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Used Mercedes GLC review

A full used buyer’s guide on the Mercedes GLC covering the GLC MK1 (2015-date)

The Mercedes GLC was a long time coming, but this arguably gave its maker enough time to get it right first time. With its smart design, standard four-wheel drive and efficient engines, along with a very slick transmission, the GLC was a class act. Like any car wearing the three-pointed star, it wasn’t a bargain and, going by our Driver Power survey, running costs are high, while reliability isn’t always everything it should be. But there are also plenty of owners who adore their GLCs thanks to the way it can effortlessly despatch long journeys, tow a caravan and accommodate a family of five with their luggage. If you want a serious off-roader, look elsewhere, but if you need a capable carry-all for the family, the GLC will do the job.

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It took Mercedes over 90 years to launch its first mainstream SUV, but when the G-Wagen arrived in 1979, it was still years ahead of the first 4x4s from other premium brands such as Audi, BMW and Volvo.

However, the G-Wagen was built as a true go-anywhere off-roader – and seriously compromised on-road. In the time that it took Mercedes to come up with a more road-biased SUV, some rivals had stolen a march.

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That car came in 1998 in the form of the ML-Class, forerunner to the current GLE. Below this sits the GLC – a car which, in first-generation (GLK) form, was never sold in the UK. We had to hold on until 2015 for a compact Mercedes SUV – but was it worth the wait? 

Models covered

  • • Mercedes GLC Mk1 (2015-date) - It’s not the cheapest option, but the GLC is a fine all-round family SUV.

Mercedes GLC Mk1

History

The first GLC SUVs arrived in the UK in September 2015. Only a 168bhp 220 d and 201bhp 250 d were available at first, both with a 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel engine; trim levels were SE, Sport and AMG Line.

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A year later a GLC Coupé was launched with the same engines, but by December 2016 both models were available in 350 d form, with a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine; the GLC 43 AMG was also introduced, with a twin-turbo 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine.

For those who craved as much power as possible, the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63 and GLC 63 S (standard SUV and Coupé) arrived in April 2017 with 470bhp and 503bhp. The next year, a GLC 250 petrol joined the range.

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A facelifted GLC will arrive shortly, in GLC 220 d and GLC 300 d forms, both with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine.

Mercedes GLC reviews

Mercedes GLC in-depth reviewMercedes GLC 220 d reviewMercedes GLC 250 d reviewMercedes GLC 300 d reviewMercedes GLC 350 d reviewMercedes GLC 250 reviewMercedes GLC 350 e reviewMercedes GLC 43 reviewMercedes GLC 63 S reviewMercedes GLC Coupe in-depth reviewMercedes GLC 250 d Coupe reviewMercedes GLC 300 Coupe reviewMercedes GLC 43 Coupe reviewMercedes GLC 63 S Coupe review

Which one should I buy?

Diesels still make the most sense, with the four-cylinder units giving good performance and strong economy. If you can stretch to a six-cylinder, you’ll have effortless muscle without having to spend a fortune on fuel.

The petrol cars are nice enough, but cost far more to run thanks to their greater thirst, and road tax is higher on early models, too.

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All GLCs are well equipped, with the SE featuring 17-inch alloys, a powered tailgate, reversing camera, DAB radio, privacy glass, automatic wipers, seven-inch display, keyless go and climate control. Sport adds power-fold door mirrors, park assist, 18-inch wheels, heated front seats and sat-nav. AMG Line has 19-inch alloys, sports suspension, body styling and artificial leather trim.

Alternatives to the Mercedes GLC

The GLC faces stiff competition, including the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Both offer user-friendly cabins with excellent build quality, efficient engines and good performance.

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If you’re considering a GLC Coupé, the closest rival is the BMW X4, which is easy to recommend for the same reasons as the X3.

Another tough adversary is the Land Rover Discovery Sport, which differs from the two German models because it is available with seven seats.

Two other alternatives are the stylish Volvo XC60 and Jaguar F-Pace. Don’t overlook more value-oriented options, either, like the Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe.

What to look for

Tyre scrub

Some owners report problems with significant amounts of tyre scrub when turning their GLCs on full lock at low speed.

Tow car

The GLC is a highly accomplished tow car. All diesel-engined models are capable of pulling loads weighing anywhere up to 2,500kg.

Suspension

Steel suspension comes as standard on the GLC, but the optional air suspension improves comfort and handling, so is worth having. 

Brakes

Some owners have suffered from squeaking front brakes; a fresh set of brake pads should fix this rather annoying problem.

Interior

It’s all rather busy in here, but the design is appealing, most functions are intuitive and the materials generally look and feel in keeping with the price. Space is fine rather than spectacular, and rear head and leg room are adequate, but the transmission gets in the way of anyone in the middle of the back seat. Boot space is a decent 550 litres, or 1,600 litres with the 40:20:40 seats folded. 

Prices

Running costs

GLCs need servicing every 15,500 miles or 12 months, alternating between minor and major, at £260-£270 and £360-£370. Fit new air and fuel filters every three years (£200), a dust filter every other year (£40) and a fresh gearbox filter and oil every five years (£360-£380).

There are no cambelts to replace and no set period for replacing the coolant. Mercedes offers transferable service plans for all GLCs, starting at £32 per month.

Recalls

The GLC has been recalled 16 times, first in December 2015 for possible leaky fuel pumps. Further recalls were for ESP systems, overheating starter motors, seatbelt pre-tensioners and airbags going off wrongly.

There were also campaigns for panoramic sunroof glitches, airbags failing to go off in an impact, and emissions problems due to faulty software.

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The GLC didn’t make it into the 2018 Driver Power used car survey, but it was 61st in this year’s new car poll. In most categories the GLC scored either very well or very poorly; owners love the engines and transmissions, practicality, infotainment and safety features. But they don’t like the running costs, the ride and handling or, rather worryingly, the build quality and reliability.

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