Mercedes GLC is the brand’s best-selling car worldwide, Stuttgart having sold 2.6 million units since 2008 (including the GLK-Class predecessor). The new one picks up where the old GLC left, hoping to further establish itself in the all-important mid-size premium SUV market.
Once again, it will have to compete with some excellent rivals including the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and the Volvo XC60, but further afield, even pure-electric SUVs such as the Audi Q4 e-tron, Tesla Model Y and Kia EV6 have all encroached on the GLC’s market.
To make sure the new GLC has the tools in its armoury to stay competitive, Mercedes has given every model some form of electrification, starting out with 48-volt mild-hybrid then a duo of plug-in hybrid powertrains that offer over 62 miles of electric range. There’s no all-electric version of the new GLC; the EQC SUV (which sits on the same platform as the old GLC) will continue in that role for a little longer before a new bespoke electric SUV replaces it.
Moving to Mercedes’ newer MRA2 platform shared with the C-Class, the German firm has penned an evolutionary design update for this big-selling SUV. It has grown in size, but only fractionally, so it’s still a direct rival for cars such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and the Volvo XC60.
The redesigned front end adopts the brand’s latest design language. New-look headlights now blend into the front grille, finished with a striking look on AMG Line models that makes use of a Mercedes three-pointed star pattern. A sporty looking front apron also features on AMG Line cars, with an off-road-inspired chrome-edged front end on other models.
In profile the GLC’s design features new contour lines, while body-coloured wheel arch trim is now available for the first time ever on the GLC, housing wheels ranging from 18 inches to 20 inches in diameter.
The rear-end design is familiar, evolved gently over the current model. Further differentiation can be optioned via the choice of running boards – and for AMG Line models and above a Night styling package introduces black exterior detailing.
At 4,716mm long, the new GLC is 60mm longer than the old model, while the car is 4mm lower. The track widths front and rear expand by 6mm and 23mm respectively, but across the body the new model is actually no wider than its predecessor.
A lot of the new car’s extra length is due to a longer rear overhang – a move Mercedes claims benefits practicality, with a boot that’s now 50 litres larger than before, at 600 litres with the rear seats in place. All versions come with a powered tailgate as standard.
Inside, the GLC takes on a C-Class-inspired revolution. The ageing interior of the old model has been brought right up to date and the new look makes use of a ‘wing’-like dashboard design with a large, curved centre console. An 11.9-inch portrait oriented touchscreen and a string of touch-sensitive switchgear, angled towards the driver, also feature.
Within the string of buttons is a fingerprint scanner, enabling different drivers to log in to their own personalised MBUX profile. The MBUX touchscreen is also compatible with over-the-air software updates, keeping vehicle systems and functions up to date. This capability also allows new optional features to be installed on the car by purchasing them in the Mercedes Me Store app.
In front of the driver is a configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, which can be supported by an optional head-up display. Further new infotainment features include Newsflash, which extends the Mercedes Me voice assistant’s features to include personalised news bulletins from a selection of news sources, read aloud by the assistant on request.
From launch, there will be two trim levels of the GLC. An Avantgarde model will kick off the range with slightly more subdued exterior styling, where the higher-spec AMG Line model brings a sportier look and larger alloy wheels as standard.
All versions of the new GLC are fitted with a nine-speed automatic transmission and Mercedes’ 4MATIC four-wheel drive system as standard, while power comes exclusively from a line-up of turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines. Petrol and diesel models with 48-volt assistance are joined by a the three-strong plug-in hybrid offering, but no AMG versions of the newcomer have been confirmed just yet.
A selection of driving modes will also be available, making it possible to tweak the powertrain, steering and even the engine noise omitted from speakers (which can be turned off). Mercedes says its AIRMATIC adaptive suspension won’t be coming to the UK – we’ll only get a fixed multi-link suspension set up.
The petrol line-up kicks off with the GLC 200 4MATIC, developing 201bhp and 320Nm. However, a more potent option is available in the form of the GLC 300 4MATIC, with 254bhp and 400Nm. Both offer claimed CO2 emissions from 167g/km and fuel economy of 32.2mpg. The diesel range consists of the 220 d 4MATIC model, with 194bhp and 440Nm. CO2 from 136g/km is claimed and as you’d expect, it’s more frugal than its petrol siblings, with up to 45.2mpg on offer.
These three versions of the GLC all come with a new, second-generation version of Mercedes’ 48-volt mild hybrid tech, but the level of electrical assistance is still minor. Electric-only running isn’t possible, and instead the system enables seamless engine-off coasting at speed and an electric boost of up to 23bhp, which can help reduce the load on the engine under hard acceleration.
However, it’s the new plug-in hybrid technology that really advances this new GLC’s powertrain offerings. There’s one petrol-powered model and a plug-in diesel option. Both use the same 31kWh battery alongside an electric motor producing 134bhp and 440Nm torque. Mercedes claims that each model can cover more than 62 miles on battery power alone and can travel at speeds of up to 87mph without using the engine. It also has hinted that up to 81 miles of pure-electric running could even be possible.
The GLC 300 e 4MATIC uses the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine as the GLC 200, rated at 201bhp. Combined with the electric motor, maximum output stands at 309bhp and 550Nm. A more powerful petrol plug-in option exists in the form of the GLC 400 e 4MATIC, which has 376bhp and 650Nm, enabling 0-62mph in 5.6 seconds. These petrol plug-in hybrid models both offered claimed CO2 emissions from 14g/km, and combined with their all-electric range will sit in the eight per cent Benefit-in-Kind taxation band for 2022-23.
Mercedes has carved out a niche among premium brands for offering diesel plug-in power alongside petrol PHEV options, and the new GLC continues this tradition with the 300 de 4MATIC. A turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engine is combined with the same battery and motor tech as its petrol-electric counterparts for a combined output of 242bhp and 750Nm. CO2 is claimed from 13g/km, again qualifying the diesel for the eight per cent BiK tax band rating.
Official claimed fuel economy stands at 564.9mpg. That’s not a typo, but more reflective of how the large battery dominates proceedings during WLTP testing, and the petrol plug-ins come with similarly outlandish official fuel economy claims. Nonetheless, keeping the battery topped up and the GLC running frequently on electricity should see these three models easily stand out as the most frugal and efficient options in the line-up.
Prices are yet to be confirmed, but expect the new GLC range to kick off from around £46,000 when it goes on sale later this year.