,000rpm; an expansive range for good delivery of performance.
The 9-speed automatic transmission with 4Matic is however the weak point of the car, jerking between cog-swaps, and dulls what would actually be a very pleasant driving experience. With nine ratios, the GLC actually starts off in second, rather than first, unless you are in Sport mode. First gear would be too low, and too jerky in traffic, during normal driving situations.
We do like that the steering is precise (for an SUV), and body roll is predictable. The suspension, which is tuned for comfort also soaks up the bumps well, and the well-insulated interior does a great job of keeping external distractions at bay, while you sit in and enjoy the moody-emotive music of David Grey. Due to the softer suspension setup, the GLC does however dive a when you apply the brakes, and the braking distance it needs, does feel like it is a little longer than on competing cars.
While Sedans may still be a popular choice here, SUV ownership has been gaining ground; and luxury SUVs are no exception. The GLC offers drivers well-equipped, mildly ruggard executive transport, with a badge to brag.
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