Mercedes GLC review

Category: Family SUV

The GLC is well-equipped family SUV that offers a good range of engines including PHEV options

Mercedes GLC front driving
  • Mercedes GLC front driving
  • Mercedes GLC rear cornering
  • Mercedes GLC interior dashboard
  • Mercedes GLC boot
  • Mercedes GLC interior infotainment
  • Mercedes GLC right driving
  • Mercedes GLC front right driving
  • Mercedes GLC rear cornering
  • Mercedes GLC left static boot open
  • Mercedes GLC interior front seats
  • Mercedes GLC back seats
  • Mercedes GLC interior steering wheel detail
  • Mercedes GLC interior detail
  • Mercedes GLC interior detail
  • Mercedes GLC boot open
  • Mercedes GLC front driving
  • Mercedes GLC rear cornering
  • Mercedes GLC interior dashboard
  • Mercedes GLC boot
  • Mercedes GLC interior infotainment
  • Mercedes GLC right driving
  • Mercedes GLC front right driving
  • Mercedes GLC rear cornering
  • Mercedes GLC left static boot open
  • Mercedes GLC interior front seats
  • Mercedes GLC back seats
  • Mercedes GLC interior steering wheel detail
  • Mercedes GLC interior detail
  • Mercedes GLC interior detail
  • Mercedes GLC boot open
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Introduction

What Car? says...

If you’re wondering where the Mercedes GLC sits in the brand’s model hierarchy, the clue is in the last letter. The GLC is the SUV equivalent of the C-Class saloon, and it's bigger than two other Mercedes SUVs, the GLA and GLB.

This latest version is slightly larger than the first-generation GLC, with modified underpinnings that give the driver and up to four passengers more interior space (it's not available as a seven-seater as some big SUVs are). The model shares its dashboard with the current Mercedes C-Class so you get that car's tech and style too.

All versions have four-wheel drive and you can have a petrol or diesel engine with mild-hybrid or plug-in hybrid technology. The PHEVs will be good options for company car drivers because their long electric-only ranges reduce benefit-in-kind tax considerably.

That all sounds mighty promising, but don't forget that the title of best family SUV is very hotly contested, so the GLC has its work cut out if it wants a shot.

For a start, it has to contend with seven-seaters including versions of the Land Rover Discovery Sport and the Mercedes GLB. Among five-seaters, there are the exceedingly accomplished Audi Q5 and BMW X3 plus PHEV rivals, such as the highly competent Lexus NX 450h and the PHEV Volvo XC60.

So should you buy the latest Mercedes GLC? Read on to find out...

Overview

As premium SUVs go, the Mercedes GLC offers a good range of engines and a pleasant interior with plenty of space for occupants. Our pick is the 220d since it provides a great blend of performance and fuel economy. However, the plug-in hybrid versions, with their huge electric range, make it stand out above rivals for company car drivers.

  • Well equipped
  • Plug-in hybrid has impressive electric range
  • Spacious interior
  • Slightly firmer ride than rivals
  • Stylish interior doesn't feel the most sturdy
  • Petrol engines need working hard
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Our Pick

OurPicksRRP £52,895
Mercedes-benz Glc GLC 220d 4Matic AMG Line 5dr 9G-Tronic review
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Performance & drive

What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is

Strengths

  • +Strong entry-level diesel engine
  • +Quiet cruiser

Weaknesses

  • -Not as sharp to drive as rivals
  • -Ride comfort isn’t quite as polished as Audi Q5's
  • -Vocal petrol engine

Consisting of a mild-hybrid (MHEV) diesel and petrol engine, as well as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) petrol and diesel, there’s something for everyone in the Mercedes GLC engine range. 

The entry-level 194bhp 220d diesel provides plenty of power low in the rev range, so you don’t have to work it very hard at all to make brisk progress. Flat-out acceleration is hardly exciting, but there’s enough performance for most buyers. Indeed, it should have the legs on the Land Rover Discovery Sport D200.

The GLC 300 petrol develops 254bhp and, on paper, is the quickest to accelerate from 0-62mph. It doesn’t feel like it in practice, though, and needs to be worked harder when you want a sudden turn of pace.

