Believe it or not, the Mercedes-Benz GLC is the brand’s best-selling model. It was in 2018, and it will be again in 2019.
That’s not just for Australia - it’s a global trend, with mid-sized SUVs hitting the sweet spot for buyers of all shapes and sizes in different markets all over the planet.
It’s important, then, that the facelifted GLC range brings something more to the table than its predecessor, which went on sale back in 2015. And it does - by way of additional tech and features, and revised powertrains. It competes with the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, the Volvo XC60, and the Range Rover Velar among others.
Yes, you can still get it in the form of an SUV or a Coupe - the latter of which appeals to one in six buyers enough to buy one. Why? I’ll never know. The Coupe model goes toe to toe with the BMW X4.
Let’s take a closer look at the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC range in a bit more detail. We got to drive it in Germany before it arrives in Australia late in 2019.
The redesign of the Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV and Coupe models is modest - this isn’t an exaggerated mid-life cycle change, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the GLC has forged a reputation both on its substance, and its style.
It still looks pretty good to me… well, the SUV does. The Coupe-SUV is a concept I’ve never really grasped, but I can’t deny the popularity of the more expensive, less practical, less attractive versions of the GLC.
The regular GLC SUV adopts a “sportier” appearance as part of the update.
Mercedes says the regular SUV models adopt a “sportier” appearance as part of the update, with new LED daytime running lights to frame the new standard full-LED headlights, and there’s a revised grille and bumper, depending on the model. Versions with the AMG trim line will have the “diamond” grille which now has more of an ‘A’ shape rather than a ‘V’ design.
The standard versions get new grille designs and new bumpers too, both front and rear. At the back there are also redesigned LED tail-lights and additional chrome, which you’ll find a common theme on the outside of the revised model.
The GLC Coupe models see similar design changes - a redesigned front bumper (with the diamond look as standard), redesigned headlights and tail-lights and a subtler rear bumper with a new diffuser and exhaust garnish.
The revised cabin of the GLC doesn’t set any new standards, but the updates will help it compete a little better with the plusher, newer BMW X3.
New additions to the GLC interior include MBUX and multimedia system, consisting of two high-resolution digital screens: the first being a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and the second a tablet on top of the middle of the dash that manages major controls and media.
The 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system (expected to be standard in Australia) has the "Hey Mercedes" voice control system. The brand has made a big deal about this system, which also has an Artificial Intelligence element to it, meaning it’ll learn your habits, and aim to please you more and more over time.
It’d want to get better the longer you spend with it, because it takes a bit of learning, as there’s a lot of complexity to the way the menus and sub-menus are laid out. Sure, you’re probably supposed to use voice control a lot, but there is some lag time to contend with, not to mention inconsistency.
The 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system can be managed by a central touchpad between the front seats.
The screen and controls can also be managed by a central touchpad between the front seats, the screen itself, or the tiny little touchpad on the steering wheel. And yes, it looks a bit classier now - and the displays are crisp - but it feels a bit like new paint applied to an old door.
If you dig practicality as much me (high five!) there are big cup holders up front and in the back, bottle holders in all four doors, and good storage for loose items. You can expect rear vents.
I’m 182cm, or six-feet tall, and in the SUV model I was able to slot behind the driver’s seat with it set in my own position, and I had good headroom, legroom and toeroom. It’s an airy and broad feeling back seat, but there is a large transmission tunnel to contend with, and the door sills themselves are quite intrusive, with a narrow section at the base of the door meaning people with big feet like me (size 12) might feel a bit clumsy getting in and out.
There's good head, leg and toeroom in the rear seats.
Because of the raked roof line of the Coupe, it is better suited to smaller adults or children, because you need to watch your head getting in and out, and headroom is limited if you’re taller and sitting up straight.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?
Mercedes-Benz Australia hasn’t yet announced full pricing and spec details for the updated GLC range, and we won’t know what is included, what is optional and what we miss out on until later this year.
But we can offer up some estimates of where the models might sit when they arrive, based on the existing models, and how they’ll be equipped when they get here, too.
If Australia gets the line-up that CarsGuide believes is likely, the entry-level model will be the GLC 200, listing at about $65,000 for the SUV model. All prices here are estimates only - educated guesses, you might say.
The next model up could be the GLC 300, in both SUV ($72,000) and Coupe ($77,000) guises.
And the diesel version - the GLC 300d - is expected to be offered in the SUV ($79,000) and Coupe ($85,000)
Standard gear on all models will include LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, 19-inch wheels, leather steering wheel, leather seat trim (300 and 300d - 200 likely to get fake leather), electric front seat adjustment, the new MBUX screens (12.3-inch instrument cluster, 10.1-inch media), sat nav, cruise control, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and more.
The 10.1-inch media screen controls the sat nav, digital radio, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It is expected that the new model will be available with optional adaptive dampers at about $1500 or the choice of air suspension ($2500).
