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Mercedes-Benz GLC300 2023 review

The new GLC is lower and longer - and sleeker - than the model it replaces.

Mercedes-Benz was a bit late to the medium SUV party in Australia.

That’s because the original Benz mid-sizer, the GLK, was not sold in Australia. Cut to late 2016 and the German giant introduced the GLC, a C-Class-based SUV that was a direct rival for the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 - both of which were already familiar to buyers. 

The GLC was not a bad car by any stretch, it just lacked flair. Now the second-generation version has arrived, but it also faces some challenges because only one variant is being offered, for now. Can Benz reach the same number of buyers, and is the new GLC a better proposition than the original?

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Price and features – Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Mercedes-Benz is taking a bit of a gamble with the new-generation GLC. From launch, it is offering just one grade - the petrol-powered GLC300.

In the previous version, you could buy a diesel, a plug-in hybrid, a base petrol GLC200 grade, at one point there was a mid-range GLC250, the GLC300 and of course, a pair of AMG performance models.

The yet-to-be-revealed AMG versions will be added to the line-up, as will the swoopy GLC Coupe, with the latter expected to mirror the grades of the more practical SUV body style.

The petrol-powered GLC300 is the only grade that is being offered by Mercedes-Benz. The petrol-powered GLC300 is the only grade that is being offered by Mercedes-Benz.

But launching with one grade is ambitious! Good thing Benz has packed the GLC300 with standard gear. 

On that, it’s nice to see a premium German brand offering this level of standard features. For a long time all three major brands - Audi, BMW and Mercedes - left out key features that should be standard. But now it seems they are listening to what buyers want.

The GLC300 is priced at $103,370 before on-road costs, which is more than $10,000 over and above what you would have paid for a previous-generation GLC300. But you get a much more modern car with a lot more equipment for that.

The GLC300 wears a price tag of $103,370 before on-road costs. The GLC300 wears a price tag of $103,370 before on-road costs.

Features that were options on the previous GLC300, such as a panoramic sunroof, head-up display, heated front seats, and AMG Line exterior and interior, are standard on the new model.

As well as an advanced mild hybrid petrol powertrain, and more safety gear (see section below), the GLC300 comes with 20-inch alloy wheels, electronic front seat adjustment, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, 11.9-inch MBUX multimedia setup, wireless Apple CarPlay, power tailgate, woodgrain trim and more.

It also gets what Benz calls a transparent bonnet, which is handy during light off-roading as the camera display reveals obstacles under or in front of the SUV. Neat!

The GLC300 comes with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 11.9-inch MBUX multimedia setup. The GLC300 comes with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 11.9-inch MBUX multimedia setup.

In fact, it’s so well specified that there’s only one options package available. The Plus Package costs $6900 and adds MBUX augmented reality sat-nav, Burmester 3D surround sound system, heat and noise-insulating acoustic glass, adaptive high-beams and ‘Digital Light’, extra driver assist functions and increased security. 

You can also opt for a different set of rims ($1000) or two special Manufaktur colours ($1500).

In terms of rivals you can count the likes of the Audi Q5 45 TFSI, the BMW X3 xDrive30i, and the Porsche Macan T - all of which are cheaper than the GLC.

  • The Plus Package adds adaptive high-beams and ‘Digital Light’ to the GLC300. The Plus Package adds adaptive high-beams and ‘Digital Light’ to the GLC300.
  • The Plus Package also adds a Burmester 3D surround sound system. The Plus Package also adds a Burmester 3D surround sound system.
  • The GLC300 wears 20-inch alloy wheels. The GLC300 wears 20-inch alloy wheels.
  • The panoramic sunroof that was once an optional extra is now standard in the new GLC300. The panoramic sunroof that was once an optional extra is now standard in the new GLC300.
  • The GLC300 comes with parking assistance. The GLC300 comes with parking assistance.
  • Tech features in the GLC300 includes a wireless charging pad. Tech features in the GLC300 includes a wireless charging pad.

Design – Is there anything interesting about its design?

