The Mercedes-Benz GLC comes in a choice of distinctive bodies: conventional SUV and Coupe. Like many vehicles adopting the latter designation, that low-roofed body style isn’t really a coupe, but it’s designed to render a sportier look.
Four distinct powertrain possibilities are offered: four-cylinder GLC 300, AMG GLC 43 with V6, and V8-powered AMG GLC 63, plus a more potent S version of the latter.
The V8-powered Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 editions debuted during the 2018 model year. AMG models get a newly optional performance exhaust, as well as a Track Pace App.
The GLC 300 comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with direct injection that makes 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque, driving a 9-speed automatic transmission. It comes with either rear- or all-wheel drive.
Mercedes-AMG models come standard with all-wheel drive. All three AMG versions use the same transmission. In the AMG GLC 43, a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 develops 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. Because peak torque arrives at low speed (2000 rpm), 0-60 mph acceleration takes just 4.8 seconds.
A 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, generating 469 horsepower and 479 pound-feet, powers the AMG GLC 63, shrinking 0-60 time near 4 seconds. In GLC 63 S form, the V8 whips up 503 horsepower and 516 pound-feet. The S version comes only in Coupe guise; other models are offered in both body styles. Every GLC 63 has a limited-slip rear differential, but the S model’s is electronically controlled.
All GLCs come with a rearview camera and forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking. A safety group includes adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic LED headlights. A head-up display, blind-spot monitoring, rear-seat airbags, surround-view cameras, and Active Parking Assist are available. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety named GLC a Top Safety Pick Plus, with Good crash-test ratings all around (including small overlap).
GLC 300 SUV ($40,050) has rear-drive, a four-cylinder engine, synthetic leather upholstery, power driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, 18-inch wheels, wood trim, and a 7.0-inch infotainment display. Leather and navigation are options. (Prices are MSRP and do not include $995 destination charge.)
4MATIC all-wheel drive adds $2,000.
GLC 300 Coupe ($46,600) has a lower roofline and comes standard with all-wheel drive.
AMG GLC 43 SUV ($56,250) and AMG GLC 43 Coupe ($60,400) get V6 power and all-wheel drive, along with synthetic leather/suede upholstery and 20-inch wheels.
AMG GLC 63 SUV ($69,900) and AMG GLC 63 Coupe ($73,150) boast a 4.0-liter, 469-horsepower V8 engine and all-wheel drive. AMG GLC 63 S Coupe ($80,750) features a 503-horsepower version of the V8 engine.
Subtle sheetmetal curves and a long roofline help give the GLC its sensuous character. Although the Coupe is pleasing to the eye, its steeply sloped rear roof shrinks cargo space. As a result, the conventional crossover SUV version is the practical choice, but not by much.
From the front, both bodies look almost identical, echoing the appearance of the larger GLE. More softly shaped, yet voluptuous, the GLC suggests greater charm. AMG models get specific, more assertive front/rear bumper designs.
Upscale throughout, the GLC cabin suggests fine furniture, exuding tranquil sensibility. Upholstered in synthetic or genuine leather, depending on model, the GLC SUV is spacious all around for five passengers. Cargo volume behind the rear seat totals 20.5 cubic feet, but shrinks appreciably in the GLC Coupe, with its low roofline.
Matte-finished metallic trim and a choice of lush woods add to the premium look of the stunning interior, which relies upon flowing, flamboyant shapes.
Positioned well, facing a low windshield, the driver gets a commanding view. Nicely sculpted seats are carlike in nature. Base-model seats lack large bolsters, but include extendable thigh support. AMG models boast firmer, grippier sport seats, but omit wood trim. AMG seats straddle the line between comfort and confinement.
Back seats don’t differ much between SUV and Coupe models. Head clearance shrinks slightly in the Coupe, but it’s acceptable.
Seat contours aren’t friendly to a third passenger, but shoulder space may not be an obstacle. Most adults should slip inside easily enough, without head-ducking.
Coarse engine sounds manage to enter the cabin, though they’re more stimulating in the AMG GLC 43. Wind noise is more noticeable, too.
Pleasant overall, the GLC 300 delivers a smoothly supple ride. Even without the available air suspension, it subdues some impressively-sized bumps and holes. Add that air suspension and it glides over pavement obstacles with finesse, and without floatiness. With either suspension, the GLC 300 handles with precision and confident control.
Expect strong performance even from the four-cylinder engine. Acceleration to 60 mph takes about 6.5 seconds, delivered with quiet refinement. The stop/start system is effective, but restarts the engine with notable vibration.
As reworked by the AMG group, the GLC turns into a true performance vehicle, despite its SUV designation. AMG air suspensions are calibrated to yield a pillow-soft ride, at least in Comfort mode. Shifts from the 9-speed automatic are quicker, and the all-wheel-drive system sends more power to the back wheels. As the V6 springs to life, the sport exhaust actually crackles and pops, not unlike early muscle cars.
Steering feels more lively in AMG editions, complemented by effective body control. In Sport mode, the GLC 43 can corner briskly while remaining impressively flat.
Although the 9-speed automatic is well-tuned, lurching can occur during low-end gearchanges. Still, shifts are largely unobtrusive. With all-wheel drive, slightly more power reaches the rear wheels when starting off, smoothing acceleration.
Fuel economy ranks around average for the class. With rear-drive, the GLC 300 is EPA-rated at 22/28 mpg City/Highway, or 24 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive lowers the City estimate to 21 mpg. The AMG GLC 43 is EPA-rated at 18/24 mpg City/Highway, or /20 mpg Combined. No estimates are available for the AMG GLC 63.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC is among the best of the brands five SUVs. It comes amply equipped even in base form but is priced higher than competitors, such as Volvo’s XC60, and can become costly with options.
Driving impressions by The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.