The 300e petrol PHEV, on the other hand, has power instantly available from its electric motor, making it more effortless to drive than the 300. Likewise, the 300de diesel PHEV is a considerable step up from the entry-level 220d. 

We’ve yet to try the standard car without air suspension (which isn’t available in the UK) but we have tried the PHEV, which gets self-levelling rear air suspension to deal with the extra weight of the battery. 

Mercedes GLC image
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While the GLC soaks up smaller potholes in town without much fuss, you’ll find that larger potholes unsettle the car and cause a slight thud through the interior. On 20in wheels, there’s a gentle amount of fidgeting at low speeds before settling down on the motorway. It’s not enough to make the GLC uncomfortable (the Lexus NX suffers from a similar effect), but the Audi Q5 is still the most comfortable rival and is far better at isolating occupants from imperfections.

When it comes to handling, the PHEV models won’t be as agile as the lighter MHEV options but they still give you plenty of grip and composure, with the rear air suspension somewhat negating the negative effects of the hefty battery. Non-PHEV versions get AMG-tuned coil spring suspension, which should be more capable on twisty roads. Still, there’s no escaping that the GLC feels much heavier than the smaller and more nimble NX.

The steering response isn’t the sharpest and the NX has a more natural build up in weight, but it’s accurate enough to help you position the GLC on the road with ease. Sport mode gives you weightier steering, but the BMW X3 and Porsche Macan are more agile and entertaining. 

In terms of refinement, the diesel 220d is smooth when accelerating and virtually inaudible at a motorway cruise. The petrol 300 is even quieter at low speeds, but becomes quite vocal when worked hard, with a constant whistling from the turbocharger that could prove annoying after a while. That would be appropriate in a performance car, but less so in a sensible family SUV.

The petrol engine in the 300e PHEV is rather grumbly when it fires up, but thankfully, it doesn’t make itself heard very often. The electric motor does most of the work around town with less whine than the NX. The GLC is ever so slightly quieter on the motorway too.

Wind noise is minimal, with a little flutter around the front windscreen pillars. Road noise is also kept to a low level, but there's quite a thump from dealing with sharper bumps and expansion joints.

The standard nine-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly most of the time, but can be hesitant to shift down when you want a burst of acceleration or when setting off from a standstill. The PHEVs help solve that issue by using their electric power to assist almost instantaneously as you press the pedal.

To read about the fastest GLC see our Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 Coupé review.

“When we timed it at the What Car? test track, the GLC 300e hybrid accelerated from 0-60mph in 6.4sec. I've driven hot hatches that struggle to match that.” – Neil Winn, Reviews Editor

Mercedes GLC rear cornering

Interior

The interior layout, fit and finish

Strengths

  • +Commanding driving position
  • +Interior has high wow factor

Weaknesses

  • -Fiddly controls on steering wheel
  • -Materials could feel plusher

You sit suitably high up in the Mercedes GLC, and you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a comfortable driving position. As standard, every GLC gets comfortable front seats with four-way electrically adjustable lumbar support and a good range of steering wheel movement. All trims except entry-level Urban Edition come with electrically adjustable front seats and a memory function. 

From the driving seat, you’re treated to a commanding view of the road ahead, but the way the windscreen pillars are more steeply angled than in many big SUVs restricts visibility at junctions. It’s easier to see out of the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Lexus NX and Porsche Macan though, because the GLC's taller dashboard cocoons you more. On the plus side, that means the controls are slightly closer to you, so they're easier to reach.

Over-the-shoulder vision is perfectly adequate by the standards of the class, and all versions come with LED headlights, a rear-view camera, and front and rear parking sensors. AMG Line Premium and above get a 360-degree camera that provides a virtual bird’s eye view to help you manoeuvre in tight spaces. It uses the cameras to create a transparent bonnet view for off-roading, allowing you to keep an eye on the road immediately ahead of you.

The GLC’s interior is dominated by two large digital displays. Along with the crisp 12.3in driver’s display, there’s a large portrait-oriented 11.9in infotainment touchscreen that can be operated by touch, voice or using fiddly touch-sensitive controls on the steering wheel. A head-up display with a range of lay-outs is standard on top-spec AMG Line Premium Plus cars.

