Mercedes GLC SUV review
“The Mercedes GLC is an SUV that benefits from a lot of C-Class pedigree, but with a raised ride height and improved practicality”
- Relatively low running costs
- Quiet and comfortable
- High-quality interior
- Expensive list prices
- Limited off-road ability
- BMW X3 is more fun to drive
Mercedes has had a car battling against the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 since 2009, but to UK buyers this may not have been obvious because the old GLK-Class was only sold in left-hand-drive markets. However, since 2015, the GLC, which replaced the GLK, has been sold here and is an SUV version of the popular Mercedes C-Class saloon on which it’s based.
Mercedes gave the GLC a mild facelift in 2019, which involved some tweaks to the exterior design, some new engines and a plethora of technology upgrades inside. The updates were needed given how competitive the SUV market had become.
The revised GLC borrows engines and equipment from the C-Class. The similarities between the two models are harder to spot in style terms, however, unlike the Mercedes A-Class and GLA, which have more in common. The GLC is an attractive car in its own right, with the latest design including slimmer headlights and tail lights, and the latest Mercedes grille.
Every GLC comes with Mercedes' 4MATIC four-wheel drive and a smooth nine-speed automatic gearbox as standard. Versions badged 220d and 300d are fitted with the same 2.0-litre diesel, but tuned differently to produce 191 and 242bhp respectively. The 220d returns upto 47.9mpg and has CO2 emissions starting at 156g/km, while you can expect 42mpg and 176g/km from the 300d, which are competitive figures. These are trumped by the highly anticipated GLC 300 de plug-in hybrid model, which is said to manage 27 miles of electric range and over 140mpg. What’s more, its low CO2 emissions mean company-car tax is a third of the petrol and diesel engines.
A clear highlight of the GLC is its attractive and well built interior, which also has enough room for front and rear occupants to be comfortable, along with heater controls for people sat in the back, which is surprisingly rare. There are lots of thoughtful cubbies and the 550-litre boot puts the GLC in the same territory as the X3 and Q5, while the Discovery Sport is more practical and has the option of seven seats.
The facelift now moves over to the latest Mercedes MBUX infotainment system, but unlike all-new models, there's still a tablet-style central screen perched on the dash, that looks slightly incongruous. The software is a major upgrade, though, and the main screen now responds to touch as well as the central control pad. A regular set of dials are standard, while a large 12.3-inch digital version is available as an option.
On the road, it soon becomes apparent that Mercedes concentrated on comfort when developing the GLC. It’s very smooth on the standard suspension and even more cosseting if the optional air-suspension is fitted. Drivers on the hunt for thrills may feel short-changed, though – while the Volvo XC60 is even softer, the newer BMW X3 is more responsive and poised on a country road.
There are effectively five trim levels, consisting of two core models called Sport and AMG Line, plus Premium, Premium Plus and Ultimate packs for the AMG Line trim. The 220d engine is only available in AMG Line Premium and below; the more powerful 300d is the AMG Line Premium and up. Desirable items like a powered tailgate, reversing camera and Artico leather upholstery are all included, along with sat nav and LED headlights. AMG Line GLCs gain distinctive body styling and an interior makeover, as well as even bigger 19-inch alloy wheels.
Entry-level Sport doesn’t offer the plug-in hybrid, so AMG Line is now the most appealing trim for company-car drivers (although Sport is around £6,000 less expensive). We'd recommend spending the extra monthly finance cost for private buyers too, to benefit from all the GLC has to offer. The Premium equipment line includes adaptive headlights, running boards, a larger instrument display, ambient lighting, augmented reality navigation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility and wireless smartphone charging.
Before it was facelifted, the GLC came 61st out of 100 models in our 2019 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but reliability wasn't a strong point, so owners will be hoping issues have been remedied. Further peace of mind should be provided by the GLC’s five-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating.