Goodness of a C-Class, utility of a crossover.
– Detroit, Michigan
During a recent vacation in Germany, I spent a week with the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe – the BMW X6-fighting oddity that, frankly, I just don’t understand. But when I got home, I immediately felt at ease behind the wheel of this GLC300. It’s not weird or wacky for the sake of filling a niche; it’s not trying to be a coupe or a sports car (though Mercedes will soon sell you a version that is). The regular GLC is just a damn good small luxury ‘ute that’s easy to use and still has all the characteristics of a proper Mercedes.
- The GLC is, essentially, a jacked-up C-Class. That means you get all of the niceness and refinement of the new C in this more utilitarian package. The cabin is the best in the segment, by far – and better than the aging interior of that aforementioned GLE Coupe, by the way. Every surface looks and feels premium, and the whole cabin just speaks to comfort and relaxation, especially in this calming Silk Beige color with the contrasting Linden Wood trim.
- Mercedes’ 2.0-liter turbo-four resides underhood, making the same 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque that it does in nearly every other application, which is perfectly adequate for this 4,000-pound, all-wheel-drive GLC. There’s power on tap when needed, but the overall drive character is smooth and composed – ditto the nine-speed automatic transmission, which is almost unnoticeable most of the time. The steering has decent weight and the suspension is comfortable while still offering a good amount of feedback from the road. As I scan the list of competitors below, I’m hard pressed to find another vehicle that’s as composed as this GLC300. It’s certainly not the sporty choice – at least, not until the GLC43 arrives – but it’s tuned nicely for everyday use.
- It’s little on the outside and big on the inside. Every time I got out of the GLC, I was surprised by its small stature, only because both front and rear seats feel so roomy inside. Maybe it’s the panoramic sunroof that really opens up the cabin, or that beige fabric, but this thing feels plenty roomy for four adults. There’s also a generous cargo hold, with as much as 56.5 cubic feet of space available with the back seats folded.
- Sometimes I forget how many things luxury cars don’t come with as standard. The GLC300 4Matic starts at $40,950, yet heated seats, leather, Sirius radio, LED headlights, navigation, and a number of safety/tech features are all optional – as tested, this is a $54,360 GLC. This car is a peculiar spec, too, with lots of luxury add-ons, but nothing sporty. I’m so used to seeing Mercedes test cars with the AMG styling kit and upgraded wheels that the base 18-inch rollers and non-AMG body looks a little weird to me, even if the GLC is still a really attractive car.
- This isn’t just exclusive to the GLC, but I wish the Dynamic Select function would remember your setting each time you start the car. I like to adjust the Individual settings, so I can get every little detail just right, but then every time I fire up the car, it’s right back to Comfort. Of course, that’s a great way to live the GLC life. It’s just not what I asked for.
Photos: Steven Ewing / Motor1.com