An outstanding replacement for the GLK has arrived.
Review and photos by Tom Sedens
Click on any picture to see a larger version.
Pricing: 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4Matic
Base price: $44,950
Options: $1,500 Sport package; $1,700 LED lighting package; $2,700 Intelligent drive package; $2,900 Premium Plus package; $4,900 Premium package; $250 ash wood trim; $750 aluminum running boards; $1,000 Burmester Surround Sound system; $475 Sirius satellite radio; $590 360-degree camera; $675 trailer hitch; $250 heated steering wheel;
A/C tax: $100
Price as tested: $65,235
The GLK that this new GLC replaces was one of my favourites, and much of my love was generated by its boxy, rugged good looks. Not only did it look sweet, but it was instantly recognizable. Nothing else looked like it. The all-new GLC looks great but in comparison, it’s generic as all get out. It is barely distinguishable from the larger GLE, and it blends in with many other crossovers on the streets now. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a great-looking ride, but it’s no longer unique.
The GLC’s headlights, grille, air intakes and even its LED driving lights and the nifty tail light signature all seem familiar, because you’ll find most of it somewhere else in the Mercedes-Benz line-up.
But enough belly-aching about how homogeneous the Benz vehicles are becoming. I appreciate the clean, simple styling the GLC has received and I find it quite handsome in Polar White. It sits on big honking 19-inch AMG rims and sports great proportions – a long wheelbase with nice short overhands front and back.
I (and every passenger I transported) thought that the GLC has a really pretty cabin. A combination of nice materials (I love the open-pore ash wood trim!), a neat vertical design, curved sculpting and a short dash makes the dark but dressy interior a lovely place to be. And although it is dark, a lot of the trim is surrounded by metallic plastic, and this brightwork makes a difference in dressing things up even further.
You will also note that the cabin feels very loaded – there’s a lot of stuff going on, even though it’s a mostly clean design. It’s spacious, with good head room even with the huge double panoramic sunroof overhead. I have really taken to Mercedes’ recent steering wheel designs, and the GLC’s is no exception. The awesome-feeling heated steering wheel is attached to a power-adjustable steering column. There are three stalks on the left side – thankfully they are different lengths which helps a bit, but it still feels like there’s a bit much going on there.
The heated seats are extraordinarily comfortable and very well bolstered. They are highly-adjustable with three memory settings for both sides. Front and centre is what I consider to be the nicest screen in the industry. It’s sharp and sports wicked contrast. Below it is a nice clean and simple centre stack layout versus Mercedes products from even a couple of years ago, which had an overabundance of buttons (like the numeric keypad!). They’ve kept it to a few hard buttons for the climate control and the optional 13-speaker, 590-watt Burmester media system, which sounds spectacular. And has the most beautiful speaker grilles in the industry in my opinion. They are works of art!
Everything else (including the phone, navigation and plenty of vehicle settings) is handled by the COMAND interface, which uses the rotary joystick knob and a touchpad that allows for gestures like swiping, pinch-to-zoom, handwriting recognition and more – the whole thing takes some getting used to, but once you’ve adjusted, it works pretty well. Of note, the voice recognition is very good.
If you load up your GLC like my review car was, you’ll have access to a full suite of driver assistance technology – active blind spot monitoring, active lane keeping assist, adaptive highbeam assist, PARKTRONIC with active parking assist, PRE-SAFE autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, cross-traffic assist, adaptive cruise control with steering assist and a 360-degree surround-view camera.
Here’s one of the biggest changes in terms of the GLC’s functionality. The rear seats are pretty roomy, versus the GLK it replaces. I’m 5’10” and I found a good amount of leg room and excellent head room. The rear seats are heated and the two outboard seats are very comfortable. The middle position straddles a tunnel but is usable for a third adult passenger back there if necessary.
Rear passengers will be happy with the 115V household plug and the 12V plug to charge their devices, adjustable air vents and a middle seatback that folds down to become a comfy armrest with a couple of cupholders.