A side-by-side pic of the original GLC reveals that the design of the new version is an evolution.

This has been a Benz trend of late - sharpening up the design of a new-gen car without shaking things up too much.

The side profile highlights the extra length - it’s been stretched by 60mm over the old model - and it sits slightly lower too. It’s definitely more visually appealing and sleeker than the original.

  • The GLC300 is more visually appealing and sleeker than the original. The GLC300 is more visually appealing and sleeker than the original.
  • The AMG Line exterior flourishes elevate the exterior look over the entry grades of the previous GLC300. The AMG Line exterior flourishes elevate the exterior look over the entry grades of the previous GLC300.
  • The side profile highlights the GLC300's extra length. The side profile highlights the GLC300's extra length.
  • The new GLC300 sits slightly lower than the previous version. The new GLC300 sits slightly lower than the previous version.

The body-coloured wheel arches and AMG Line exterior flourishes elevate the exterior look over the entry grades of the previous model.

Inside, it will be very familiar to anyone who has seen the cabin of a current-generation Benz - especially the C-Class with which it shares many of its underpinnings.

Elements like the cool air vent design, higher-end materials, ambient lighting, thick AMG Line steering wheel and lashings of chrome ensure that the interior looks and feels much more expensive than the cabin of the previous entry grade GLC200, which to me felt cheap.

Inside the GLC300's will be familiar to anyone who has seen the cabin of a current-generation Benz. Inside the GLC300's will be familiar to anyone who has seen the cabin of a current-generation Benz.

Practicality – How practical is its space and tech inside?

That extra length means a longer wheelbase (it’s up by 15mm), and while there is a slight boost to occupant space, the biggest change is to boot space. More on that in a bit.

Up front, there is ample space in both seats, and they offer excellent levels of support. It has the expected upright seating position of an SUV and visibility is good.

The chunky steering wheel is a little too thick for my tastes but the controls on the wheel are easy to identify. 

Up front of the GLC300 is ample space and support in both front seats. Up front of the GLC300 is ample space and support in both front seats.

Benz’s customisable digital instrument display is top notch and the separate multimedia takes some adjustment, but MBUX has been improved consistently over the years and despite more functionality, is relatively easy to navigate.

The central bin is sizable and the console houses USB ports and nooks, while the door storage space is huge! Big bottles will fit and there’s extra space for other larger items.

The second row features a high window line that could be a challenge for little kids to see out of. But there are USB ports under a flap at the rear of the console, map pockets, decent door storage, ISOFIX points on the outboard seats, and a fold-down armrest with an awkward pop-out cupholder setup.

The second row of the GLC300 features ISOFIX points on the outboard seats. The second row of the GLC300 features ISOFIX points on the outboard seats.

Rear seats can be folded in a 40:20:40 fashion.

Open the power tailgate and you’ll be greeted with a sizeable 620-litre boot that can take 50 litres more than the old GLC.

And a fair bit more than the X3's 550L capacity. And there is even a temporary spare wheel under the boot floor if you get stuck with a cooked tyre.

  • The GLC300 has a boot capacity of 620-litres. The GLC300 has a boot capacity of 620-litres.
  • The GLC300's rear seats can be folded in a 40:20:40 fashion. The GLC300's rear seats can be folded in a 40:20:40 fashion.
  • The GLC300 comes with a power tailgate. The GLC300 comes with a power tailgate.

Under the bonnet – What are the key stats for its engine and transmission?

Under the sculpted bonnet of the GLC300 is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, with outputs of 190kW of power and 400Nm of torque.

These are very close to the figures of the equivalent Porsche Macan T.

If you’re after something with a bit more spice, you’ll need to wait for the anticipated AMG versions that likely won’t arrive until 2024.

Under the GLC300's bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. Under the GLC300's bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine.

Like a number of recently launched European models, the GLC300 features a 48-volt mild hybrid setup, which Benz says allows for gliding and recuperation, and improved power.

The GLC300 engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission driving all four wheels via Benz’s 4Matic all-wheel drive system.

