DRIVEN | Mercedes-Benz upgrades its GLC

Mercedes-Benz is responding to customers who require more features in a smaller SUV package.

Although it was the original GLE (launched as the ML), which established Mercedes-Benz’s luxury SUV product line in the late 1990s, customers are now looking to buy-down. This means a migration from GLE to GLC.

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The market for luxury SUVs in the pricing bandwidth between R800k and R1m is very competitive and Mercedes-Benz has launched a facelift of its first-generation GLC to counter the BMW X3.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC

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Structurally and mechanically there are no significant changes. The GLC still rides on a platform it shares with the current C-Class and is powered by a range of turbocharged 2.0-litre engines.

The notable upgrades are confined to some styling details and improved cabin digitisation. Mercedes-Benz’s designers have reshaped the GLC’s front bumper, with more rectangular ducts, and the grille detailing is new too.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC

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There are also smaller LED headlights than before and around the rear, GLC’s light clusters are more rectangular-shaped. GLC’s exhausts are now framed by a trapezoidal outline too, which sharpens the SUV’s rear design, as opposed to the rounder exhaust ports it launched with it in 2016.

Sitting in the driver’s seat you grip a redesigned steering wheel, with a collection of new satellite control to manage the flood of infotainment options.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC

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Mercedes-Benz’s latest MBUK system in available in GLC and pairs seamlessly with your Smartphone. The GLC has nearly 100-litres more bootspace than a C-Class, but it remains only a five-seater.

If you want a compact Mercedes-Benz seven-seater SUV, you’ll have to wait for GLB, which is due to arrive in South Africa during 2020. 

Four-cylinder engines for performance and economy

As mentioned before, all Mercedes-Benz GLCs are powered by four-cylinder engine, totalling 2-litres of swept capacity. The turbodiesel options are GLC220d (140kW/400Nm) and GLC300d (180kW/500Nm).

Customers who prefer petrol can choose the GLC300, which boosts 190kW and 370Nm. Mercedes-Benz’s 4Matic system ensures all-wheel drive traction in all the new GLC variants and the performance-to-economy ratio is managed by a nine-speed automatic transmission.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC

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The GLC might be an SUV suited to extensive gravel travel and daily urban commuting, but the more potent 300-badged versions are very quick vehicles. Mercedes-Benz claims the GLC300d will run 0-100kph in 6.5 seconds, with the GLC300 petrol three tenths of a second faster to the acceleration benchmark.

If you seek a GLC with extensive range potential, that will be the 220d derivative, which should return diesel consumption just below 6l/100km at cruising speeds. 

Go anywhere C-Class station wagon 

Mercedes-Benz’s GLC is effectively an all-wheel drive C-Class with a third ground clearance. It drives with all the aplomb you’d expect from Mercedes-Benz’s compact sedan. To mitigate against the additional bodyroll and brake dive, due to its higher centre of gravity, Mercedes-Benz offers an upgrade over the standard steel coil spring and adaptive damper suspension set-up. You can choose to equip your new GLC with air-suspension, which revolutionises ride quality on all surfaces and gives it excellent dynamic balance.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC

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Two small details will be of proportionally significant importance to South African GLC customers. Mercedes-Benz’s product and marketing people have chosen to fit a standard tow bar and full-size spare wheel to the facelifted GLC. For those customers who are keen to use mountain bike carrier racks, the presence of a factory fitted towbar will be very welcome.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC

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And for any GLC owner who is ever going to do some gravel road travelling, having a full-size spare wheel under the rear luggage floor, will give great peace of mind.

Pricing for the upgraded GLC range starts at R786 100, for the 220d 4Matic, increasing to R825 100 for its more powerful 300d 4Matic sibling.

Mercedes-Benz’s GLC range peaks at R842 800 for the 300 4Matic, although its pricing prominence will be supplanted in time, as AMG variants are added.