Mercedes GLC (2016-2022) Review
A smooth ride and stylish interior make the Mercedes GLC a luxurious family SUV
Strengths & weaknesses
- Relaxing to drive
- Classy and welcoming interior
- Strong practicality
- Expensive to buy
- Not as sporting as competition
- Expensive options
Mercedes GLC prices from £17,789 Finance from £314.06 per month
The Mercedes GLC sits in one of the most congested parts of the car market - the premium medium SUV class. Effectively this is populated with upmarket, family-sized off-roader type models such as the Audi Q5, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Lexus NX and Volvo XC60 to name but a few. Prices for the GLC range from around £40,000 to an eye-watering near-£90,000.
There are two GLC models to choose from - a standard version and a low-roofed GLC Coupe. We’ll concentrate on the former here.
In its standard guise the GLC is a reasonably spacious and practical car. With the rear seats in place the Mercedes has a useful 550-litre boot, while folding the rear bench flat liberates 1600-litres of space. Those figures place it somewhere in the middle of the class, with the Volvo XC60 accommodating just 505-litres, while the Jaguar F-Pace features a vast 650-litre boot. On the plus side, all versions of the GLC get a powered tailgate for easy opening and closing when you’re hands are full.
Passengers are equally well catered for, with substantial head and legroom for those sitting in the back. There’s plenty of space up front too, with the driver getting a wide range of seat and wheel adjustment, while the raised ride height provides a commanding view of the road. And because it’s aimed at families, the Mercedes has enough handy storage, including a large glovebox, deep door bins and a large lidded cubby between the front seats.
As you’d expect from a Mercedes, the quality of the interior is first rate. Soft touch materials are used throughout, while the fit and finish are exemplary. Even the brand’s trademark Artico artificial leather seat trim looks and feels convincing.
There’s also plenty of technology, with the GLC getting the latest MBUX 10.3-inch touchscreen media system that debuted in the smaller A-Class hatchback. Not only does it feature crisp graphics and an easy to use layout, it also comes with the ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice control function. It works remarkably well, although it can sometimes prove a little too sensitive, firing into life when it hears a word that sounds only vaguely like ‘Mercedes’.
Premium models and above add the 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, which can be configured depending on your mood and the car’s driving mode. Also included is an augmented reality sat-nav that overlays direction arrows and road names onto an image from the front facing camera to show you which exits to take. It’s surprisingly effective and can reduce the confusion at tricky junctions.
Mercedes has always been at the forefront of safety technology, so it’s no surprise to find the GLC has been handed a full five-star crash rating by European car safety organisation Euro NCAP. All versions get a raft of airbags, autonomous emergency braking and a driver tiredness system that monitors your driving and recommends taking a break if you get a little erratic.
On top of this little lot is the optional Driving Assistant, which adds adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring. It’s a worthwhile extra, but sadly not available on the entry-level Sport. Another high-tech addition is the head-up display, which beams driving information onto the windscreen, so you don't have to take your eyes off the road.
On the road the Mercedes is a refined and relaxing companion. While rivals models, such as the BMW X3 and Jaguar F-Pace, try to inject some excitement into the driving experience, the GLC is happy just to waft along quietly at its own pace. Models with air suspension are particularly impressive in this regard, the soft suspension effortlessly soaking up bumps.
That’s not to say the Mercedes can’t be hustled through corners. The steering is direct and naturally weighted, there’s good grip and effective control of body roll. And of course there’s always the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 performance models, which can cover ground at an alarming rate, their uprated suspension making them feel more nimble and agile than any car weighing nearly two tonnes has any right to be.
If you ever head off road, this Mercedes is more capable than most drivers will ever need, particularly with air suspension, which allows you to raise the ride height by 50mm. In combination with a new traction control system that has separate off road settings, it delivers the sort of assured performance you normally expect from a Land Rover.
Ultimately, the GLC is a car perfectly targeted at buyers who want a comfortable, luxurious and refined family car with an upmarket image.
|Tax £210 to £2135 in first year, £145 to £465 (first five years) thereafter
Best Mercedes-Benz GLC for...
Best for Economy – Mercedes GLC 300e 4MATIC
The latest plug-hybrid model blows every other GLC variant out of the water when it comes to fuel economy and emissions figures. It's not slow either, so you'll be getting the best of both worlds here.
Best for Families – Mercedes GLC 220d 4MATIC Sport
The smallest alloy wheels make for most comfortable ride on standard suspension - with more rubber and less metal between you and the road - while the interior is roomy.