Completing the 0-100km/h dash in the GLC300 takes 6.2 seconds. 

The GLC300 has total outputs of 190kW of power and 400Nm of torque. The GLC300 has total outputs of 190kW of power and 400Nm of torque.

Efficiency – What is its fuel consumption? What is its driving range?

According to Mercedes-Benz, the GLC300 will consume 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle. That figure represents an improvement on the 8.2-litre figure of the previous-generation GLC300. CO2 emissions are rated at 175 grams per kilometre.

On our launch drive that took us through country Victoria and outer suburban Melbourne, we recorded 8.1L, which is not too far off the stated figure.

The GLC has a 62 litre fuel tank.

The GLC300 will consume 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle. The GLC300 will consume 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined cycle.

Driving – What's it like to drive?

The last time I drove a GLC it was the previous-generation model and it was either the GLC200 or GLC250 petrol. Either way, it underwhelmed. It wasn’t bad, it was just a bit… meh.

Thankfully, Mercedes has made improvements across the board and the results are, largely, positive. 

The 2.0-litre turbo-petrol unit is responsive enough, but it won’t have the hair standing up on the back of your neck. I found acceleration quite laggy initially, but after switching off the engine auto start/stop function it was immediately more responsive from a standing start.

The Plus Package adds MBUX augmented reality sat-nav. The Plus Package adds MBUX augmented reality sat-nav.

It has more grunt further up the rev range when you are already at speed and need an extra push. As a result, you’ll feel confident when you need to overtake.

The transmission is a smooth match for the engine, and the steering is sharp enough for a family SUV.

The GLC’s ride height is noticeable when navigating tight bends at speed, but it does a good job of remaining planted to the ground.

The transmission is a smooth match for the GLC300's engine. The transmission is a smooth match for the GLC300's engine.

This was evident on the launch drive route. It was a miserable mid-winter day and the roads were particularly wet. On a notorious sweeping uphill bend, the GLC’s grip - and traction control - was very impressive. 

As well as looking and feeling more high end, the GLC300’s cabin is quieter too, adding to that premium vibe. Aside from when you encounter rough coarse chip road surfaces, it’s a hushed interior.

Ride quality is good, too - it takes a sizeable pothole to disturb the peace. 

The GLC’s grip - and traction control - was very impressive.  The GLC’s grip - and traction control - was very impressive. 

Safety – What safety equipment is fitted? What is its safety rating?

Crash safety authority ANCAP awarded the GLC a maximum five-star rating in 2022, and it was praised for excellent adult, and child occupant protection.

It gets the usual suite of active safety gear like auto emergency braking, adaptive cruise control with distance control and lane keeping systems, as well as a front centre airbag.

It also comes with blind spot monitoring, front, rear and side cameras, forward collision warning, parking assistance and occupant accident protection.

The GLC scored a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2022. The GLC scored a maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2022.

Ownership – What warranty is offered? What are its service intervals? What are its running costs?

The GLC comes with Mercedes’ five-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty, which is finally becoming the norm in the premium segment. BMW recently increased its to five years, but Porsche still trails with three years.

Servicing intervals are generous at 25,000km or one year, whichever occurs first.

You can purchase three years of capped-price servicing for your GLC, which costs about $3000 - or you can add another two services on top of that for extra.

The GLC comes with Mercedes’ five-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty. The GLC comes with Mercedes’ five-year unlimited kilometre factory warranty.


The Wrap

The new GLC may not represent a seismic shift over the previous-gen model, but that’s OK, because there have been meaningful improvements made to every element of this car. From interior quality and comfort, to efficiency, performance and ride quality.

It all adds up to a much more appealing model than its predecessor, and one that feels like a much more worthy competitor to those impressive rivals.

Likes

Big improvements over the previous GLC
Interior design and quality
Multimedia and digital tech

Dislikes

Only one variant available - for now
High opening price
Engine could have a bit more punch

Scores

Tim:

3.9

The Kids:

3.9

$89,800 - $106,800

Based on 49 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

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