Back in 1998, Mercedes-Benz rewrote the rulebook when it launched its ML. Here you have an SUV that blends the premium and utility worlds into one with a vehicle that can do any and all things. In the two decades since, the SUV not only underwent changes with regards to its design but also its name.
The ML was an important vehicle for Mercedes-Benz and it also set the tone for more SUVs to come from Three-pointed Star. A few years ago, as more SUVs joined the line-up, the automaker changed the naming system for its SUVs, adopting the ‘GL’ nomenclature. The ML changed its name to GLE, as it falls in line with the E-Class family. The GLA with the A-Class, and GLS with the S-Class.
And the GLC? The C-Class sedan’s bigger brother? It came to market in 2015 and in early October 2019, Mercedes-Benz launched the latest iterations of this SUV in both standard and Coupé trim.
With the expansion of Merc’s ‘GL’ nomenclature, the GLC has been on the market for almost five years and established itself as a stalwart product. It’s been one of the automaker’s best-selling SUVs (1.5 million units sold since 2015, globally) and it is for that reason that Mercedes can’t rest on its laurels when it comes to it.
Both the GLC and GLC Coupé feature greater emphasis on the exterior design. The lines and shapes forming the body are a lot sharper, more brute, and more striking. Especially on the Coupé, it lends the vehicle an almost distinctive exterior that will surely attract attention. Buyers have the option to specify the type of rim they want on their GLC/Coupé, all ranging from 19 to 20-inch units.
In the GLC Coupé’s case, it is characterised by a sloping roofline that stretches downwards towards the rear. The effect of this is somewhat limited rear space and a boot that is slightly smaller than the GLC’s. On the upside, the SUV does have the upper hand when it comes to aesthetics.
Improved interior and technology
Both iterations of the GLC see a much-improved interior and does it certainly push the SUV up a notch or two. The fit and finish afforded to the GLC exude a premium feel. Occupants are treated to comfortable seats, a spacious cabin, and driver aids and technologies.
Leading the technological charge is MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience). MBUX allows users to activate the system by saying “Hey Mercedes” and then prompting a command for the system to execute. It can be further operated via touch or gesture control to ease the use of operation. A further boon is that the system, when the satellite navigation is activated, will automatically turn useful information into a video to be displayed on one of the two screens in front of the driver.
Further technologies finding their way to the GLC and GLC Coupé include Agility Control, Active Distance Assist and Active Steer Assist, Dynamic Select (driving modes), and Air Body Control (air suspension).
On the road
On the day, we only drove the GLC 300d Coupé and could we get a good idea of the SUV’s handling traits and driving dynamics. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre diesel engine, the SUV had ample shove when power was called upon. With 180kW an 500Nm to its disposal, it was easy to get the engine in its optimal working range.
There is a little bit of turbo lag when you smash the throttle, but it’s almost immediately canceled out as the turbo’s kick in. In that regard, Mercedes-Benz worked their charm on the SUV for it to perform in a way that’s expected from a Merc.
Road holding is good too and does the Coupé have very little to no body roll. Steering feedback is more than adequate, and the ride quality has a sturdiness that inspires confidence from the driver’s seat.
The entire GLC is kitted with enough to warrant itself a serious player in the premium SUV segment. Against rivals such as the BMW X3 and X4, the GLC and GLC Coupé need their wit about them if they’re going to lead the charge and be the new segment leader.
And based on initial impressions, Mercedes-Benz did enough to make the range relevant again.