The Mercedes-Benz GLC has been a huge success for the German brand since the original model came out seven years ago.
By providing a genuine luxury SUV ideal for families that don’t need to step up into a the larger and more expensive GLE but need something more practical and substantial than the GLA, the C-Class-based GLC has been a sweet spot in company’s SUV range.
With the first-generation GLC having launched in 2016 with great success, the second-generation (X254) GLC was unveiled about a year ago in Europe and has finally landed in Australia with one body style and one variant – for now.
If you have been waiting for it, the new GLC 300 is all the choice you will get. There is no entry-level GLC 200 for our market and the reason for that is pretty simple: most buyers of the previous model went for the higher-spec, highly-optioned models.
Mercedes-Benz Australia has applied the basic principles of the paradox of choice and reduced the complexity of its range instead of increasing it, giving customers everything they would most likely need in one simple package with just one option package to make purchasing easier.
This does mean, however, if you were hoping to get into a new GLC for under $100,000, you might be a little disappointed, though it also means any other person buying a new GLC is paying exactly the same as you with basically no discounts under the new Mercedes agency sales model, which should help preserve resale values.
Comparing the new versus old, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC gets the AMG exterior and interior package as standard to give it a much sportier look than before with a nice body kit and bigger wheels.
It does, however, mean that all GLC’s now have the AMG look to them, which is a good thing if you are buying a GLC 300, but we hope the Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 and GLC 63 take the aggressiveness to a whole new level when they get here. It does look pretty good in the flesh, even if the common German rainbow of colours (i.e. shades of grey) tends to dull some of its design aesthetics.
The GLC’s similarity to the rest of the Mercedes-Benz family can’t be hidden, and you’ll be hard-pressed to tell what it is when its in your rear-view mirror, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing because the current design language from Mercedes is inoffensive at worst and actually very nice to look at.
From a size perspective, the new SUV is 1890mm in width, 4617mm in length and 1600mm in height with a 1970kg weight. This makes it marginally larger than the previous model but not enough to make a huge difference.
Realistically, the GLC is ideal for families of two adults and two big kids that want something with a decent boot without needing that middle seat in use at all times. If you have three young kids, this will still work so long as you are not requiring all three of them in child seats.
With recent changes in Luxury Car Tax (LCT), the price of the new Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4Matic is now lower, starting at $103,370 plus on road costs.
In the past when we talk about Mercs, this is where we would usually write a lengthy paragraph about how you will now need to spend another $20,000 on options, but the reality is the GLC 300 comes with pretty much every single thing you will need.
There are two colours that are optional ($1500) and the ‘Plus Package’ which will set you back $6900 – more on that further down.
The equivalent BMW X3 (xDrive30i M Sport) is $96,500 plus on-roads, while the Audi Q5 45 TFSI quattro Sport starts at $82,800. The GLC 300, however, has a higher level of standard specification than both its German rivals.
Where the German-made GLC arguably faces some stiff competition on features alone, is from the likes of the South Korean-made (and excellent) Genesis GV70 2.5T AWD with Luxury and Sport packs at $84,400, and the Chinese-made Volvo XC60 Ultimate B6 Dark ($86,990).
The biggest improvement from the old GLC to the new is the interior. Based on the latest C-Class, the new GLC comes with a gorgeous vertically-mounted 11.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.
It’s not exactly the Hyperscreen of the higher-grade Mercedes models, but the system works very well with support for wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a very capable in-built MBUX system that you can easily navigate your way around.
We found the AMG sports seats wrapped in artificial leather (which Mercedes calls Artico) to be nice and supportive without being uncomfortable.
You can most certainly do a long-distance drive in the GLC without needing a trip to the chiropractor. The back seats are also supportive with plenty of leg- and head room if you don’t intend to stick passengers north of 185cm in both seating rows.
One thing we would love to see in cars like this is an option for massage function in the front seats, but in lieu of that, the good news is that at least heating and memory function is standard.
The steering wheel is also the latest Mercedes-Benz touch-capacitive design, intuitive functionality that requires you to just roll your finger over the controls like you would on a smartphone screen. It may take some getting used to but you will never go back to normal buttons after.
Mercedes-Benz Australia has made sure cars coming to our market have an upgraded stereo system, although it isn’t branded like the optional Burmester sound system. We found the 225-watt nine-speaker stereo to be more than adequate, although if you can spare the extra $6900 for the one and only option pack, you may as well do it to get the better sound system, alongside a host of other features mentioned below.
Other notable standard equipment that makes the interior a nicer place to be are the panoramic sunroof and head-up display, which is probably the best in the business.
Mercedes-Benz by and large have nailed the ambient lighting in their cars and the GLC is no different; you’re offered plenty of colours to pick from, and the menu layout makes choosing between them easy as it can be. You can get the interior in black, grey or brown for no extra cost.
The boot measures 620L, which will be plenty of space for most.
Mercedes-Benz GLC interior dimensions:
- Headroom, front: 1048mm
- Headroom, rear: 1007mm
- Legroom, front: 1036mm
- Legroom, rear: 950mm
- Elbow room, front: 1499mm
- Elbow room, rear: 1480mm
- Shoulder room, front: 1456mm
- Shoulder room, rear: 1438mm
- Luggage capacity: 620L
As mentioned, there is only one engine available for the GLC range in Australia for now, and that’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol with 190kW and 400Nm.
