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First drive: Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

First drive: Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d
Updated Merc GLC range still centres around diesel, and the grunty 300 d is the pick of the range.

   



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Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d

4 4 4 4 4

The Mercedes GLC receives only minor changes on the outside, but there are new engines and the option of all-digital instruments among others. Small changes? Yes, but they keep the GLC at the top of its class.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d 4Matic AMG-Line Premium
Pricing: 47,045 as tested; starts at 39,420
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: nine-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 151g/km (VED Band 151-170: 515 in year one)
Combined economy: 49.5mpg
Top speed: 138mph
0-62mph: 6.2 seconds
Power: 245hp at 4,200rpm
Torque: 500Nm at 1,600-2,400rpm
Boot space: 580-1,150 litres

What's this?

The Mercedes-Benz GLC and the C-Class saloon (and Coupe and Estate and Cabriolet) share a common platform and common engines, so it'll prove entirely unsurprising that the mid-size SUV is getting the same updates for 2020 that the C-Class got for 2019.

Those include some (very) minor styling tweaks, covering new front bumpers, new all-LED headlights (which are standard across the range from now on), new brake lights and some tweaks around the grille (which is now wider at the bottom than the top, and which flirts gently with the old MINI Paceman problem of looking like a down-turned mouth).

In the cabin, the basic shapes and surfaces are the same, but there are (optional) new digital instruments and (also optional) a new, larger, touchscreen for the infotainment system. That now uses the same, generally excellent, MBUX operating system, so you get the 'hey, Mercedes' digital voice assistant (which, generally, works pretty well) and the same nifty 'augmented reality' overlays of satnav directions on live camera feeds when you're negotiating tricky junctions.

The GLC's safety systems have also been upgraded, and include a new autonomous emergency braking system that detects if you're going to pull across a junction in front of oncoming traffic, as well as improvements to the active cruise control and lane-keeping steering setups.

The most significant change, though, is under the bonnet where the old 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel engine has been banished (about time too) and replaced by the 'OM645' 2.0-litre unit that's also doing such sterling service in the rest of the Mercedes line-up. Here, we're testing it in ritzy AMG-Line Premium trim (all the screens, gorgeous - and very comfy - diamond quilted 'Artico' pleather seats and more) with the most powerful diesel mill (for now); the same 245hp 300 d unit that's also found in the bigger GLE.

The cabin is roomy and gorgeous to look at, as well as being really well made. Mercedes has most definitely shaken off its early-2000s reputation for diminished quality at this stage, and the GLC reflects that. There's a useful 580-litre boot out the back too.

How does it drive?

Really, really well. There was a momentary pang of irritation as we set off when the engine seemed to be actually a bit gruff and noisy, but it did settle down quickly as it warmed up, and actually proved pretty refined and pleasant to use. Phew. The old 2.1-litre's noisy performance was a bugbear of the previous GLC, so it's good to see that Mercedes has addressed it. Good too to see that performance is on the Muhammed Ali side of punchy, with a thick 500Nm of torque to go with that 245hp. With 1,800kg of GLC to haul around, that means you've got some serious go (6.7 seconds to 62mph is verging on hot hatch territory) and fuel economy should generally work out on the sunny side of 45mpg. The nine-speed 9G-Tronic and 4Matic four-wheel drive are as good as ever they were.

The GLC's steering is a little lighter and less direct than that of, say, the Alfa Romeo Stelvio or the BMW X3, but the overall chassis dynamics are little short of excellent. A touch more feel to the steering would be nice, but the poise and balance as you spear through corners is really very impressive, especially for a mid-size SUV. The ride is comfy too, although larger optional alloy wheels will take their toll on that.

You can adapt the chassis performance by upgrading either to steel springs with adaptive dampers or the full air suspension setup. Tick the air suspension box and the GLC is seriously impressive off-road, easily able to tackle a slippery, gravelly 60-degree slope as well as standing water that comes up above the front bumper. In fact, it's more than a bit of a shame that most owners will never take their GLCs into the rough and experience just how capable an all-rounder it is.

Verdict

We've already used the phrase 'capable all-rounder' and that's just what the GLC is. While we'd always try to direct you to the more affordable, better-to-drive C-Class Estate, there's no denying the appeal of the GLC's SUV shape, and its combination of gorgeous interior, impressive dynamics and high quality lend it obvious appeal. It was pretty well top of its class before this update and it remains a half-a-step, at least, ahead of the competition.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

4 4 4 4 4 Driving Dynamics

4 4 4 4 4 Powertrain


Neil Briscoe - 7 Jun 2019



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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d AMG-Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d AMG-Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d AMG-Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d AMG-Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d AMG-Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d AMG-Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d AMG-Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d AMG-Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d AMG-Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 d AMG-Line. Image by Mercedes-Benz.








 

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