The central touchscreen is mounted high up on the dashboard and is within close reach, responding quickly to inputs and displaying super-sharp graphics. It has voice control, which is surprisingly good at recognising your requests and can be used for many functions, from changing the interior temperature to programming a location into the nav and even telling jokes. The shortcut keys and rotary controller of BMW’s iDrive system are less distracting to use though.  

For sheer visual wow factor, the GLC’s interior beats all the rivals. The top of the dash and doors on AMG Line models are covered in soft-touch material, and the large panels of gloss black and matt wood trim finishers contrast well with the silver highlights dotted around the car. There’s plenty of ambient lighting to bathe in at night time, too.

You’d have to look lower down on the dashboard to find hard scratchy plastics, and some of the buttons don’t feel as robust or as well-damped as those you’d find in some rivals. The Audi Q5 and BMW X3 are better for quality rather than style.

“The leather in most GLCs is man-made rather than the genuine article, but it's pretty convincing.” – Will Nightingale, Reviews Editor

Mercedes GLC interior dashboard

Passenger & boot space

How it copes with people and clutter

Strengths

  • +Plenty of space for four occupants
  • +Lots of storage space
  • +Non-PHEV versions have a big boot

Weaknesses

  • -Nothing major – PHEV boot is smaller but usable

Thanks to front seats that slide back a very long way, even seriously tall drivers won’t climb into the Mercedes GLC and complain about the leg room on offer. There’s plenty of front head room to accommodate anyone long in the body, even when a panoramic glass sunroof is fitted.

Storage space is suitably generous, with wide door pockets that are easily big enough to swallow a large bottle of water. There’s also a covered storage area in the centre front armrest, two cupholders and a tray tucked away with wireless phone-charging. 

There’s enough space in the back to accommodate a couple of six-footers, with lots of leg room for a passenger sitting behind a 6ft adult, and more on offer than inside the Lexus NX. There’s plenty of space for feet beneath the front seats to let you stretch out that bit further, while rear head room is impressive.

As in many rivals, middle-seat passengers will have to straddle a chunky transmission tunnel on the floor, so the GLC isn’t the best choice if you regularly carry three adults in the back. If you need to carry more people, look at the Land Rover Discovery Sport and Mercedes GLB (they're both seven-seaters). 

Rear storage is good, with door cubbies big enough for a couple of small bottles of water, map pockets on the backs of the front seats and a narrow pop-out tray for pens or to slot a phone in. 

Folding down the GLC’s rear seats is easy: you flick a switch in the boot (or another in the rear passenger compartment) and the seatbacks drop automatically. The rear seatbacks split 40/20/40, which means two rear passengers can enjoy full-size seats while you carry long, narrow cargo between them (a pair of skis, for example).

The load bay is uniform in shape and folding the rear seats down leaves a virtually flat extended load area with no annoying steps or ridges.

All versions come with an electric tailgate, a luggage retaining net on one side to contain smaller items and a small compartment under the floor to store the tonneau cover. The PHEV models' rear air suspension allows you to lower the back of the car to help with loading bulky items into the boot.

In terms of capacity, the GLC’s 620-litre boot is bigger than the ones in the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. We’ve yet to find out whether it will actually swallow more carry-on suitcases than those rivals, but it should be an improvement on the seven we squeezed into the previous model (that’s one fewer than the X3 can take and two less than the Q5).

The boot in the PHEV GLC is a little smaller, with a slightly raised floor to make room for the battery underneath. As a result we managed to fit six suitcases up to the parcel shelf, which is one less than the Q5 50 TFSIe, the X3 xDrive30e, the NX and the Volvo XC60 T6.

“Despite its higher floor, I reckon most people will find the PHEV's boot plenty big enough, but it's worth remembering that it slopes down towards the entrance, which means loose items can tumble out when you open the tailgate.” – Steve Huntingford, Editor

Mercedes GLC boot

Buying & owning

Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is

Strengths

  • +Well equipped
  • +Loses value more slowly than rivals
  • +PHEV's long electric range reduces BIK tax

Weaknesses

  • -Reliability could be better

The entry-level Mercedes GLC AMG Line will cost you more to buy outright than almost all its rivals in entry-level form, including the Audi Q5, the BMW X3 and the Lexus NX.