The engine is accompanied by a 48-volt electrical system and the second generation of Mercedes-Benz calls its Integrated Starter Generator (ISG), which along a host of other things, makes the start-stop system far more efficient.
You can also call it a very mild-hybrid if you must, given the 48-volt electrical system also gives the GLC the capacity to turn its engine off and coast for periods of time, thanks in large to the ISG being able to deliver an additional 17kW of power and 200Nm of torque when needed.
Mercedes claims a combined city highway fuel economy figure of 7.7L/100km (98 RON) but if you get a bit trigger happy with the right foot, you can easily see that get up to high 8s if not into the 9s.
Not that you will ever notice it in operation given just how smooth it is, but the powertrain is coupled to a nine-speed automatic transmission with power going to all four wheels. The company claims a 0-100 time of 6.2 seconds.
There is absolutely nothing that the Mercedes-Benz GLC does on the road that you can legitimately complain about.
It’s an extremely well-rounded package made for inner-city buyers who may frequent a long country road drive, and while it may not be specifically tuned for Australian conditions, we drove it over some of the worst quality roads Melbourne had to offer and it proved comfortable, safe and engaging to drive.
The steering is neutral in feel, providing great levels of response and feedback suited to a car like this, while the throttle pedal feel, driving position and outward visibility are excellent, to put it simply.
The engine and ISG work well together, which means that dreaded start-stop lag in some previous Mercs or in competitors to the GLC is long gone.
In addition, it has plenty of power and torque to get your around or make that quick overtake on the highway.
It feels sure-footed and the insane amount of active safety features work well to keep you a safe distance from the car in front while also maintaining your place in the middle of the lane.
If you commute on the highway regularly, you can literally turn on the Distronic adaptive cruise system and just relax; it will all but drive you there by itself so long as you keep your hands on the steering wheel.
The only thing we would love to see is adaptive suspension so that if you find yourself on a really terrible piece of road, you can make it ride a tad softer.
But for 99.99 per cent of normal commutes, the ride, handling and powertrain capabilities the GLC offers are more than you would likely ever ask for.
Frankly, unless you just want to make noise and get speeding tickets constantly, this is all the ‘AMG’ you need in a medium-sized SUV.
The GLC is well packaged and comes with plenty of standard features.
GLC 300 4Matic highlights:
- 20-inch alloy wheels
- AMG Line exterior
- Panoramic glass sunroof
- Aluminium-look running boards
- Coloured wheel arch liners
- Power tailgate
- 11.9-inch MBUX touchscreen infotainment system
- Satellite navigation
- Fingerprint scanner
- Head-up display
- Wireless charger
- Off-Road driving mode with transparent bonnet
- AMG Line interior
- Woodgrain dashboard trim
- Piano black centre console
- Artico upper dash
- Artico door linings
- Artico upholstery
- Powered front seats incl. memory
- Heated front seats
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
Plus Package ($6900) adds:
- Digital Light headlights
- Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus
- Heat- and noise insulating acoustic glass
- Burmester 3D surround sound system
- Augmented reality navigation
- Guard 360 vehicle protection plus
- Additional driving assistance systems
- Obsidian Black Metallic
- Nautic Blue Metallic
- Metallic Graphite
- Mojave Silver Metallic
- High-Tech Silver Metallic
- Spectral Blue Metallic
- Polar White
- Opalite White Bright: $1153.90
- Patagonia Red Metallic: $1153.90
The Mercedes-Benz GLC received a maximum five-star safety ANCAP rating against 2020-2022 criteria, based on tests conducted by Euro NCAP.
The GLC scored 92 per cent for adult occupant protection, 92 per cent for child occupant protection, 74 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 84 per cent for safety assistance.
ANCAP noted the GLC scored highly in the adult occupant protection category, with full points awarded for the protection of the driver and child occupants in the side impact test, the driver in the full-width frontal test, and front-seat passenger in the front offset test.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC, like all new Mercedes-Benz models, is covered by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.
Servicing is required every 12 months or 25,000km – whichever comes first.
There was a bit of debate in the CarExpert offices in regards to the new Mercedes-Benz GLC and whether the starting price (realistically about $110,000 on road) is getting too expensive.
But considering the average transactional price of the previous-generation model in Australia was in the mid-$90k region and just how much more you get in the new model – as well as how everything has gotten more expensive in the last few years – it seemingly adds up.
That’s not to say an entry model wouldn’t have been appreciated, and perhaps in time it will come to join the new GLC Coupe and full-blown AMG variants destined for our market in the near future.
The thing about the Mercedes-Benz GLC is that it does everything really, really well. It may not be the absolute best at every single thing (e.g. arguably, the BMW X3 and Genesis GV70 are more dynamically engaging), but as an overall package this is a better car than its rivals – so long as you can swallow the asking price.
No matter how you look at it, the new GLC is in many respects the most accomplished medium SUV in the luxury segment.
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