First Drive: 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC300

Compact Par Excellence

Colin Ryan
Feb 4, 2016
Photographers: Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz
Goodbye, GLK. You were fine as a premium compact crossover, but you were so obviously a first-generation vehicle. The design didn’t harmonize well with the rest of the Mercedes-Benz range, and what was up with the suspension? Anything worse than a smooth road surface showed the limitations of a fairly short wheelbase by turning the ride jiggly.
Hello, GLC, an all-new, second generation of compact crossover now based on the current (and fairly fresh) C-Class sedan, hence the C in the name. Most Mercedes-Benz SUVs are having their names changed to reflect their foundations. The new GLS, once the GL, is now positioned as a top-line “S-Class of crossovers,” for example.
Photo 2/46   |   004 2016 Mercedes Benz Glc300
It must be hard to design a crossover and avoid being boxy (the vehicle, not the designer). Nevertheless, Mercedes-Benz has managed to bring more than a touch of elegance to the GLC while simultaneously adding a family resemblance. The dashboard and much of the switchgear are taken from the C-Class sedan, which is hardly an issue since it’s all quality stuff, both in terms of looks and materials.
This model is slightly wider and longer than its predecessor, which means plenty of space for occupants, even those in the second row, plus more room for their things. Cargo space aft of the rear seat stretches from 16.5 to 20.5 cubic feet, representing a 17 percent improvement over the GLK’s volume. The rear seats fold down simply by pushing a button (expanding cargo capacity to 56.5 cubes), and there’s even some handy extra stowage space under the floor. A power tailgate is standard, and hands-free operation—a sensor in the rear bumper detects a foot’s movement—is on the options list.
Photo 3/46   |   016 2016 Mercedes Benz Glc300
A turbocharged four-cylinder engine brings the propulsion. It makes a highly respectable 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque from 2.0 liters of displacement. This is a common configuration these days, mostly because it works so well. It can provide enough push for most driving situations, while ever-advancing technology in engine management, direct fuel injection, and turbo manipulation can also keep consumption and emissions in check.
And that’s how it happens in practice. Hills, traffic, open stretches of empty road—they can all be dealt with quickly and easily. Peak torque chimes in at just 1,300 rpm, so there’s plenty of satisfying low-end punch. Being 176 pounds lighter than the GLK is also a plus. The nine-speed automatic transmission kicks down and shifts up almost imperceptibly. The GLC is the first of the family to have this gearbox, but it will also go into other Mercedes-Benz vehicles soon.
Photo 4/46   |   026 2016 Mercedes Benz Glc300
Naturally, it’s not just a question of get in and set off. There are modes to consider. Dynamic Select, to be precise, affects suspension, gearshift points, steering, and throttle responses. This piece of standard equipment allows the driver to toggle through Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport Plus, and Individual. Most of it is fairly easy to grasp. The Eco mode has a hybrid-like start/stop function, and the Individual mode allows users to make a custom setting from all the various parameters.
The ride, especially in Comfort mode, is far superior to that of the GLK’s. So yes, it’s comfortable but also stable and controlled. Rear-wheel drive is the standard setup, and it’s another couple of grand for the all-wheel-drive 4Matic version.
In both cases, grip is reassuring without actually transmitting to the driver the exact amount. Crossovers aren’t usually the kind of vehicles to get an enthusiast’s pulse racing, but with kids and gear on board, most drivers will be thankful for the GLC300’s quiet efficiency. For even greater comfort, air suspension is an option. It lowers the tail end by 1.6 inches for easier loading, dips the ride height at freeway speeds for optimal aerodynamics, raises it a touch should anyone stray from the tarmac and onto a trail, and helps control body lean through the corners. So far, this is the only vehicle in its class to offer such a feature.
Photo 5/46   |   023 2016 Mercedes Benz Glc300
Another useful feature is Crosswind Assist, also found in Sprinter and Metris vans. It brakes individual wheels to preserve the vehicle’s trajectory when things get gusty. This is also standard equipment, along with Collision Prevention Assist Plus (with the ability to brake automatically between certain parameters) and Attention Assist. For things like a head-up display, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, and radar-based intelligent cruise control, it’s time to consult the options, which are many and often pricey—a standard gripe when buying a German car. Even so, it’s still possible to buy an example with some well-chosen extras for around $50,000, which compares well with competition like the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.
Plans are in place to offer diesel power and a plug-in hybrid later in 2016. There’s probably even an AMG version in the works, but this model is an excellent place to start.
2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC300
Base Price: $39,875
Vehicle Layout: Front engine/RWD or AWD
Engine: 2.0L I-4, turbocharged and intercooled, DOHC, 16-valve
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Curb Weight: 3,875 lbs
Wheelbase: 113.1 in
0-60 MPH: 7.0 seconds (estimated) EPA City/HWY Fuel Econ: 21/28 mpg (4Matic)
Photo 6/46   |   2016 MBGLC300 Interior Detail
The all-new interior is lush, plush, and oozing with quality, just as we expect from Mercedes-Benz.
Photo 7/46   |   2016 MBGLC300 Profile Action
Ride quality takes a substantial leap in refinement over the GLK.
Photo 8/46   |   2016 MBGLC300 Rear 3q Action
All-wheel drive and a 2.0L turbo engine make a great combination for easy, rapid progress.
Photo 9/46   |   2016 MBGLC300 Trunk
This is what 20.5 cubic feet of cargo space looks like. The power tailgate has an optional dance-activated opening function.
Photo 10/46   |   2016 MBGLC300 Rear Seats
Rear passenger space is fine for adults of average size, both terms of headroom and legroom.
Photo 11/46   |   2016 MBGLC300 Display
Great high-resolution graphics on this 7-inch full-color display.
Photo 12/46   |   2016 MBGLC300 Engine Shot
Beneath the plastic cover is four-cylinder engine making 241 hp, which is ample for everyday here-and-there work. We’re still looking forward to an AMG version, though.

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