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?
The GLC range includes a range of petrol and diesel engines, but for Australia, there are a few models that are likely to be offered.
The first is the GLC 200, which has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol-turbo engine with 145kW of power and 280Nm of torque. The figures are close to the existing GLC200 RWD base model (135kW/300Nm), but there's an electric boost system for the new engine.
The GLC 200 (and GLC 300 above it) feature the brand’s new 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which gives it the ability to cut the engine when coasting, while also adding up to 150Nm of extra torque at times.
The same 2.0-litre petrol engine has a beefier tune in the GLC 300 model, which pushes out a strong 190kW of power and 370Nm of torque.
And the diesel version we’re likely to get is the 300d, which has 180kW of power and 500Nm of torque. Diesel sales are down dramatically since 2015 - back then diesel accounted for 50 per cent of sales in Australia, but now that figure is closer to 20 per cent. That leads us to believe the range will be rationalised from two oil-burners in the current line-up (250d and 350d) to one.
To begin with, all models sold in Australia will be offered with 4Matic all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission. The current range includes an entry-level rear-wheel drive (GLC 200), but no replacement version has been announced as yet.
Want more performance? There’s the range-topping AMG 63 model, while an AMG 43 replacement is also expected, though not yet revealed.
We only got the chance to spent time on the road in the new GLC 300 model, which is likely to replace the popular GLC 250 in Australia.
The road loop we sampled the car on consisted mainly of flowing freeway/autobahn sections, a little bit of urban driving, and a short stint in some corners that included surfaces that put most Australian race tracks to shame. They were that smooth.
And every GLC 300 we drove had the air suspension system fitted, so we can’t really say how it will handle Aussie-standard bumps and lumps. In this specification, the car was really quite pleasant - not too floaty, but soft enough to live up to the Comfort mode designation chosen. In Sport things were a little firmer, but still with a touch of body roll noticeable in corners. If you want a corner carving horsepower hero, it’s worth considering the GLC 63 AMG model... provided the budget allows.
We can’t really say how the GLC will handle Aussie-standard bumps and lumps.
The steering in the GLC 300 was light and predictable, if lacking much in the way of enjoyment - but for a family SUV that deals more with car parks and parallel manoeuvres, it will likely be a competent and confident option.
The engine itself was quiet and refined for the most part, building pace with ease and stepping away from a halt with enough eagerness to please the vast majority of customers.
While the addition of the new 48-volt system is clearly advantageous to initial pull-away power, it wasn’t necessarily seamless. On a few occasions we noticed some confusion from the powertrain, including hesitance from coasting to on-throttle. We even noted some shunting from the nine-speed auto transmission, which was quite un-Mercedes-like.
For those who want an off road review, we got a chance to put the 300d model through its paces under the instruction of advisors at the ADAC off-road park outside Frankfurt. The purpose-built course incorporated 36-degree side-angle driving, a deep rutted slalom course with plenty of articulation, a muddy creek crossing, and a log bridge crossing (where the optional 360-degree camera with active steering guidance lines was the difference between lining it up right or ending up on the roof 2.5 metres below).
The GLC 300d we drove off-road featured the Off Road Package.
The GLC 300d was surprisingly adept at each instance. Even up a 60-degree climb the AWD system was measured and managed the acceleration input I gave it very well.
The cool thing about the versions we drove off-road was the Off Road Package, which included more advanced telemetry, optional air suspension, an optional off road body kit to improve the off road specs of the GLC, and a pair of off-road modes (one for general unsealed driving, the other for more serious stuff with a speed limit of 45km/h, re-calibrated acceleration and gearing, and even headlights that offer a wider, shorter spread for low-speed driving in dark surrounds).
If you’re wondering about the off-road specs, the ground clearance (mm) is up to 245mm with the air suspension raised, while the approach angle is rated at 30.8 degrees and the departure angle at 24.9deg.
We got a chance to put the 300d model through its paces under the instruction of advisors at the ADAC off-road park outside Frankfurt.
The GLC 300d was surprisingly adept off-road.
The purpose-built course incorporated 36-degree side-angle driving.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?
ANCAP safety rating
The GLC range was awarded the highest possible five-star ANCAP crash test rating in 2015. Since then the standards have moved on, and it won’t be retested. However, that is unlikely to be a large deterrent because the range comes loaded with safety equipment and technology.
Service intervals are every 12 months or 25,000km, whichever occurs first - very generous - and the brand offers pre-pay or pay-as-you-go servicing across its model range, and pricing varies between the two. Upfront cover for three years is $2150, while PAYG is $2700. If you want to prepay for four years or five, you can - the costs are $2950 / $4650 respectively.
These costs cover the regular scheduled servicing (including brake fluid, air, cabin and fuel filters, spark plugs and coolant) but consumables like brake pads and discs and wiper blades will incur additional fees.