Confusion! At the same time as renaming existing models Mercedes-Benz introduces brand new ones. The GLC is both: a new car with a new name. To add to the confusion, the GLC looks different than its predecessor.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC replaces the GLK. That was a compact SUV with square lines, which was a tribute to the legendary Mercedes-Benz G-Class. Therefore, the GLK looked much tougher than its rivals, but for many customers it was too much.
That's why the GLC has soft, harmonious lines. Compared to the GLK the newcomer is longer and taller. This benefits both the space on the back seat as well as the boot. Still, the cabin space is only average for a car of this size. Adults have plenty of room, but the GLC doesn't offer overwhelming space like some of its competitors do.
It's the high build quality that distinguishes the GLC from other SUVs. The materials used are clearly of a better quality than average, and from the very first moment the driver has the privileged feeling of driving a luxury car. On top of that the GLC offers just about every safety and luxury feature Mercedes-Benz has to offer.
Things like radar guided cruise-control, blind spot detection and adaptive braking (automatically brakes for obstacles) are just the start. The GLC goes one step beyond and can actively follow other cars, even through a corner!
The head-up display is also very pleasant. Essential information for the driver is projected on the windscreen. Therefore, it seems to float in the landscape, right in the driver's view.
Optionally the GLC can be fitted with a premium audio system by "Burmester". Regrettably this is of less quality (and the acoustics are less) than with the other Mercedes-Benz models. On the other hand, the price is lower as well.
For now, the GLC is available with a choice of three engines: two diesels (220d, 250d) and one petrol engine (250). All engines are connected to a nine-speed automatic gearbox. In all cases it shifts unnoticeably, and that's the way it should be.
The entry level diesel engine develops 170 PS / 400 Nm and that's more than adequate for daily use. The "220d" never lacks any power, can quickly merge on a busy highway or take over other traffic safely on local roads. Mercedes-Benz promises a fuel economy of 5 litres per 100 km (56 mpg), which is easy to achieve in real life (the test drive took 5.3 litres per 100 km (53 mpg). Even more good news, this "base model" can handle trailers up to 2,500 kg.
And yet, something is lacking! The 220d never feels mighty and powerful, which makes cars like these so attractive. Those buying a GLC want the feeling of driving something special. With the 220d that feeling is completely absent.
Thanks to 204 PS / 500 Nm, the "250d" does offer the power the 220d lacks. Not only does performance improve, the way the power is delivered is also more convincing. This means the 250d does offer the driving pleasure a car like this should give.
The "250" (petrol engine) is as convincing, but adds a fair dose of refinement. This 2,0-litre four-cylinder engine is so strong and quiet that it could have been a six-cylinder! Regrettably the fuel economy is also like a six-cylinder with 9.8 litres per 100 km (29 mpg) (factory figure: 6.5 litres per 100 km (43 mpg)).
The GLC comes with a choice of steel dampers or air suspension. Thanks to "Air Body Control" the GLC can be either comfortable or sporty at the touch of a button. Not only the damping characteristics are changed, also the steering and the automatic gearbox change.
The difference between the various modi is noticeable. However, in all cases the GLC feels artificial. In sports mode steering is a tad heavier, but any "mechanical resistance" is still absent. That means: the driver never feels what's actually happening at the front wheels and therefore doesn't feel what the car is capable of. Even braking feels indirect and unsure.
Thanks to all the electronics, the GLC hardly tilts over. Driver mistakes are being corrected even before they happen. This makes the GLC safe and comfortable, but it also gives the car a distant character.
Thanks to air suspension the ride height can be varied and that comes in handy when going off-road. Four-wheel drive ("4Matic") is standard on every GLC. However, it's only with the optional "off-road package" that the GLC can actually go off-road.
Even with the off-road package the GLC doesn't have low gearing, diff locks or other mechanical features found on true off-roaders. Instead, Mercedes-Benz offers electronic replacements.
Using the central display the driver selects the road conditions, after which the computer does the rest. The advantage is that everyone can go off-road with the GLC. The downside is that the car will fail miserably when the wrong settings are chosen.
The test drive included a lot of off-roading and every time the GLC proved its capabilities. Thanks to the smart electronics the GLC can do serious off-roading, even without any mechanical off-road technology.
For those looking for more than just an average SUV, Mercedes-Benz now offers the GLC. Just like any other SUV the GLC offers plenty of space and a high seating position. However, the GLC takes it one step further in every possible way. When it comes to luxury, safety and build quality the GLC features (almost) everything Mercedes-Benz has to offer.
All engines perform very well and offer the refinement one comes to expect from a Mercedes-Benz. Only the "220d" lacks character and audacity. The optional air suspension ensures sublime handling, while comfort is excellent. If fitted with the optional off-road package the GLC is even convincing when going off-road. This means that the GLC is a high-class vehicle in every sense of the word!
- Very comfortable
- Also capable off-road
- Versitile and practical
- Mediocre performance of 220d
- Poor fuel economy of 250 petrol engine
- Burmester audio not as good as in other Mercedes-models
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