Mercedes-Benz venture into the world of mid-size premium SUVs started in the 2000s when it launched the GLK – a model that was bizarrely never engineered for right-hand-drive markets, which meant it was never introduced to the UK.
But when the time came to replace the GLK with the GLC in 2015, it was a no-brainer to bring this model to the UK. It’s now one of the firm’s best-selling models on these shores, and to ensure it remains competitive, Mercedes-Benz has given the model a mid-life facelift.
From the outside, there aren’t really many changes – the eagle-eyed will spot the new LED headlights and rear lights, along with additional chrome detailing. Inside the GLC features a much larger central screen, along with a new trackpad – each helping the model to feel more modern. It still doesn’t get the latest twin digital display that you’ll find in all-new Mercedes-Benz models – the A-Class, for example – but it’s certainly a welcome change.
Alongside these changes, the GLC also benefits from a number of new four-cylinder engines, which promise both better performance and lower running costs than the units they replace.
At launch there are two diesel engines to choose from, and it’s the more powerful option that’s in our GLC 300 d test car. Featuring a 2.0-litre unit making 242bhp and 500Nm of torque, the GLC is capable of a top speed of 143mph and a 0-60mph time of 6.3 seconds. Fuel economy is far from remarkable, though – Mercedes-Benz promising 39.2mpg, along with CO2 emissions of 157g/km.
While delivering decent performance, these models are at their best when driven leisurely. We can only criticise this engine for not quite offering the refinement you might expect from a premium SUV.
A lower GLC 220d offers 191bhp, while if you’d prefer something petrol-powered there is the GLC 300, which delivered 254bhp from its 2.0-litre petrol unit. A pair of Mercedes-AMG models are also available if you fancy something with a bit more poke.
Ride and handling
It’s largely comfortable, too, though our AMG Line car’s 19-inch alloy wheels contribute slightly to a firmer ride that could prove to be irritating on rougher roads. It’s hard to criticise for wind and road noise, with both these being kept to a minimum, even at higher speeds.See Available GLC deals
Interior and equipment
Pre-facelift, it was the GLC’s interior that was really starting to show its age and letting the side down, but thankfully Mercedes-Benz has addressed this issue with this model. The new infotainment screen is both wider and more intuitive, while a new digital instrument cluster elevates the appeal.
It’s also just as premium as you might expect a Mercedes-Benz SUV to be – high quality materials are used throughout, while there is just enough digitalisation throughout the cabin to bring it up to 2019 levels. The GLC also scores on the spaciousness front – making it an ideal family car with its generous passenger and boot space. It’s strictly a five-seat model, though, so consider a Land Rover Discovery Sport if you’re looking for something with seven seats.
The range kicks off with the GLC Sport, which comes as standard with self-parking capability, 18-inch alloy wheels, a 10.25-inch touchscreen, LED headlights and heated front seats to name but a few features.
Most buyers will choose the AMG Line grade, which adds 19-inch alloy wheels, AMG bodystyling and sports seats. Upgrading to the AMG Line Premium package brings a digital instrument cluster, 64-colour ambient lighting, wireless charging and an augmented reality sat-nav. AMG Line Premium Plus then features a panoramic sunroof, keyless entry and start and a Burmester sound system, while the top-spec Ultimate gains revised 20-inch alloys and adaptive air suspension.
The GLC is very competitively priced next to its key rivals from Audi and BMW, with prices starting from £40,620, with the popular AMG Line starting from £42,730. At both those prices, the GLC is an appealing proposition, however as you rise up the trim levels, the ‘Premium’ and ‘Ultimate’ models begin to look quite expensive.
The facelift GLC treads a fine line between a saloon and an SUV – offering that high-riding driving position but without sacrificing on driving feel. Small changes have also made the model look even more handsome, while it’s the interior that has really been brought up to scratch.
While the GLC might not quite be class-leading next to the BMW X3 and Land Rover Discovery Sport, it’s still a premium SUV that offers loads of appeal, and it’s an easy SUV to recommend.