2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic Quick Spin [w/video]
The GLK Successor Goes Soft, With a Purpose
EngineTurbo 2.0L I4
Power241 HP / 273 LB-FT
0-60 Time6.5 Seconds (est.)
Curb Weight4,001 LBS
As Tested Price$57,320
That's getting right to the point, and it's accurate. The GLC is lighter, larger, and more comfortable than the long-running GLK that it replaces. It's wrapped in a simple yet elegant design that's a departure from the polarizing looks of its off-road-themed predecessor, and the "C" in the name now clearly aligns it as the SUV counterpart to the C-Class sedan. We'll always have a soft spot for the GLK, but the widespread appeal of the GLC is undeniable.
- The GLC300 runs Mercedes' widely used 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, rated at 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Maximum twist is served up at just 1,300 rpm, which makes passing smooth and easy. We pick off semis and slower moving traffic with confidence. During these bursts of acceleration, we notice the engine note, which has a deep timbre.
- The turbo four is a solid replacement for the GLK's naturally aspirated V6. Still, we like that engine. It serves up 302 hp in no-frills fashion. But Mercedes is moving away from six cylinders, inline with market trends, and this turbo delivers 20-percent better fuel economy. Though the I4 and V6 are both rated at 273 lb-ft, the turbo's max output is available much sooner. Coupled with the lighter weight, it almost makes up for the turbo four's 61 fewer hp. 0-60 times are expected to be comparable, Herring says.
- The GLC's nine-speed automatic transmission replaces the GLK's seven-speed auto gearbox. The new transmission shifts smoothly when we're cruising, though it will hold gears longer in Sport and Sport+ modes when we want to spice things up. We pull the paddles during acceleration, but found this sophisticated unit is best left to its own devices.
- We spend most of our test in a 4Matic all-wheel-drive version, which provides a little extra peace of mind on a chilly, wet morning as we navigate the busy highways and quiet rural routes of northern Georgia. Generally, it's hard to actually test all-wheel-drive capability on the street, but we definitely notice when we don't have it.
- During our brief test in a rear-drive model, the tires spin when we get on the throttle aggressively, and the vehicle feels a little more unbuttoned over the wet leaves strewn across the damp pavement. Mercedes expects sales to be about evenly split between RWD and AWD models.
- The basic steel suspension with some aluminum components is comfortable, as we would expect from a Mercedes SUV. Georgia's roads are pretty smooth, but the GLC was agreeable when we tested it on bumpier streets in Europe this summer.
- The dynamic select feature offers a choice of five different driving settings, ranging from the mild Eco and Comfort modes to the most athletic, Sport+. They change the handling characteristics of the chassis and alter the engine and transmission responses. Sport and Sport+ offer a slightly more intense experience than the other levels, but none of them are extreme.
- The appearance is significantly different from the GLK. We were totally into that edgy design, which gave the GLK a brashness not often seen in this vanilla segment. Still, not everyone shares that view, and the GLC will likely have a wider appeal with its gentle lines and curves. The grille has a big Mercedes crest, and it seems to float on horizontal wings that stretch across the front. It's the most prominent single design cue. The lighting package option ($1,500) adds LED headlamps, which further dress up the front end.
- Our tester is clad in red, which looks snazzy. The 20-inch AMG wheels with 14 spokes do punch things up a bit. Still, the GLC looks generic from a distance. It conveys an aura of German luxury, but non-car connoisseurs will need to see the three-pointed star to confirm its identity.
- Like the exterior, the cabin is done up largely in black. It's broken up by large vents, dark grained ash wood, gray trim, and the prominent COMAND navigation in the middle of the dash. COMAND is fairly user-friendly, and we operate the infotainment settings via a knob in the center console and a small touch pad. There are also enough buttons logically placed in the middle to control other basic functions, like climate.
- The standard rear-view camera is crystal clear. It's helpful if you have a penchant for missing turns and then need to throw it in reverse (like us). The cabin is quiet and filters out the rest of the world. Even on a rainy day, we were cocooned inside the GLC and could hold conversations easily.
- Our tester starts at $41,875, and with options like the Sport, Multimedia, and Lighting packages, tops out at $57,320. It's a nice vehicle, but it's not cheap.
Like Herring says, the GLC is different than the GLK, but they share the same mission of winning over finicky crossover customers. With cleaner looks, more space, and improved fuel efficiency, the GLC is poised to do it better.
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