Best for Performance – Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 S 4MATIC+ -
Bellowing 503hp V8 engine delivers scorching performance, while uprated suspension means it can handle the power.
Sep 2015 Mercedes GLC makes it debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show
Feb 2016 GLC arrives in UK showrooms in 220d and 250d guises with a 2.1-litre diesel, plus 250 2.0-litre petrol
Jul 2016 More powerful 350d joins the line-up, with a larger, more refined 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel engine
Mar 2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC 43 arrives with 335hp 3.0-litre petrol V6
Nov 2017 Extremely rapid Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 and 63 S arrive, with hefty 4.0-litre eight-cylinder engines
Jun 2019 Facelifted car gets revised interior tech and new 2.0-litre 220d and 300d diesel engines. Mercedes-AMG 63 and 63 S also updated
Sep 2019 Plug-in hybrid GLC 300e is announced
Understanding Mercedes-Benz GLC names
The GLC is currently is available with two diesel and two petrol options. Diesel models feature a 'd' after the number, with the number reflecting the level of performance on offer - the larger the number, the more power you can expect. The exceptions are AMG performance models, which feature lower numbers reflecting the size of engine that would typically provide the respective level of performance - again, the higher the number, the faster the car.
All GLC models get electronically controlled 4MATIC four-wheel drive. Mercedes-AMG versions get 4MATIC+, which sends more power to the rear wheels, for a sportier feel on the road.
The nine-speed 9G-Tronic is an automatic gearbox that is standard across the range, while powerful AMGs get a faster-acting Speedshift automatic gearbox - again with nine gears.
Trim AMG Line
Trim lines are fairly straightforward, with Sport and AMG Line to choose from, with AMG offering a sportier look and feel. The latter then gets Premium, Premium Plus and Ultimate upgrade packs that provide more equipment - at a cost. GLC 63 models come in standard or Premium Plus forms.
Mercedes-Benz GLC Engines
Petrol: 63, 63 S
Diesel: 220d, 300d
Mercedes has kept it fairly simple with the GLC engine line-up. Further petrols and a hybrid are on the way, but for now your choice is between a pair of diesels and an extremely high performance petrol that comes in two states of tune.
Despite the different badges on the bootlid (220d and 300d), the GLC diesels are essentially powered by the same twin-turbocharged 2.0-litre engine.
The 220d is expected to be the biggest seller, and with 194hp and a healthy 400Nm of torque it delivers all the performance you’re likely to need. Mercedes claims a brisk 0-62mph time of 7.9 seconds, while the ample mid-range torque means effortless real world pace. It’s reasonably refined too, with little more than a distant growl when worked hard.
Different tuning means the 300d delivers 245hp and, crucially, 500Nm of torque, which like the 220d comes in at a very low 1,600rpm. On the road this makes the more powerful diesel feel surprisingly quick, with the sort of acceleration that will shock a few hot hatch drivers. Like the 220d, the unit is impressively refined, combining with that strong low rev acceleration to give the GLC a muscular yet easy-going character.
Both the diesel engines are mated to a nine-gear automatic gearbox, which shifts smoothly enough but can get a little hesitant. It’s at its worst at low speeds, where it can be wrong-footed at roundabouts and junctions as it struggles to choose the right ratio, however. You can take control of the gearbox yourself using the steering wheel-mounted paddles, but this approach is at odds with the GLC’s relaxed character - best to let the car do the work and put up with the odd ill-timed or jerky shift.
At the other end of the spectrum are the bombastic Mercedes-AMG 63 duo. Like the diesels, the 63 and 63 S effectively have the same engine, in this case a twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 petrol. There are two states of tune (476hp standard and 510hp for the S), yet frankly there’s little to choose between the two subjectively, with both delivering blistering performance - there are dedicated sportscars that will struggle to keep up in a straight line. Yet perhaps even more exciting than the performance is the noise. Rev the engine hard and you’re treated to a bellowing and crackling exhaust note that never fails to raise a smile on the driver’s face - although your neighbours aren’t necessarily going to be as overjoyed.
However, use all that performance and you’ll be getting very friendly with your local petrol station, with fuel economy easily dipping below 10mpg. Even driving gently will result in little more than low 20s. Gulp! The diesels on the other hand can be easily coaxed into returning in excess of 40mpg.
