Mercedes GLC SUV Review
The Mercedes GLC is elegant and relaxing, and has a lot of space inside, but isn’t as hi-tech as some alternatives.
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The Mercedes GLC is an upmarket SUV with a quality interior and plenty of space inside. It’s similar to the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 – all three are upmarket and spacious, but like a posh handbag, they’re not exactly great value for money.
The GLC name hints that the SUV is of a similar size to the C-Class, and it shares a little with the way it looks too. The GLC is a bit more aggressive than the saloon, but you can see the family resemblance and both are smart-looking cars.
It’s even more similar inside as the interior of the GLC is just as luxurious and pleasant as the C-Class’. The soft-touch materials and tactile wood trims mean it’s a great place to spend time especially with the comfy leather seats.
The Mercedes GLC’s interior suffers from a rather poor infotainment set-up, though. The screen looks like an afterthought on the dash and while functionality is good, the interface looks dated and isn’t that easy to use.
There’s plenty of room inside, though, and even tall adults will have no trouble fitting in the back seats. It’s really roomy up front too, with plenty of storage around the cabin for your things. There’s a big boot as well, so whether it’s bikes, buggies or golf clubs you’re carrying there shouldn’t be any issue with space.
The Mercedes GLC has a fancy cabin and sharp styling, so it’s an appealing choice, but a BMW X3 is a more complete car under the skin
The GLC comes with a decent range of engines, so there’s a good model for each use case. The C220d model is a good all-rounder as it’s punchy and economical, or if you prefer petrol there’s the C300 model. There’s even plug-in hybrid and powerful AMG models, too.
High-spec models have air suspension but most cars have standard springs, and while the GLC is comfortable for the most part, it can be a bit jittery over bumps at low speed. The versions on larger alloy wheels exacerbate this trait.
It’s not that fun to drive either, as a BMW X3 is more agile. The steering is light but not very satisfying to use, and with four-wheel drive as standard and a nine-speed automatic gearbox, it’s safe rather than exciting to drive quickly.
Yet buyers who want a sporty car will rarely choose an SUV. The GLC is all about practicality and luxury, which it certainly lives up to. A few small flaws are easily overlooked if you love the way it looks.
If it’s your choice as a next car, check out our GLC deals page to find one at a great price.
Common Mercedes GLC questions
What does GLC stand for?
There are two parts to the ‘GLC’ name. First, ‘GL’. This is a contraction of ‘gelandewagen’, the German word for ‘off-road vehicle’, otherwise known as an SUV. Next, we have ‘C’, which Mercedes uses to denote its mid-size cars, like the C-Class saloon. Put it all together and the name GLC tells you that the car is a mid-size SUV– or the SUV equivalent of the C-Class.
Which is better – GLC or GLE?
The GLC is the SUV equivalent of the C-Class; the GLE is the SUV equivalent of the E-Class. Therefore, the GLE is a much bigger car than the GLC. So, it’s more a question of how much space you need and what your budget is.
If you want a Mercedes SUV, buy one. If you need lots of space and the option of seven seats, buy the GLE. Oh, it also has a nicer looking infotainment system. If you don’t need so much space, or your budget won’t stretch that far, buy the GLC.
Mercedes GLC Design
The Mercedes GLC is a typical medium-sized upmarket SUV – its design accentuates its size using bulges and creases in the bodywork to make it seem more aggressive. There’s a relatively long bonnet at the front, which merges into a high-up cabin. There are roof rails on top to give it a more rugged appearance, and black plastic cladding around the wheel arches does the same job. There are plenty of parts that are determined by which trim level you go for.
Mercedes GLC Sport
The Mercedes GLC Sport is the most basic model in the range but it’s still fairly flashy. It has LED headlights, a large Mercedes badge on the grille – which has a ‘four-spoke’ design – and 18-inch alloy wheels as standard. The back end of the car has a silver-coloured section at the bottom that highlights the tailpipes.
Mercedes GLC AMG Line
The AMG Line version of the Mercedes GLC is easily picked out because of the different grille – it has a ‘two-spoke’ design with lots of little silver dots. Mercedes calls this the Diamond radiator grille, although there are no precious stones involved. The AMG Line car also has a different front bumper with sportier-looking air intakes, a rear diffuser and larger 19-inch alloy wheels.
Mercedes GLC AMG Line Premium
The AMG Line Premium model is almost identical to the AMG Line for the most part, but it has larger 20-inch alloy wheels, some running boards and different-looking multibeam LED headlights.
Mercedes GLC AMG Line Premium Plus & AMG Line Ultimate design
AMG Line Premium Plus trim has 20-inch alloy wheels as well but they’re in a different five-spoke design, and there’s also a sunroof. AMG Line Ultimate has the same exterior look but features special air suspension under the skin.
The Mercedes GLC has lots of room for passengers and a big boot, but high-spec models have less headroom thanks to a bulky sunroof.
The Mercedes GLC’s front doors open nice and wide and you can adjust the steering wheel height and position to help you find a comfortable seating position. The front seats come with electric height adjustment as standard, so you can tower above traffic or hunker down to maximise headroom if you’re tall.
The seats have plenty of bolstering and adjustable lumbar support to help prevent backache on long drives, but you can upgrade to a set of even more supportive sports seats in AMG Line models.
Passengers in the back don’t get anywhere near as many cool features to play with, but at least there’s ample head and legroom for six-footers to sit behind an equally tall driver. Pay extra for top-spec cars with a fancy panoramic glass roof, however, and those in the back have to forfeit a little space up top.
