Mercedes GLC SUV Review

The Mercedes GLC is a stylish, spacious family SUV with a lovely interior and plenty of space in the back but alternatives have more high-tech features and feel more fun to drive.

8/10
Wowscore

This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Stylish looks
  • Spacious cabin
  • Comfortable to drive

What's not so good

  • Expensive top-spec models
  • Infotainment lags behind alternatives
  • Comfortable air suspension costs extra

What do you want to read about Mercedes GLC SUV?

Overall verdict

The Mercedes GLC is a stylish, spacious family SUV with a lovely interior and plenty of space in the back but alternatives have more high-tech features and feel more fun to drive.

If you’re looking for a premium family SUV and fancy something a little more stylish than the likes of the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, the Mercedes GLC could be the car for you. It’s just as practical as these cars but ditches their aggressive styling in favour of a more subtle, classy approach. A bit like an elegant golden retriever in a crowd of muscle-bound rottweilers.

Take the Mercedes GLC’s exterior, for example. There aren’t any gaping grilles or unsightly plastic trims like you’ll find on an X3 and its subtle creases and curved roofline make it look more slinky than the boxy, upright Audi Q5.

Step inside and this sophisticated theme continues. Well, mostly, anyway. The Mercedes GLC’s simple, minimalist dashboard looks posh and feels very well put together but it can’t quite match the solid-as-a-rock Q5’s cabin, nor does it have quite as much high-tech kit as the BMW X3. The infotainment system, for example, isn’t the most intuitive, but at least you can get smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android phones – unlike in the BMW.

You also get more seat adjustment as standard than the BMW, so finding your ideal driving position is a doddle. You won’t be short of space to stretch out if you’re tall either, and there’s plenty of room in the back for three adults to sit side-by-side.

Rather than try to live up to the ‘Sports’ part of its SUV title, the Mercedes GLC aims to be more relaxing, comfortable and stylish than alternatives from BMW and Audi.

Mat Watson
carwow expert

Fitting a child seat won’t present any headaches either, and the GLC’s boot is easy to load and big enough for a set of golf clubs or a couple of suitcases and a baby buggy.

If nipping to the golf course and back sounds like the sort of journey you do regularly, the Mercedes GLC’s 250 petrol engine will do just fine. If you do lots of long motorway trips, however, one of the diesel engines will be a better bet – they’re a little noisier at slow speeds but use less fuel on long drives.

There’s also a pair of high-performance AMG-tuned 43 and 63 versions if you fancy something faster, firmer and more fun to drive. It’s worth bearing in mind that they’re much more expensive to buy and, thanks to being faster than some hot hatches, cost significantly more to run.

Whichever Mercedes GLC you pick, you get a smooth automatic gearbox as standard. It’s not quite as responsive as the one in the BMW X3, but it makes light work of heavy traffic and perfectly suits motorway cruising. You also get cruise control in all but high-performance AMG 63 versions and automatic emergency braking comes as standard across the range to help prevent avoidable collisions.

The Mercedes GLC’s optional air suspension gives you yet more reasons to relax. It does a great job ironing out bumps around town and helps make the GLC very quiet at motorway speeds. Non-AMG models can’t hold a candle to the more agile BMW X3 on a twisty country road, but don’t let that put you off. If you’re looking for a stylish family SUV that’s comfortable, practical and easy to live with, the Mercedes GLC will be right up your street.

What's it like inside?

The Mercedes GLC’s elegant cabin certainly has more character than the somewhat drab BMW X3 but it can’t quite match the rock-solid build quality you get in an Audi Q5

The GLC’s cabin makes an excellent first impression but its lacklustre infotainment system really lets the side down

Mat Watson
carwow expert

How practical is it?

The GLC’s better for carrying three adults in the back than most mid-size SUVs and its flat boot makes it a doddle to load but the optional glass roof eats into rear-seat headroom

Don't think you have to do anything as taxing as adjusting your seat yourself in the GLC – even entry-level cars get electrically adjustable seats as standard

Mat Watson
carwow expert
Boot (seats up)
550 litres
Boot (seats down)
1,600 litres

Both the Mercedes GLC’s front seats come with electrical adjustment as standard so you’ll have no trouble getting comfortable, even if you’re over six-foot tall. Even entry-level cars get adjustable lumbar support to help prevent backache on long journeys, but you’ll have to pick a Sport model or above if you want heated seats.

There’s absolutely loads of headroom in the front but the optional panoramic glass roof (part of the rather expensive Premium Pack) does eat into the available space slightly. Space in the back is pretty generous, with plenty of room for tall passengers to stretch out without their knees touching the seats in front.

Carrying three abreast isn’t too difficult, either. The footwells are roomy, the centre seat is more cushioned than in an X3 or Q5 and the lump in the floor isn’t particularly intrusive.

The tall rear doors open nice and wide so it’s easy to jump in the back seats and a breeze to fit a bulky child seat. The Isofix anchor points are clearly marked by folding covers so you don’t have to faff around with easy-to-lose removable caps.

The Mercedes GLC’s various cubby holes are huge. You can squeeze a two-litre bottle in all its door bins – yes, even the ones in the back – and the space under the split central armrest is even bigger. The glove box is equally cavernous and is perfect for hiding some bulky valuables such as cameras safely out of sight.

Unfortunately, a one-litre bottle doesn’t quite fit in any of the Mercedes GLC’s cupholders. The two in the front centre console are a little small but at least they’re deep enough to hold a tall coffee cup nice and securely. Those in the folding rear armrest are only really large enough to carry a small drinks can.

A handy touch is the collapsable plastic crate you get with every Mercedes GLC. It’s about the size of a crate of beer, fits beneath the boot floor when folded and helps keep the boot neat and tidy.

You can fit 550 litres of luggage in the Mercedes GLC’s boot with all five seats in place, which is exactly the same amount of room as in an Audi Q5 and BMW X3 and around 50 litres more than in a Porsche Macan or Volvo XC60 can manage.

There’s enough space for a bulky baby stroller or a set of golf clubs and the boot’s square shape makes it a breeze to pack it full of suitcases or cardboard boxes. There’s barely any load lip to lift heavy items over and plenty of shopping hooks to stop your groceries rolling around.

There’s a generous amount of storage under the lockable boot floor too – so you can hide lots of small valuables away out of sight – and a dedicated slot for storing the load cover.

Folding the rear seats is a breeze – you just push the buttons in the boot and they flip down in a handy three-way (40:20:40) split. This means you can carry two rear passengers and some long luggage in the boot at the same time.

The Mercedes GLC’s boot floor is nearly completely flat with the rear seats folded so it’s easy to slide heavy boxes right up behind the front seats. Its 1,600-litre capacity is the same as the roomy BMW X3 and 50 litres bigger than the Audi Q5 and there’s more than enough room to carry a bike with its wheels attached.

Read full interior review

What's it like to drive?

Comfortable and relaxing but not exactly fun

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

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

Mat Watson
carwow expert

You can get the Mercedes GLC with a range of petrol engine and diesel engines. 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 – Mercedes claims it’ll return around 31mpg.

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.

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 0-60mph 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 0-60mph sprint will be over in less than four seconds in the most potent 63 S model. 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 and the optional air suspension system is even better. The lowered, stiffer setup fitted to sporty AMG Line models is less forgiving, however. 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 comes 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.

Every Mercedes GLC comes with automatic emergency braking that’ll apply the brakes automatically if traffic ahead slows suddenly. For a little extra peace of mind you can get an optional blind-spot monitoring and lane-keeping assistance system that’ll help stop you straying into the path of other cars on the motorway.

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