Mercedes-Benz Shows Off Production-Spec 2016 GLC
GLK-Replacing SUV Gets Softer Lines, Luxurious Accommodations, Off-Road Chops
After teasing fans with a short video yesterday, Mercedes-Benz revealed the production-ready GLC compact SUV today, giving us a clear look at what will likely become one of Benz’s volume models.
The changes from the GLK to the GLC that replaces it are obvious. Gone are the former’s upright features, with its nearly vertical rear hatch and tall, G-Class–esque doors and windshield. Instead, the GLC adopts styling cues from the subcompact GLA crossover and the newly revealed GLE Coupe crossover, in a move that Mercedes says prioritizes “sensual purity and a modern aesthetic over the classic off-road look.” It’s a long, lean, graceful design that works well from most angles.
The front-end graphic gets lots of inspiration from the company’s new models, such as the C-Class sedan and aforementioned crossovers. However, unlike the fastback GLE Coupe or the hot-hatch-plus GLA, the GLC gets a more formal, traditional SUV roofline. The rear three-quarter view has quite a few Acura RDX undertones thanks to its inverted taillights and triangular quarter glass. If you squint, there’s a little Volkswagen Touareg in there as well. Still, even with those influences, the GLC is easily identifiable as a modern Benz.
Abandoning the GLK’s design scheme strikes us as a smart move, as it sets the world-beating Geländewagen apart as the ne plus ultra of Mercedes SUVs while still allowing other Benzes to look modern and fresh. Besides, the GLK’s off-road performance was never as good as its butch exterior suggested. That likely won’t be a problem for the GLC, as Mercedes engineers have spent energy improving its off-roadability.
Respectable approach and departure angles, 0.9 inches of additional ground clearance compared to the GLK, and an automatic-locking center differential on 4MATIC all-wheel-drive models will keep the GLC going on most of the terrain its owners will encounter. Additionally, a new design that separates the single-speed transfer case from the 9G-TRONIC nine-speed automatic transmission allows for lighter weight, improved system efficiency, and better torque delivery.
Speaking of torque, the U.S.-market Mercedes-Benz GLC will be available with one engine, at least initially. Standard on the GLC300 and GLC300 4MATIC will be a 2.0L turbocharged I-4, producing 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Those figures mirror that of the 2.0L engine in the C-Class sedan. We also predict that Mercedes-Benz will soon offer a GLC300e plug-in hybrid in the United States (shown here in these press images), as well as a higher-performance GLE400 powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.0L V-6. A Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 hasn’t been confirmed (or even rumored much), but Benz’s 4.0L V-8 might fit under the hood of the small SUV.
Inside, the GLC gets a near-wholesale interior donation courtesy of the C-Class sedan. The cascading center stack looks beautiful, whether it’s hewn from the standard wood with vertical graining or black open-pore ash. Burl walnut wood, piano-black lacquer, or high-gloss brown wood trim is available as well. MB-Tex synthetic, genuine leather, or premium nappa leather seating is available in a variety of colors. This author’s GLC would have saddle brown leather and open-pore wood trim, but the Truck Trend staff has never been accused of having great fashion sense.
A standard 7-inch infotainment display stands out on the inside, looking a bit like an iPad mounted on the dash. Not everyone loves the floating screen look, but we don’t mind it too much. Premium sound with Frontbass comes standard, but audiophiles may be keen on the premium-er Burmester system, which has sounded amazing in every Mercedes to date. Bluetooth connectivity comes standard, and an available Garmin MAP PILOT can turn the screen into a navigation display. Multicolor ambient lighting, air ionization and fragrance, and heated seating surfaces come optional, and the company’s exclusive designo interior outfittings are optional as well. With more space for all occupants than the GLK, the GLC should likely be a very pleasant luxury liner for four.
As with most new cars, a great emphasis has been placed on the GLC’s efficiency. Lightweight construction methods and materials mean the GLC is about 170 pounds lighter than an equivalent GLK, and downsized (yet more powerful) engines will allow better efficiency and performance, in theory anyway. Additionally, the coefficient of drag has been reduced by about 10 percent compared to the GLK, so it should be pretty slippery as well. The nine-speed auto will increase operating efficiency by allowing high gears and low engine speeds on the highway and low gears and quick performance when needed.
Overall, we see a lot to like about the GLC, which was previewed by the Mercedes-Benz Concept GLC Coupé shown in Shanghai in April. With some soft-roading capabilities (however slight they may be), a handsome exterior, and a luxurious, well-outfitted interior, combined with its performance and efficiency credibility, we’re sure it’ll sell even better than its popular predecessor. Sales will commence in November, with pricing that Mercedes says will be comparable to the outgoing GLK.