The latest edition to the GLC engine range is the 300e plug-in hybrid. Coupling a 2.0-litre diesel engine with a 90kW electric motor to bring about performance comparable to 300d models with vastly superior economy and emissions figures.
|Diesel plug-in hybrid
Mercedes-Benz GLC Trims
Sport, AMG Line, AMG Line Premium, AMG Line Premium Plus, AMG Line Ultimate, GLC 63, GLC 63 S
The Mercedes GLC trim line looks a little overwhelming at first, but dig a little deeper and you’ll discover it’s essentially just three different models - Sport, AMG Line and the AMG 63s. The Premium, Premium Plus and Ultimate versions are simply options packs that bundle together desirable kit so you only have to tick one box rather than dozens.
Sport kicks off the range and is only available with the 220d engine. Despite its entry-level status, it actually comes with all the kit you need, including LED lights, climate control, self parking system, a powered tailgate and heated seats covered in the brand’s synthetic Artico leather trim. Also included a slick 10.25-inch touchscreen media system that uses the surprisingly effective ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice command system (think of it as a four-wheeled version of Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant). As an added bonus, if you steer clear of the options then the Sport is the only GLC that’s avaialble for less than £40,000, meaning you’ll avoid five years of increased VED road tax charges, which saves you £320 a year.
Upgrading to AMG Line brings mainly cosmetic changes, with larger 19-inch alloy wheels and some racy looking body additions. Inside, there are front sports seats that offer better side support, aluminium finish pedals and a chunky three-spoke steering wheel.
To this little lot the Premium upgrade adds adaptive LED headlamps, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster in place of traditional analogue dials, leather seat trim and a 64-colour ambient interior lighting system. The entertainment system is also upgraded to feature Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, plus the sat-nav uses the front facing parking camera to overlay direction instructions on a real time image as you approach a junction - very neat.
Premium Plus gets all this plus even larger 20-inch alloys, a sliding glass sunroof, powered seats, keyless entry and a powerful Burmester sound system. Finally, the Ultimate takes all this and adds air suspension and gesture recognition for the entertainment system, which allows you to swipe the air in front of the screen to access various functions.
The Mercedes-AMG models are essentially equipped the same as Premium models, but with the addition of bespoke AMG styling additions, specially tuned air suspension and a limited slip differential for the rear axle as part of its 4MATIC+ four-wheel drive to boost grip when accelerating. Like the standard car you can upgrade to Premium Plus trim.
With so many options bundled together, there are very few individual additions. The Mercedes-AMGs can be ordered with Night and Carbon packages that add extra gloss black trim and carbonfibre details respectively, while all models can be had with various metallic paints and an upgrade to the hand gesture media system.
However, of all the options, the £1695 Driving Assistant pack is arguably the most worthwhile as it adds features such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and lane keep assist among many features. The only downside is that it’s not available on Sport models.
Mercedes-Benz GLC Reliability and warranty
The Mercedes GLC is a reasonably satisfying car to own, although a 62nd place finish in the Auto Express 2019 Driver Power satisfaction survey is hardly something to write home about, especially as it finished below rivals such as the Jaguar F-Pace. Still, owners rated the GLC’s quality and refinement, with only high running costs counting against it particularly strongly.
Like all Mercedes models, the GLC gets a very standard three-year warranty - although it does benefit from not having mileage limit. Remarkably, Mercedes will offer 30 years of roadside recovery assistance, but the caveat is that your GLC must have a continuous Mercedes main dealer service history to qualify.
Used Mercedes-Benz GLC
The facelifted GLC has only just hit new car showrooms so used examples are currently non existent. However, since its introduction in 2016 the GLC has become one of Mercedes most popular options, so there are plenty of earlier and nearly new models to choose from.
Most of the cars available are the 220d and 250d, which were the most popular. However, bear in mind the 220d can feel a little sluggish, while both versions are based on the older 2.1-litre diesel, which is far from the last word in refinement. Newer 2.0-litre versions are much better in this regard.
If your budget stretches, then we’d recommend seeking out the V6-engined 350d, which isn’t much less economical in the real world, yet is far quicker and much quieter.
If you don’t do many miles then the 250 petrol is worth a look - it’s quick enough, much smoother than the four-cylinder diesels and you’ll get a newer, lower mileage car for the cash. And if you want more performance, then the 335hp GLC 43 models deliver much of the excitement and acceleration of the 63 versions, but with lower running costs and less ‘look-at-me’ sounds and styling.
Most used GLCs are well equipped, but it’s worth looking out for cars with the safety oriented Driving Assistant pack. Also desirable is the air suspension upgrade, which not only improves comfort on the road, but can be raised to deliver surprising off-road ability.