At least the GLC is predicted to hold its value better than the Q5 and X3, meaning that you should get more of your investment back should you decide to sell in three years. The Porsche Macan costs more to buy, but should hold its value vastly better than almost anything in the class. The PHEVs cost significantly more to buy than the cheapest NX 450h+ but only slightly more than an X3 xDrive30e xLine and XC60 T6.

For company car drivers, the PHEVs are well worth a look. With official electric-only ranges of around 80 miles, they sit in a lower BIK tax band than the X3 xDrive30e, the NX 450h+ and the Q5 TFSIe. We managed to cover a healthy 57 miles on a fully charged battery in our real-world test, beating the 30 miles achieved in an NX450h+ on the same day.

The GLC 220d diesel’s CO2 emissions are par for the course among rivals and it will attract hefty monthly tax rates, as will the 300 petrol.

The official fuel economy figure of the 220d is on a par with the X3 xDrive 20d and slightly better than the equivalent Q5. If you’re tempted by the 300 petrol, just bear in mind that it’s significantly thirstier than the diesels.

Regardless of which GLC trim level you go for, you’ll find plenty of standard equipment on the spec list. Indeed, even the entry-level Urban Edition comes with 20in alloy wheels, ambient lighting, LED headlights, heated sports front seats and two-zone climate control. It’s worth noting that Urban Edition is limited to the PHEVs.

AMG Line comes with smaller 19in alloy wheels, but adds electric front seat adjustment. It’s our favourite version and probably all you’ll ever need. 

AMG Line Premium sits next in the range and adds larger 20in alloy wheels, heat and noise insulating glass, keyless entry and start, blind-spot assist, a dashcam, traffic-sign assist, upgraded memory seats and parking aids.

Top-spec AMG Line Premium Plus adds a panoramic roof, four-zone climate control, a head-up display and an upgraded stereo system. 

The GLC scored five stars out of five for safety when it was tested by Euro NCAP. The Q5 and the Volvo XC60 also achieved five stars but it's not possible to compare their individual category ratings as the GLC was tested under a more stringent regime. All versions come with automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane-keeping assist and blind-spot monitoring. Traffic-sign recognition is standard on all trims except Urban Edition.

When it comes to reliability, Mercedes as a brand finished a disappointing 24th out of 32 car makers featured in the 2023 What Car? Reliability Survey. That was below BMW but above Audi, Jaguar and Land Rover. 

For some peace of mind, the GLC comes with a three years/unlimited mileage warranty, which is similar to most rivals. The PHEVs come with a six years/62,000 miles warranty for the battery. An alarm is standard on all versions with the ability to detect the vehicle being towed away and alert you through the Me phone app.

 

“The 80-mile official electric range of the GLC 300e might be unrealistic, but I have got almost 60 miles out of it, so it still has the potential to save you a lot of money on petrol ” – Doug Revolta, Head of Video


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Mercedes GLC interior infotainment

FAQs

  • Every version of the GLC comes with plenty of standard equipment, so we think you’re best sticking with the entry-level AMG Line model. Likewise, we recommend the entry-level 220d diesel engine because it has plenty of power and helps to keep the cost down. That said, if you’re a company car driver, you’ll want a plug-in hybrid (PHEV).

  • Yes. Even with the 220d diesel engine, the GLC remains quiet and shields you from engine, wind and road noise very well. The plug-in hybrid (PHEV) versions are the quietest, as they can officially run in electric-only mode for up to 80 miles.

  • The GLC plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models are the most efficient versions. You can have a PHEV with either a petrol or diesel engine.

  • Yes, quite a bit bigger. While the GLC is effectively the large SUV equivalent of the Mercedes C-Class it’s also larger than two other SUVs, the Mercedes GLA and the Mercedes GLB. Thanks to that, the GLC offers more space and better practicality.

At a glance
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Target Price from £49,395
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RRP price range £52,895 - £130,855
Number of trims (see all)8
Number of engines (see all)7
Available fuel types (which is best for you?)petrol, diesel, petrol parallel phev, diesel parallel phev
MPG range across all versions 28 - 706.3
Available doors options 5
Warranty 3 years / No mileage cap
Company car tax at 20% (min/max) £470 / £6,350
Company car tax at 40% (min/max) £941 / £12,699
Available colours