There’s enough room to carry three adults in the back at once thanks to the Mercedes GLC’s reasonably wide cabin and generous footwells and there isn’t a particularly pronounced lump in the floor to get in the way of your middle passenger’s legs.
It’s easy to fit a child seat for carrying very young passengers too. The Mercedes GLC’s back doors open wide and the standard Isofix anchor points are easy to access under clearly marked folding covers.
It isn’t just passengers the Mercedes GLC’s cabin can carry with ease – it comes with plenty of commodious cubby holes to help you keep everything hidden away neatly. The door bins are big enough to hold a two-litre bottle each and there’s plenty of space under the large central armrest for a few more one-litre bottles.
The two cupholders – which you’ll find hidden under a folding cover in the centre console – aren’t particularly wide, but they’re deep enough to hold a hot coffee securely. There’s also a slot for your phone and some USB ports.
The rear door bins are almost as roomy as those in the front, and back-seat passengers also get a folding armrest with a storage tray and two (albeit small) built-in cupholders. Unfortunately, while the Mercedes GLC comes with plenty of USB C charging ports, it doesn’t feature any conventional USB ports or a 12V charging socket in the cabin.
You do, however, get a 12V socket in the boot, along with some shopping hooks and a few tether points. If you need to carry larger stuff, you’ll find there’s plenty of space in the Mercedes GLC’s 550-litre boot for a few suitcases and a bulky baby buggy with enough room left under the false floor for a few soft bags.
There isn’t an annoying boot lip to get in the way of loading heavy items either, and the GLC comes with a metal scuff plate to protect the bumper from any unfortunate scrapes. There’s space to store the parcel shelf under the floor if you need to remove it and there’s a set of switches by the boot opening which automatically fold the back seats in a three-way (40:20:40) split.
Fold just the middle seat to carry two people in the back with some long luggage poking through from the boot, or you can flip all the back seats down to open up a 1,600-litre load bay with enough space to carry a bike with both its wheels attached. The back seats sit flush with the boot floor which makes it dead easy to push heavy items right up behind the front seats, too.
The Mercedes GLC is easy to drive and generally comfortable, but it’s smoother at speed than around town
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The Mercedes GLC is available with two petrol and two diesel engines – all of which come with a nine-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. There’s also the powerful GLC 63 AMG version with a hulking petrol V8 and a plug-in hybrid, too.
The Mercedes GLC’s raised driving position and large windows give you a great view out, which helps make it pretty easy to drive in town. The pillars beside the windscreen aren’t particularly wide either so you won’t have any trouble spotting traffic approaching at junctions.
The reasonably light steering helps make it a doddle to manoeuvre through a series of mini roundabouts and you get a reversing camera as standard to help prevent bumps and scrapes when parking. If that’s not enough, you can even get a self-parking system that’ll steer for you into both parking bays and parallel spaces.
A good bet if you spend lots of time driving in town is the GLC 300 petrol version. Its 197hp engine is smooth, quiet and doesn’t cost a great deal to run. Mercedes claims it’ll manage 38mpg – although you’ll probably see a figure closer to 30mpg in normal driving conditions.
The plug-in hybrid version is called the GLC 300de and comes with a diesel engine and an electric motor with a battery that can be charged up at home. It’ll get you to work if you have a short commute, so if you charge regularly you may never have to use the engine. This means it’s potentially the more economical version, and it drives well thanks to near-silent running in EV mode.
If you do plenty of long drives, you’ll want to consider one of the diesel models instead. The 194hp 220d versions go from 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds and make a great motorway cruiser thanks to much better economy than petrol models. There’s also a GLC 300d, which is a more powerful diesel, but the 220d is good enough that we’d stick with that.
The Mercedes GLC is comfortable on the whole on the motorway, but avoid versions with the largest 20-inch alloy wheels to get the best out of it. The smaller 18- and 19-inch wheels help cope with rough roads a little better and also reduce the amount of unpleasant tyre noise you’ll hear on motorways.
You can get the Mercedes GLC with a clever adaptive cruise control system that’ll accelerate, brake and even help steer for you to stop you wandering out of your lane. For even greater peace of mind, the GLC comes with automatic emergency braking as standard to help prevent avoidable collisions.
On a twisty road
Sadly, the Mercedes GLC doesn’t feel as nimble as the BMW X3 on a twisty country road, nor does it ride as smoothly as an Audi Q5 over bumpy sections.
The GLC is available with normal springs, a sportier set-up or air-suspension, but the latter is only fitted to top-spec cars and isn’t available as an option. This is a shame as it would be a worthwhile option if it were possible to add it – it improves ride quality quite a bit. Mercedes calls this Air Body Control, and it helps separate you from bumps with a pressurised cushion of air. It works very well, but you’ll still feel a rather unpleasant thud if you fail to spot a monster pothole until it’s too late.
If you’re looking for a seriously sporty SUV, there’s also an AMG-tuned GLC 63 version with a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine that serves up sports-car-shaming acceleration. Finally, there’s a GLC 43 model with a turbo V6 and 390hp, which is a neat halfway-house between the normal petrol and the insane GLC 63.
Manual or Automatic?
There’s only one choice here as the GLC doesn’t come with a manual gearbox option. Luckily the nine-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and works really well with the range of engines available in the car.
The Mercedes GLC has a great cabin with a stylish design but the infotainment system is not as good as it ought to be.