The second generation of the mid-range SUV from Mercedes-Benz goes by the name of GLC and represents a big step forward on several fronts: On a technical level the new SUV clearly makes its mark with the excellent standard of safety that is a brand hallmark, featuring state-of-the-art assistance systems and outstanding energy efficiency. Fuel consumption has been cut by up to 19 percent in comparison to the previous model. At the same time, the AIR BODY CONTROL multi-chamber air suspension that is without parallel in this segment, the extended range of DYNAMIC SELECT dynamic transmission modes and the 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive increase not only the ride comfort, but also the vehicle’s sporty agility – whatever surface it is driving on. Visually, the body follows the clear and sensual design idiom which was demonstrated so successfully by the GLC Coupé showcar concept in the spring, and which serves as the standard for future SUV families.
“Our new GLC represents a further, systematic step in the implementation of our successful SUV philosophy. It combines the ultimate in driving comfort with a sporty touch, impresses on the road and – more than ever – off it as well, and appeals to the eye with the new design and equipment line,” says Thomas Weber, member of the Management Board of Daimler AG and responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
The design philosophy behind the new GLC essentially favours sensual purity and a modern aesthetic over the classic off-road look. The dynamic design exudes emotional appeal while also employing purist forms. Surfaces embodying a degree of tension and precise lines cite the clear design line followed by all state-of-the-art SUVs from Mercedes-Benz. The GLC only represents a departure from its rogenitor – the G-Class – in terms of appearance, however. On a technical level it sets new benchmarks in all disciplines – the mid-size SUV’s off-road capabilities remain as outstanding as ever.
The characteristic SUV front with a short, succinct overhang, upright, three-dimensional radiator grille with a twin louvre and centrally positioned brand star follows the successful new design line. Striking headlamps, optionally available as LED High Performance lamps, lend the GLC a self-confident look which is further emphasised by their distinctive night design. The bumpers with integrated underguard come in three variants: in addition to the base version there is a version optimised for off-road use with a larger angle of approach/departure, plus a particularly sporty AMG variant.
The side view showcases the almost coupé-like greenhouse, which together with the 118 millimetres larger wheelbase lends the GLC an elegant long profile. This impression is further reinforced by the gently sloping dropping line which is a hallmark of the brand and by the powerful shoulders. The rising lower feature line also enlivens the vehicle’s side view. Matt black cladding in the wings, wheels up to a size of 50.8 cm (20 inches) and the optional side running board provide clear indications of the GLC’s off-road credentials.
The rear is characterised by the broad, muscular shoulders, the horizontal orientation of the contour lines and the split LED rear lamps featuring a distinctive night design. As on the front, the different bumper variants are available here as well. By integrating all the antennae into the exterior mirrors and the roof spoiler, it has been possible to do away with the fin which has featured on the roof to date.
The paradigm shift in the area of design affects not only the outside appearance. The model change also signals a marked upgrade for the interior. A modern setting prevails which is quite in keeping with the standard set by its bigger brother, the GLE. The new design idiom combines sensual purity with dynamic sportiness and embodies a new interpretation of modern luxury. The GLC’s interior conjures up the feel-good atmosphere which is a brand hallmark courtesy of high-class materials featuring a hand-crafted character, such as nappa leather or open-pore wood trim, meticulously finished details and an appealing overall touch and feel. Last but not least, substantially more space is available for occupants and luggage. The optional large-area panoramic glass roof further enhances the light and airy feel inside.
A key focus of the totally new interior design is the dashboard and the centre console with its flowing lines, with a large, one-piece console panel performing an elegant sweep from the centre air vents to the armrest. These clear-cut lines create a feeling of open space and establish a purist, modern vibe. The newly developed innovative touchpad in the handrest over the rotary pushbutton nestles ergonomically in the centre console. As on a smartphone, this provides for very simple and intuitive operation of all the head-unit functions using finger gestures. The touchpad also permits letters, numbers and special characters to be entered in handwriting – in any language supported by Audio 20 or COMAND Online. A centrally positioned media display is partially integrated above the centre console. Five round air outlets with metallic “cool touch” effect lend the dashboard a sporty air and create an interesting contrast to the warm look of the other materials.
