One year ago, the rounded-edge Mercedes-Benz GLC midsize crossover SUV supplanted the previous, boxy GLK. For the 2017 model year, a Mercedes-AMG GLC43 model with twin-turbo V6 power, promising more intense performance, joined the four-cylinder GLC300.
Also for 2017, Mercedes-Benz offers new saddle brown leather upholstery. Blue is a new body color choice, the GLC Coupe gains LED headlights, and Premium option packages have been revised. Otherwise, little has changed. Plans for a diesel-engine model are on hold.
Serving as a complement to the C-Class sedan, the GLC has an eye-catching front end, resembling the larger GLE model.
Two body styles are offered: a conventional crossover wagon, and what Mercedes-Benz calls a four-door coupe, due to its dramatic roofline slope. Though stylishly distinctive, the Coupe version loses some cargo space for taller items.
Offered with rear-drive or 4MATIC all-wheel drive, the GLC300 holds a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. Rated at 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, the latter available at a mere 1300 rpm, the four-cylinder mates with a 9-speed automatic transmission.
Ready to deliver an extra helping of power, the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 unleashes a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 that produces 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque.
With its steering and suspension developed by Mercedes-Benz’s AMG performance division, the GLC43 rides firmly, but is compliant for everyday driving. Fitted with paddle shifters, the 9-speed automatic transmission includes a sport mode. Each GLC43, SUV or Coupe, comes with all-wheel drive. Cosmetic detail work gives the GLC43 a bit stronger presence than its GLC300 mate. An air suspension with Dynamic Select settings, standard on the GLC43, enhances comfort, as well as stiffening body control.
Plenty of active-safety features are available, but most cost extra, offered in an expensive option package. Attention Assist (drowsiness detection) is standard. So are a rearview camera and low-speed Collision Prevention Assist Plus. The Premium 3 package includes adaptive cruise control with steering assist, full-speed automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot assist, and Pre-Safe Plus to detect imminent rear-end collision.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not crash-tested the GLC. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given it Good ratings in side-impact and moderate front-overlap testing.
Mercedes-Benz intends to launch a GLC63 SUV and Coupe for the 2018 model year.
GLC300 ($39,150) comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, glossy wood trim, cloth upholstery, a 7.0-inch infotainment screen, rearview camera, power driver’s seat with memory, power liftgate, Pre-Safe, and Collision Prevention Assist Plus. All-wheel drive adds $2,000. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $925 destination charge.)
GLC300 Coupe ($45,950) includes 4MATIC all-wheel drive. Standard equipment essentially mirrors the SUV-bodied GLC300, adding a sunroof and LED headlights.
AMG GLC43 ($54,900) gets the V6 engine and AMG sport suspension, MB-Tex synthetic suede/leatherette upholstery, blind-spot assist, and 20-inch alloy wheels.
AMG GLC43 Coupe ($59,650) features black exterior and aluminum interior trim.
Wearing a body that’s related to the conventional C-Class sedan, the GLC is devoid of design cues that might suggest rugged, off-road experiences. Instead, it qualifies more as a tall wagon.
Compared to similar models from Mercedes-Benz and other automakers, the GLC body incorporates some almost-sensual shapes. Largely subtle in nature, they give the GLC a sense of charm that’s typically absent from utility-type vehicles. Differences between the GLC300 and GLC43 are largely limited to details, led by distinctive bumpers.
With its low sloping roof curvature, the Coupe version is basically a crossover wagon that lacks some of the utility of its conventional-body sibling.
Spacious and attractive, the GLC cabin is also quiet while underway. Road noise and other audible intrusions are largely subdued, though wind noise might be an issue.
Horizontal in overall orientation, the dashboard is split by a wide center console. Atop the center stack is the infotainment screen. Soft-touch materials and metallic instrument bezels convey a touch of elegance, helped by glossy wood trim.
Seats are gratifyingly roomy in front and rear, with ample space for adults and luggage. Side bolstering is modest in the GLC300, but more effective in the GLC43. A large adjustment range combines with extendable thigh bolsters to help reduce fatigue on longer journeys. Special GLC43 seats provide greater grip.
A relatively long wheelbase translates to greater rear legroom. Well-contoured seats are suitable for adults as well as youngsters. Passengers can enter easily, without acrobatic maneuvers. Three adults fit in back, provided they aren’t too broad in girth. Rearward views can be troubling, but the rearview camera helps.
Cargo volume totals 20.5 cubic feet behind the back seat of the SUV body style, whose liftgate opens high. Not surprisingly, cargo space is less expansive in Coupe models, especially for taller objects. Rear-seat headroom, excellent in the GLC300, sinks to average with the Coupe.
With its frisky but refined four-cylinder engine, the GLC300 powertrain is highly responsive as well as smooth, except occasionally at low speeds. Quiet, too.
Ride comfort ranks as superb, highly precise and nicely-controlled, as the GLC300 suspension absorbs quite a lot of pavement coarseness. Both ride and handling are strong points of the GLC43, instilling a sportier nature. The GLC43’s air suspension is adjustable from pillowy-soft to quite firm.
Performance with the GLC43’s V6 is strong, with useful power on hand at every engine speed. Acceleration to 60 mph takes only 4.8 seconds.
Despite its standard all-wheel drive, the GLC43 handles like a conventional rear-drive crossover, with excellent body control and flat cornering. The 4MATIC system is biased toward the rear, giving the front end a lighter feel. Steering is somewhat slow and dull in the GLC300, but livelier with the GLC43. Rumbling pleasantly around town, the AMG exhaust gets awfully raucous when pushed hard.
Generally, operation of the 9-speed automatic transmission is barely noticeable. Shifts vary considerably between Comfort and Sport modes, allowing the vehicle to lurch at times during urban driving.
GLC43 drivers can select Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, or Individual modes. Steering intervention with adaptive cruise control (if installed) is subtler than in rival systems.
Fuel economy is about average for the class. The GLC300 is EPA-rated at 22/28 mpg City/Highway, or 24 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive drops the estimate to 21/28/24 mpg, while the GLC300 Coupe manages 22/27/24 mpg. The AMG GLC43 is EPA-rated at 18/24 mpg City/Highway, or 20 mpg Combined.
Well-equipped in base GLC300 form, the crossover SUV version represents solid value. Plenty of options are available, but it’s disheartening to see so many modern safety features available only by adding a costly option package. Four-door Coupe bodies aren’t the wisest choice if adult passengers frequently occupy the back seat.
Driving impressions by Andrew Ganz, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.