Avoid the sporty AMG Line models and the GLC’s about as comfortable as you’ll need an SUV to be – just don’t expect it to be particularly exciting to drive
You can get the Mercedes GLC with a petrol engine or a diesel with a choice of two power outputs. Pick a 250 petrol model if you spend most of your time in town. The 2.0-litre engine in the 250 is smooth and has plenty of poke to dart in and out of traffic openings. It’s relatively hushed, too, provided you’re not wringing its neck. The 250 petrol has more than enough overtaking oomph for the motorway, but there it uses a bit more fuel than diesel alternatives.
If long motorway trips sound more like you, go for the 250d. It has a 2.1-litre diesel engine that isn’t quite as smooth as the petrol but it’s got more poke than entry-level 220d models and has almost identical fuel economy. Mercedes claims it can manage 56mpg but expect to see around 48mpg in the real world.
The Mercedes GLC is a comfortable pair of loafers to the X3’s lurid-coloured running shoes – it’s comfortable and relaxing but not exciting
If the BMW X3 is a pair or lurid-coloured trainers, the Mercedes GLC is a comfortable pair of loafers - comfy and relaxing but not exciting
High-performance Mercedes AMG models are also available. The mid-way GLC 43 model comes with a turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 that produces 367hp – enough to launch this high-riding SUV from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds.
Then there are the GLC 63 and GLC 63 S models that take the humble GLC to a whole new level performance wise. The drawback is that you’d rarely see more than 20mpg on the trip computer.
Every Mercedes GLC comes fitted with a nine-speed automatic gearbox that really helps take the stress out of long journeys and heavy traffic. It’s reasonably smooth but can jerk slightly at low speeds – just like the twin-clutch automatic fitted to an Audi Q5 – and isn’t as responsive as the eight-speed gearbox in a BMW X3.
The Mercedes GLC is easy to drive around town, despite its size. Its raised driving position gives you a good view over the road ahead and there aren’t too many blind spots to worry about.
The rear pillars – where the back doors meet the roof – slightly block your view out when reversing but all models come with a rear-mounted, high-definition camera that gives you a brilliant view when parking. You do get a self-parking system – that’ll steer for you into parallel and bay spaces – on Sport models and above, too.
The standard GLC’s comfort-oriented suspension does a good job of softening bumps in the road but the lowered, stiffer setup fitted to sporty AMG Line models is less forgiving. It highlights small bumps, causes the car to fidget slightly at slow speeds – especially if you pick the larger 20-inch alloy wheels – and doesn’t make the Mercedes GLC any more fun to drive. The BMW X3 is a better bet if that’s what you’re after, but they’re both slightly more lively than the rather numb Audi Q5.
Wind and tyre noise are barely audible on the move, but the Audi Q5 is still quieter at motorway speeds. Every Mercedes GLC come with what Mercedes calls crosswind assist – for extra stability in blustery conditions – and cruise control to give your right foot a rest on long journeys by holding the car at a set speed.
Although the GLC’s not a natural off-roader, all models get a variety of special driving modes to help them cope with steep inclines, slippery surfaces and rocks trails. A Land Rover Evoque will still be much happier heading off the beaten track, however.
Euro NCAP awarded the GLC a five-star safety rating in 2015. The tests have been made significantly stricter since, however, so newer five-star-rated cars (such as the Audi Q5) will offer a little extra protection in a collision. For greater peace of mind, every Mercedes GLC come with automatic emergency braking that’ll apply the brakes automatically if traffic ahead slows suddenly.