The Mercedes-Benz GLC has been a rousing success for the brand, but the competition isn’t exactly sleeping. BMW has launched a new X3 and X4, Audi is adding the Q3 to the still-fresh Q5, and Porsche has given new engines and a new infotainment architecture to the Macan. It’s time to move forward for Mercedes-Benz, and we just obtained some very favorable impressions during the final testing phase of the facelifted GLC up in Northern Sweden.
Even though it has every reason to smile, the new GLC sports a somewhat more serious, almost aggressive look. The shape of the headlights has been modified to accomodate what Mercedes-Benz calls the “Panamericana grille.” Briefly reserved for the high-powered AMG models, it is rapidly spreading to the entire lineup of the brand.
The new LED headlights potentially turn the night into the day, and the new LED taillights look good. There are new wheel designs, ranging from 17 to 20 inches, and Daimler offers the facelifted GLC with a steel suspension, a steel suspension with electronic dampers, and an air suspension. With a plethora of optional setups, the properties of the GLC range from a sporty coupe – yes, there will be a coupe version again – to a capable off-roader. In fact, there is an Offroad and an Offroad Plus setting, which – in conjunction with a raised air suspension – will get the driver far when he leaves the beaten path.
In Europe, the GLC be all-wheel-drive only, and it will receive a wide range of diesel and gasoline engines, enhanced with 48-volt hybridisation. In the US, where fuel is a lot cheaper and all-wheel is not needed in many states, there will be a rear-wheel drive entry-level model. Moreover, Daimler will skip the 48-volt system in favor of the well-proven 12-volt setup. The best seller will likely be the GLC 300, fitted with a turbocharged four that makes around 250 horsepower.
All versions of the Mercedes-Benz GLC – with the exception of the F-Cell – will be fitted with a 9-speed automatic, and that now includes the plug-in hybrid as well. This heretofore unconvincing version will receive a new battery pack with significantly more capacity. There will be AMG versions as well, up to the AMG GLC 63 with its 500-horsepower-plus 4.0-liter V-8; more information is forthcoming.
The mostly Europe-destined F-Cell is an outlier, powered by an E-motor that makes just over 200 horsepower. Recently launched, it won’t get the visual updates of the facelifted regular GLC.
We drove a European-market GLC 300 4Matic; the engine pulled strongly, even though it doesn’t sound truly impressive; a bit of sound engineering through the stereo system helps. The steering is nicely weighted, the handling impeccable. It was fun to toss the compact SUV around an ice track, particularly in Sport mode.
Beyond the updated powertrains, there are significant changes to the electronics architecture. The GLC is now fitted with the upgraded MBUX user interface and improved telematics. The technology, shared with the recently facelifted C-Class, is faster, and it includes a number of cutting-edge telematics and assistance functions. The touch pad on the center console could be easier to operate, and while it looks good, it is distracting, losing out to the old controller button when it comes to simple things like changing the scale of the map.
Cosmetic changes like new wood qualities are rounding off the suite of changes, which will undoubtedly keep the GLC going strongly for another few years before it gets replaced by an entirely new generation.