Elegant practicality: Mercedes-Benz's refreshed GLC range tested in Australia
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A keen eye for detail is needed to spot exterior changes to the front design and alloy wheel styles; but under the bonnet and inside the cabin there’s a significant midlife refresh for the Mercedes-Benz GLC.
The mid-size SUV debuted locally in late 2015, rapidly becoming a customer favourite and attracting new buyers to the brand.
Over the past four years, the GLC has duelled with the C-Class as the most popular model in the Mercedes-Benz range and made a key contribution to increased SUV sales for the three-pointed star brand.
The 2020 GLC upgrade is partly significant for what is no longer available.
Diesel becomes a thing of the past with the 220d and 250d deleted from the New Zealand market.
In their place are performance gains for four-cylinder petrol models already on sale here. And from the second quarter of next year, the GLC becomes the latest Mercedes-Benz model to offer a plug-in hybrid.
The complete refreshed GLC lineup will have eight models — five SUVs, three coupes — and will include five powertrain choices topped by rapid V6 and V8 turbocharged AMG performance models.
A press launch in Victoria focused on the upgraded four-cylinder petrol duo.
The lineup starts with the GLC 200, which gains attention for its sharp $87,600 price point.
Only available in the SUV body style, the GLC 200 is rear-wheel drive and, as part of the 2020 update, gains a more powerful 2.0-litre petrol engine with 145kW and 320Nm, working alongside the 9G-Tronic automatic transmission. It’s an additional 10kW and 20Nm over the original GLC 200 and allows 0.2s to be trimmed from the 0-100km/h acceleration run to 7.8s.
The GLC 200 cruised on the Victorian back roads and 110km/h freeways. Quiet and reasonably fuel-efficient — achieving 9.1L/100km during our drive — it delivers an appealing blend of Mercedes-Benz luxury and technology with five-seat SUV practicality.
As the entry point to the GLC lineup, the 200 specification boasts 19in alloy wheels, the Easy-Pack electric tailgate, static LED headlights, Artico upholstery and a black roofliner. New for 2020 are Traffic Sign Assist and, across the 2020 GLC family, the MBUX infotainment and communications system — first seen on the latest A-Class and since introduced in new B-Class, CLA and GLE ranges.
MBUX combines the 12.3in digital instrument cluster and 12.25in central touchscreen with integrated media interface, touchpad operation, the Hey Mercedes intelligent voice control system and the new Mercedes Me Connect app.
At the second tier of four-cylinder performance, the gains are enough to have earned a designation change from GLC 250 to GLC 300.
The new GLC 300 4Matic has a 35kW increase in power plus an additional 20Nm of torque from its upgraded engine producing 190kW and 370Nm of torque. There’s 0.9s trimmed from the 0-100km/h sprint to a lively 6.2s.
The GLC 300 is priced from $101,400 in SUV format and is also the entry point to the coupe lineup at $111,000.
The step-up in specification and pricing over the 200 introduces wireless charging for compatible mobile devices, Keyless-Go with hands-free access, aluminium-look running boards with rubber studs, rear privacy glass, Multibeam LED headlights with Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus and 20in five-twin-spoke alloy wheels.
The more advanced Driver Assist Package is included on GLC 300 models and includes Distronic active cruise control plus Active Steering Assist, Active Braking Assist with Cross-Traffic Function, Evasive Steering Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Lane Changing Assist and Pre-Safe Plus.
Further additions when the coupe style is selected include Dynamic Body Control suspension with adjustable damping (optional on SUV models) while AMG Line interior enhancements include sports pedals, floor mats and flat bottom steering wheel. The AMG Line treatment extends to the exterior, with AMG body styling plus 20in AMG five-twin-spoke alloy wheels with a tyre pressure monitoring system.
On SUV models the AMG Line package is a $5000 option for the GLC 200 and $3200 on the GLC 300.
Behind the wheel the GLC 300 4Matic SUV is a significant performance step-up from its 200 sibling. Overtaking response and uphill urge is at a higher level and the more powerful GLC 300 never seems as busy when asked to work harder. And 4Matic all-wheel drive brings a more secure stance through twisty sections.
The other new GLC that will carry a 300 designation wasn’t included on the press drive programme: the new GLC 300e 4Matic. It has a plug-in hybrid powertrain combining a 155kW/350Nm petrol engine and 90kW/440Nm electric motor to offer a peak combined output of 235kW and 700Nm. The lithium-ion battery has 13.5kWh capacity.
It accelerates from 0-100km/h in 5.7s and under the WLTP test regime the PHEV version is rated with a 43km electric driving range and combined cycle consumption of 2.2L/100km.
Only available in the SUV body style, GLC 300e 4Matic pricing will be $105,500. The $4100 premium over the conventional GLC 300 brings Air Body Control suspension and pre-entry climate control.
The GLC will continue to deliver a strong performance component with the 3.0-litre V6 twin turbo powered GLC 43 4Matic and hard core GLC 63 S 4Matic with 4.0-litre BiTurbo V8 delivering two levels of AMG muscle and the choice of SUV or coupe format. The updated Mercedes-AMG GLC models are set for January 2020 arrival.