New Mercedes GLC takes aim at BMW X3 & Audi Q5

Long-awaited BMW X3 challenger revealed: the new Mercedes GLC will be on sale in October

We've been chauffeured around in a camouflaged prototype and seen countless spy shots, but it’s only now that Mercedes has fully revealed its BMW X3 and Audi Q5 rival, the GLC.

Replacing the Mercedes GLK SUV in its global line-up (a car that was never converted to right-hand drive or sold in the UK), the GLC is based on the same underpinnings as the new C-Class, but offers more interior space than the saloon and is claimed to have class-leading off-road ability.

• Mercedes GLC Coupe takes aim at BMX X4

Elements of the C-Class’ design are everywhere on the Mercedes GLC, from the converging creases along the flanks, to the soft-edged grille housing a huge three-pointed star. Unlike the smaller GLA, though, which takes the form of a lifted hatchback rather a true SUV, the GLC is more raised and rugged, but still cuts a sleek profile. In fact, at 4,656mm long, 1,890mm wide and 1,639mm high, it’s shorter, wider and lower than an X3.

Customers can choose between three exterior styling packs – standard bodywork, a version optimised for off-road use with better approach and departure angles plus underbody protection, and an AMG version with deeper bodywork and bigger wheels (up to 20-inches in diameter).

Anyone familiar with the C-Class’ cabin will feel at home in the GLC, which has a near identical design. Dominating the centre console is a tablet-style screen (controlled via a wheel and a touchpad with hand-writing recognition) perched above a trio of bulls-eye vents. A full-length panoramic roof is optional, and helps to accentuate the feeling of space in the rear; legroom is almost on a par with the E-Class, says Mercedes.

Boot space is virtually identical to rivals, at 550 litres with the rear seats in place, or 1,600 litres with the 40:20:40 split rear bench folded down – achieved by pressing a button mounted in the boot. However, to create another 30 litres with the bench in place, it can be locked in a more upright position. Order the optional Air Body Control air-suspension and the boot lip can be lowered by 40mm, plus the electric tailgate can be opened by waggling your foot under the rear bumper.

The GLC comes with steel springs and adaptive dampers as standard, and, of course, the optional air-suspension. The latter automatically drops the car by 15mm when you select Sport on the five-stage Dynamic Select system, and if you order the optional Off-Road pack can raise the GLC by 50mm for improved ground clearance.

With the Off-Road pack you also get five selectable modes – Slippery, Off-road, Incline, Rocking assist (to help extricate the car when it gets stuck) and Trailer.

From its UK launch in October, all versions will come with Mercedes’ 4MATIC four-wheel-drive system as standard and a nine-speed automatic gearbox, although a more affordable rear-wheel-drive model will follow in 2016.

While left-hand-drive versions have a permanent torque split of 45/55 front/rear, right-hand-drive UK models have a smaller front differential and therefore a 31/69 torque split. Mercedes claims that makes UK cars even more fun to drive.

Engine choices include a 168bhp 220d, returning 56mpg and 129g/km of CO2, a 201bhp 250d capable of 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds but with identical economy to the 220d, and a 208bhp 250 petrol. From December the GLC 350e plug-in hybrid will also be available. Combining a 208bhp petrol engine with a 115bhp electric motor, it can sprint from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds, and emits just 60g/km of CO2.

Prices range from £34,950 for the GLC 220d 4Matic to just over £36,000 for the GLC 250d 4Matic. A full-fat AMG version is unlikely, as the larger GLE and GLE Coupe will take care of that with an AMG-GT sourced 4.0-litre biturbo V8. 

Potential for Mercedes GLC 63 AMG Coupe

We got our first idea of the GLC’s styling from the GLC Coupe concept shown at the Shanghai show in April, but that wasn’t its only purpose. It previews a sportier sister car to the GLC that won’t be far behind. We spoke to Uli Zillmann, project leader for the GLC’s development, who told us: “The GLC Coupe is extremely interesting as it lets us have much sportier version with mixed tyre sizes, 20-inch wheels and sports suspension.”

And when we asked about the posibility of a full-fat GLC 63 AMG, using the new twin-turbo V8 from the C 63 AMG, Zillman clarified the strategy: “I don’t think a full AMG V8 version is right for the GLC, but perhaps something like that - like an AMG Sport model. Full AMG is a better fit for the GLC coupe.”

