Mercedes GLC SUV Review
The Mercedes GLC is an elegant SUV that looks and feels like a true premium product, but alternatives have fancier tech and are more fun to drive.
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- Looks great
- Feels lovely inside
- Decent space for passengers
What's not so good
- Desirable kit costs extra
- Alternatives are more fun
- Infotainment is still not the best
Mercedes GLC SUV: what would you like to read next?
The Mercedes GLC is a good car that could be your ideal new SUV if you’re after something with a bit more visual pizzazz than the likes of the sporty BMW X3 or rather staid Audi Q5.
This latest model comes with headlights and brake lights with upgraded LED innards to make them brighter, and a set of redesigned bumpers which look a fair bit more aggressive than the old car’s. Until you peek closer, that is, and realise most of the intakes, vents and exhausts are fake…
There’s no fakery in the Mercedes GLC’s cabin, though. It all looks and feels very posh indeed thanks to swathes of brushed metal, convincing leatherette and soft, yielding plastics.
The Mercedes GLC’s interior isn’t without fault, though – the seamless widescreen infotainment system you get on almost all other Mercedes models is absent from the GLC. Instead, you get a rather old-fashioned set of analogue dials and a free-standing touchscreen display, which looks like a bit of an afterthought.
Thankfully, you won’t be left wanting for space inside the GLC. There’s plenty of room to stretch out in the front and there’s space in the back for a couple of six-footers to get comfy. Boot space is on par with the likes of the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 so the GLC will be as happy trotting off on trips to the golf club as it will be heading to the tip.
Unlike some SUVs, the Mercedes doesn’t try to feel like a jacked-up sports car. Instead, it’s a relaxing, upmarket family car with a stylish yet practical cabin.
If it’s long journeys rather than short trips you’ll be using your Mercedes GLC for, you’d better go for one of the diesel engines. They’re pretty smooth, relatively perky and more economical on motorways than the petrol units.
The petrol engines are still worth a look if most of your driving is around town, though – as is the upgraded adaptive air suspension. You’d never call the GLC uncomfortable, but without this option it feels a little jittery over bumpy roads.
Something you can do without, however, are the 20-inch alloy wheels. Sure, they look fantastic, but they make the GLC less comfortable to drive and a little noisier at motorway speeds. With smaller wheels fitted, it’s suitably relaxing and just the ticket for whiling away long motorway journeys.
Storming down country lanes, however, is more out of the Mercedes GLC’s comfort zone. It never feels out of its depth, but the BMW X3 is a much better option if you fancy your SUV to come with an athletic side.
Many people ask if the Mercedes GLC is four-wheel drive… And the answer is yes. Every GLC is a 4×4 and they all get a nine-speed auto gearbox too.
That said, if style is more important to you than sportiness, the Mercedes GLC will be much more up your street, and well worth a place on your SUV shopping list.
There’s a decent amount of space in the Mercedes GLC for passengers and room in the boot for their luggage, but the panoramic glass roof cuts into back-seat headroom.
The Mercedes GLC’s roomy cabin is a pretty relaxing space to spend time. You don’t even have to adjust the seats yourself because every model gets electric seats as standard.
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.
All this means you won’t have to worry about aches and pains spoiling a long drive, but if you spend a great deal of time behind the wheel you’ll want to consider the upgraded Multicontour seats with their lumbar and backrest massage functions.
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 the 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 a doddle to drive and pretty comfortable, but other SUVs are more fun and come with a wider range of petrol, diesel and hybrid engines.
If you can liken some SUVs to tightly fitting running shoes, then the Mercedes GLC is a pair of comfortable loafers. It’s nowhere near as sporty, but which would you rather wear to work?
You’ll soon be able to get the Mercedes GLC with two petrol and three diesel engines – all of which come with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, a nine-speed automatic gearbox and four-wheel drive. For now, however, just the 200d and 300d diesel units are available.
The most affordable models – and your best bet if you spend lots of time driving in town – are the 200 petrol versions. These 197hp engines are smooth, quiet and don’t cost a great deal to run. Mercedes claims they’ll manage 38mpg – although you’ll probably see a figure closer to 30mpg in normal driving conditions.
The faster 300 versions come with a punchier 258hp version of the same engine, so reach 60mph from rest in less than 6.2 seconds compared to the 200’s 7.9-second time. These cars are more expensive than 200 cars, but they’re much better suited to a mix of town and country roads and return almost identical fuel economy.
If you do plenty of long drives, you’ll want to consider one of the diesel models instead. The 163hp 200d versions are pretty sluggish – accelerating from 0-60mph takes almost nine seconds – but Mercedes claims they’ll return more than 50mpg.
There’s also a more powerful 220d version with 194hp that’ll complete the same sprint in a much perkier 7.9 seconds and makes a much better motorway cruiser as a result. It’s more expensive to buy than the 200d car, but Mercedes claims it’s just as economical.
For lapping up long cross-country journeys, however, it’s the 300d you want. This 258hp car is just as quick as the 300 petrol version yet costs significantly less to run. Mercedes claims it’ll manage 48mpg, but you can expect to see closer to 40mpg in normal driving conditions.
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.
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.
You can get the GLC with three different types of suspension. The standard car comes with conventional steel springs, but you can pay extra for an adaptive suspension set-up instead. This gives you the choice of firm, sporty settings in Dynamic mode or softer, more supple set-ups in Comfort mode.
Sadly, even when set to Dynamic, the Mercedes GLC doesn’t feel as nimble as the BMW X3 on a twisty country road. At the other end of the spectrum – in Comfort mode – you’ll find it struggles to iron out bumps as well as the Audi Q5, but it’s still very relaxing to drive.
If comfort is your main priority, the top-spec air suspension system is worth considering. 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.
Another way to make the Mercedes GLC more comfortable to drive is to avoid the largest 20-inch alloy wheels. 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.
Speaking of 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.
The Mercedes GLC has a stylish interior that looks and feels pretty plush, but alternatives come with more standard equipment and fancier infotainment systems.
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