If you have little ones, there are two sets of ISOFIX anchors for child seats. My three kids were mostly comfortable back there, and we didn’t hear any complaints in terms of room.
I always giggle at this, because it feels so out of place in cars nowadays, but there’s a genuine ashtray and cigarette lighter at the front of the centre console, thanks to the smoker package – it is hidden by a beautifully sculpted curved lid. The clamshell armrest lid opens to a shallow bin with two USB ports.
When you pop the power liftgate, you’re greeted by a very accessible 550 litre trunk. We all loved that the load floor is at a nice, comfortable height. Mercedes throws in a retractable, removable tonneau cover and another 12V plug.
A couple of unexpected extras – there is a significant amount of under-floor storage and there are two sets of power-folding buttons for the rear seats – one on the inside of the rear door openings, and another in the trunk. Pop that second row of seats down (they split 40/20/40, which is convenient and flexible) and you have a sizable 1,600 litre cargo area which allows you to move a whole lot of stuff.
Under the Hood
One of today’s most common engine configurations – a turbocharged 2-litre 4-cylinder – lurks under the GLC’s hood. In this application, it makes 241 HP at 5500 RPM and 273 lb.ft of torque at an awesomely low 1300 RPM. The GLC gets a 9-speed automatic transmission and Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system. We averaged 10.4 L/100 km (23 US mpg) over the course of our week with it – quite impressive for a 3,825-pound (1735 kg) all-wheel drive crossover that wasn’t being driven economically. Unfortunately it does require premium gasoline.
The GLC is surprisingly peppy. Step on it, and it provides good jam off the line. While this drivetrain won’t blow your hair back, it delivers its power in a smooth, linear fashion and has more than adequate get-up-and-go for nearly any driving situation. Proof? It will do the 0-100 km/h run in 6.3 seconds. You can choose from five driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual, each of which has an impact on the vehicle’s responsiveness and transmission programming.
The transmission is mostly smooth and quite good in terms of its intelligence, usually being in the right gear at the right time. A small nitpick – occasionally after coasting and then hitting the gas again, there was a lurching sensation. The transmission can be shifted manually using paddle shifters if that’s your kind of thing.
I was surprised that the GLC’s ride is quite firm – it should be considered sporty firm rather than super luxurious. The overall handling is OK and always feels predictably competent, but there’s body roll when you throw it into corners. No surprise, considering the vehicle rides high.
Mercedes’ excellent 4Matic all-wheel drive is incredibly capable and was highly effective in the snow in the GLC. The vehicle was also very quiet on the road, including at highway speeds. And finally, we enjoyed the great sightlines and visibility out of the vehicle.
This isn’t the first vehicle that has this feature, but I really like the back-up camera that pivots up into the tail gate when not in use. It’s never dirty, even after driving on the nastiest, sloppiest spring roads.
The optional LED head lights are very bright and very effective. Well worth the upgrade price.
It was hard to find things that we didn’t like about the GLC. But seriously, the running boards (a pricey upgrade) are the worst I’ve ever used. They are way too wide to be up so high, which means it takes an uncomfortable stretch and then a big step out of the vehicle to avoid rubbing your calves on them, and until that move becomes second nature (it never did during our week with the GLC), you’re looking at some very dirty pant legs. Skip that option.
The new GLC is a very well-balanced vehicle. It brings a great combination of functionality and driving ability to the table.
WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) was exceptionally high. We initially intended to buy a GLK, but she ended up falling in love with the B-class. She said this is one of the few vehicles she would consider trading her beloved B-class in for. That’s high praise indeed.
Mercedes-Benz didn’t miss much with this one. It’s a great size, has plenty of room inside and in the trunk for its size, is easy to drive and performs well and is a great-looking ride, inside and out. And if this one isn’t fast enough for you, check out the fire-breathing AMG GLC 43. That’ll be a whole different story.
Disclosure: Vehicle was provided by Mercedes-Benz Canada.
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