In comparison to its predecessor, the new GLC is substantially more spacious for front and rear occupants alike. The increase in the size of the GLC in comparison to the previous model has been translated effectively into useful interior space. Almost all key comfort factors have been improved – substantially in some instances – above all the space on the rear bench, which came in for frequent criticism on the previous model. An impressive amount of legroom – the space between the front seat backrests and the rear bench seat – is now available, following a very sizeable increase of 57 mm.
More space is also available for the front occupants, who benefit from a generous increase in shoulder and elbow room. By means of intelligent packaging and perfect seat geometry, the interior designers from the Mercedes-Benz Technology Centre (MTC) have even managed to conjure up 57 mm of additional space here – although the vehicle’s width has only grown by 50 mm.
Another comfort criterion – entry and exit space for the rear passengers – has also been enhanced substantially, with 34 mm more foot space now available for the purposes of entering and exiting the vehicle.
Through the effective use of space and intelligent packaging, the engineers have also managed to increase the size of the luggage compartment with level a load area and its attendant utility value substantially. The rear bench features a 40/20/40 split and offers a cargo position which increases the load capacity by locking the backrests at a steeper angle. The load capacity behind the rear bench increases by 80 to 110 litres, to a total of up to 580 litres. In all, the GLC 1600 is able to transport up to 1600 litres – 50 litres more than was previously possible. The maximum luggage compartment length is 1320 mm, while the maximum width increases by 150 to 1100 mm.
Added convenience for loading and unloading is provided by lowering of the load compartment sill by 40 mm with the AIR BODY CONTROL option and by HANDS‑FREE ACCESS, which enables the tailgate to be opened automatically by performing a swiping movement with the foot under the bumper.
Energy efficiency: crucial parameters
Mercedes-Benz has applied an extensive package of measures to enhance the GLC’s energy efficiency and performance substantially. Modified or new drive systems, outstanding aerodynamics and intelligent lightweight design are the primary factors behind the vehicle’s fuel efficiency. The diesel and petrol models boast significant reductions of up to 19 percent in both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in comparison to the previous generation, while at the same time improving performance with the same power output:
All models comply with the EU6 emissions standard and offer a start/stop function. For the first time in this segment, with the GLC 350 e 4MATIC Mercedes-Benz is additionally offering a plug-in hybrid which combines the merits of agile all-wheel drive with the lowest fuel consumption and emissions: the mid-size SUV emits only 60 g of CO2 per km* and attains a top speed of 235 km/h with a best-in-class system output of 155 + 85 kW (211 + 116 hp). The semi-electric vehicle can cover up to 34* km in zero-emission all-electric mode, accelerating to 100 km/h in 5.9 seconds if necessary, courtesy of the boost function. Like its plug-in big brother of the S-Class, the GLC 350 e 4MATIC offers all the characteristic comfort and efficiency systems – from the flexible, intelligent operating strategy through the specific hybrid driving programs and the haptic accelerator pedal to pre-entry climate control.
* Provisional figures
The design transition has also bestowed superlative aerodynamics on the new GLC. With a Cd value of 0.31 (GLK 0.34) and total aerodynamic drag of 0.794 (GLK 0.87), it sets a clear benchmark in this segment. Apart from the vehicle’s substantially more aerodynamically efficient basic shape, this exceptional aerodynamic performance also results from a host of solutions relating to points of detail, such as sealing of the radiator and headlamp surrounds, a radiator shutter, the extended roof spoiler or the optimised underbody panelling.
Despite markedly larger outer dimensions, a longer wheelbase and a more extensive scope of equipment, the vehicle’s weight has been cut by 80 kg (176 lbs). The main contributory factor to this reduction is the totally new body, which is 50 kg (110 lbs) lighter than the smaller GLK counterpart, thanks to an intelligent mix of materials comprising aluminium and high- to ultra-high-strength steels. Aluminium components additionally reduce the weight of the chassis, which also benefits ride comfort due to the attendant reduction in unsprung masses. The optional AIR BODY CONTROL full-support multi-chamber air suspension features spring elements in lightweight yet robust glass-fibre-reinforced plastic, which reduce the system weight in comparison to conventional air suspensions. The use of the new compact transfer case as an add-on module and the 9G-TRONIC with its magnesium transmission housing results in a reduction in weight of 12 kg in comparison to the previous model.