The Mercedes Benz GLC has been in our market since 2016, but still remains a very competent offering despite newer entrants in its class. The simple clean lines give it a timeless look that will remain in fashion for many years while the family friendly size makes it easy to live with every day.
Internationally, the GLC is the replacement for the GLK. India never got the GLK and there was a big gap between the compact GLA and full size GLE that needed to be plugged. The Mercedes GLC fits right in the crowded luxury midsize SUV segment which has a lot of players like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Volvo XC60, Lexus NX, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Jaguar F Pace etc.
The GLC is based on the C class and is all the better for it. The family resemblance is strong and you get the same front end that is typical of Merc SUVs. The styling is on the conservative side, but it is what most people want in an SUV. The rear gets a bit more interesting with the rakish D pillar and a wider look, giving it a sporting intent. The 18-inch wheels are simple, yet look proportionate enough for the body, with suitably high profile rubber on them.
Get inside and it is the same cabin as the C class. We were blown away when we first saw the C class cabin in 2014 and it still continues to amaze even today. Mercedes took a giant quality leap in this era and it shows with the high quality cabin, layered dashboard, double stitching, metal finish buttons and those lovely chrome vents that click into place. The GLC also gets ambient lighting, a panoramic sunroof which adds to the cabin’s feel. The 7-inch touch screen is a bit small, but it shows front and rear wide angle views plus a 360 degree aerial view which is useful for parking and when going off-road. The 550 litre boot can be expanded to 1600 litres with the rear seats folded. The seat fold and boot close are electric. The front seats are comfortable and you get good all round visibility. The rear seat has a smaller squab although not much short on thigh support. You sit higher and are much more comfortable than in a C class with ingress and egress getting bonus points.
The GLC 220d that we tested uses a 2.1 litre four cylinder diesel with 170bhp and 400Nm. There is also a petrol variant GLC 300 which gets a 2.0 litre turbo petrol with 245bhp and 370Nm that we drove earlier, but we would still have the diesel. It is very refined at idle, which may have you mistake it for a petrol variant and is very fuel efficient in a way only a diesel variant can be. The 170bhp may look modest on paper, but the 9 speed automatic that it is mated to, more than makes up for it. The ratios are well chosen and it always puts the engine in the power band. The acceleration is strong and it is quite responsive making it is an enjoyable car to drive. The gearbox in its sportiest setting even gives a tiny AMG-like jolt when upshifting.
The GLC isn’t set up to be very sporty, but the steering is sharp and has good feel. The suspension is derived from the C class but is both softer and raised for this application. This, along with the tall profile tyres, gives it good ride quality. The suspension does hit the bump stops easily and the setup gets a bit bouncy at the rear, but not to the point it is uncomfortable. There is sufficient grip thanks to the 4 Matic all-wheel drive system, but interestingly it is always the front that gives up first, despite it being a rear biased one.
If you are after a mid-size luxury SUV, the GLC is certainly worth a look. With looks that please everyone, interiors that are classy and practical, an engine that is adequately fast and frugal, and road manners that are neutral and comfortable, the GLC has the makings of the best all-rounder in its class.