A V8-powered, compact SUV with coupe styling - now that would give the BMW X4 something to think about.

Check out our list of the top 10 best 4x4s you can buy now...

Recommended

Best 60s cars: the 30 greatest cars of the 1960s
Best cars of the 60s - header
Best cars & vans

Best 60s cars: the 30 greatest cars of the 1960s

The swinging sixties brought a vast array of unforgettable cars that would establish the path of the industry for decades to come. We pick our top 30 …
21 Jun 2021
Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door coupe gets a facelift for 2021
Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door 2021 facelift - front
Mercedes

Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door coupe gets a facelift for 2021

A small selection of visual and technological updates for the six-cylinder 53 and 43 variants of the AMG GT 4-door have been announced by Mercedes
14 Jun 2021
'Aston Martin CEO Tobias Moers doesn’t have to be popular, he has to deliver'
Opinion Tobias Moers
Aston Martin

'Aston Martin CEO Tobias Moers doesn’t have to be popular, he has to deliver'

Steve Fowler gets the inside track on Tobias Moers' future plans for Aston Martin
12 May 2021
New 2022 Mercedes EQS SUV spied for the first time
Mercedes EQS SUV
Mercedes

New 2022 Mercedes EQS SUV spied for the first time

Mercedes will soon expand its EQ line-up with a flagship SUV that shares the same Hyperscreen infotainment system as the EQS saloon
10 May 2021

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review
Volkswagen ID.4 GTX
Volkswagen ID.4 SUV

New Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2021 review

VW ID.4 EV gets another electric motor and four-wheel drive in hot GTX form
21 Jun 2021
New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review

The new Mercedes C-Class compact exec gets S-Class-inspired tech and new suspension to challenge the BMW 3 Series
21 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review
Volkswagen Caddy California MPV - front
Volkswagen Caddy

New Volkswagen Caddy California 2021 review

It’s a family hauler and weekend camper all rolled into one, but is the Volkswagen Caddy California any good?
21 Jun 2021
New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space
Peugeot 308 SW - front
News

New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space

The Peugeot 308 SW joins the hatchback in the range and arrives with two plug-in hybrid options
22 Jun 2021
New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech
Dacia Duster facelift - front
Dacia Duster

New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech

The budget-conscious Dacia Duster has been updated for 2021 with some subtle design tweaks and a new eight-inch infotainment screen
22 Jun 2021
‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’
opinion: charging
Opinion

‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’

Andy Palmer sees electric car uptake revving-up in the UK but says targeted investment is needed to prevent a stall…
22 Jun 2021
UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars
Electric car charging
News

UN report highlights ethical problems with electric cars

Analysis reveals lithium refining takes 65 per cent of Chilean region’s water, while 40,000 child miners dig for cobalt in DRC
14 Jun 2021
Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e
Fiat 500 vs Honda e vs MINI Electric
Car group tests

Fiat 500 vs MINI Electric vs Honda e

The new Fiat 500, MINI Electric and Honda e are three retro-inspired electric superminis - but which is best?
19 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron 2021  front
Audi Q4 e-tron

New Audi Q4 e-tron 2021 review

We get involved with the new all-electric Audi Q4 e-tron SUV on UK roads for the first time
17 Jun 2021
New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review
Skoda Enyaq iV 80 Sportline - front
Skoda Enyaq

New Skoda Enyaq iV 2021 review

The new Skoda Enyaq iV is the Czech firm’s first bespoke electric car and we've tested the full range on UK roads
10 Jun 2021
New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review
Nissan Qashqai 2021
Nissan Qashqai

New Nissan Qashqai 2021 review

We get behind the wheel of the larger, more comfortable and higher-tech Nissan Qashqai SUV in the UK
16 Jun 2021
Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review
Ineos Grenadier prototype
Ineos Grenadier 4x4

Ineos Grenadier prototype 2022 review

Can the Ineos Grenadier really fill the mud-splattered void left by the old Land Rover Defender? We take a first drive in a prototype to find out...
15 Jun 2021
New 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge EV on sale priced from £49,950
Volvo XC40 P8 Recharge - front
Volvo XC40

New 2021 Volvo XC40 Recharge EV on sale priced from £49,950

Volvo has revised the electric XC40’s pricing and trim-level structure, with a simplified three-tier system
22 Jun 2021