The most popular SUV in the Mercedes-Benz range, the GLC is also the best-selling prestige soft-roader in the country. Little wonder, then, that a mid-life update arrives with no small fanfare and a lot more to like than mildly altered bumpers.
The rear-wheel drive GLC 200 and all-wheel drive GLC 300 4Matic are on sale now and are fitted with the latest infotainment software from Mercedes, dubbed MBUX.
This brings advanced (and occasionally unprompted) voice recognition, satnav, digital radio and smartphone mirroring.
The downside is it is displayed through a dash-mounted 10.25-inch touchscreen, rather than the integrated displays used in the new
Given it’s an update and the likely cost of a mid-life dash replacement would bankrupt some countries, it is an understandable omission but still a conspicuous reminder this is not an “all-new” vehicle.
What is new is the engine. Power comes from a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo matched to a nine-speed automatic. The engine is good for 145kW/320Nm in the 200 and winds up to 190kW/370Nm in the 300.
The starting list price of $66,100 translates to a drive-away price range of $72,000-$74,500, depending on your state or territory. Similarly, the 4Matic’s $77,700 sticker equates to $84,500-$87,500 on the road.
That’s roughly comparable to the cost of the GLC’s longstanding rivals, the Audi Q5 or BMW X3.
Beyond all-paw grip and more power, the GLC 300 adds 20-inch wheels, side steps, privacy glass, keyless entry, wireless phone charging and multibeam LED headlamps.
Its standard driver aids — adaptive cruise control, active lane-keep and blind-spot assist — cost $2600 to fit to the GLC 200.
The facelifted version deletes the diesel engine, to be replaced by a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid due mid-next year.
On the road
Driving a GLC is very much like steering a C-Class. The quality feel pervades everything from the new steering wheel to the switchgear and plastic touchpoints.
The steering prioritises precision over feedback — for that type of responsiveness, you’ll be looking at an AMG variant coming next year — as it should in a family focused SUV.
Road noise is evident on coarse-chip surfaces but that’s the bane of every modern premium vehicle riding on larger diameter wheels than overseas counterparts. It’s a direct result of Australian drivers’ obsession with filling out the wheel arches with bling rims.
The ride quality on the run-flat rubber and conventional springs impressed on a decent cross-section of road surfaces, including a stint on gravel. Body roll is well contained and fore-aft pitching minimal.
Sharp-edged ridges and ruts — think country bridges — introduce an occasional jar into the cabin but it’s a rare occurrence.
There’s always the option of spending $1900 on adaptive dampers or $3800 for air suspension, though for now we can’t attest to how much they’ll improve the experience.
Even the base engine has enough poke to hustle off the line with two on board.
It’s the smart choice for those who’ll spend most time in the city, though most buyers gravitate to the GLC 300. Its extra engine punch more than compensates for the added weight of the AWD hardware and gives the GLC credible performance.
Still, the exhaust note and engine sound aren’t particularly inspiring.
Space is good in all seats, as is storage for drinks and phones. Rear passengers get a pair of USB ports and air vents. The cargo volume is 580L and the floor lifts to expose a handy space for stashing valuables.
Benz’s styling and tech update should keep the GLC at the head of the premium soft-roader pack.
Mercedes-Benz GLC vitals
Price: GLC 200 about $73,500 drive-away, GLC 300 about $86,000 drive-away
Warranty/servicing: 3 years/unlimited km, $2150 prepaid for 3 years/75,000km
Safety: 5 stars, 9 airbags, AEB, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic alerts, traffic sign recognition
Engines: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 145kW/320Nm and 190kW/370Nm
Spare: None; repair kit
Originally published as Australia’s favourite luxury SUV tested