Cliffs to Corners - 2023 Mercedes Benz GLC 300 4Matic
Automotive nomenclatures these days can be confusing. So if you're not a Mercedes Benz purist to start off with, we'll be talking about the all-new GLC, the SUV of the C-class platform. A car that picked the cult of executive sedans turned SUV and shot it through the roof, especially in India. The popularity that this car has in India is magnanimous.
We've had all the variations of the GLC over the years since its launch in 2016. My favourite is the GLC43 AMG coupe with the twin-turbo, 3-litre, inline 6-cylinder engine that sounded orgasmic, to start off with and was pretty tight to drive. It was an absolutely enjoyable experience being behind the wheel of it every day doing things I would usually not do with cars with a ground clearance enough to fit myself.
DOES IT DRIVE LIKE THE C-CLASS?
The older generation of the standard GLC however, had dynamics as a priority somewhere in the middle of the list of its priorities. It was a pretty substantial car for the price and the takers loved the way it rode. The suspension was soft and cushy, and the overall comfort quotient shouted more E-class than actual GL or C, which is a great thing.
But GLC's prime rival is the BMW X3, and where the X3 has always been a corner carver in the German executive car lineup, the GLC has always found a spot with sweet and slow drivers. This has changed and how.
Say Hello to the X254 2023 Mercedes Benz GLC a car that has been built to annihilate the BMW X3 at a race track while you're cocooned with your family in its illustrious cabin.
Yes! As much as I sound insane associating a GL-branded car with a race track I am equally serious about how the character of the GLC has changed over the X253 generation and how big of a difference it makes for driving enthusiasts.
First off, Mercedes Benz has thrown the Independent McPherson Coil Springs with the anti-roll bar that was fitted to the front wheels out of the damn window and has now installed potent Four-link suspension with Coil Springs instead. The extra link on the lower arm is for the dynamic handling of the GLC which was solely missing from McPherson with a longer
strut and heavier single swing arm. At the rear too gone is the multilink suspension and the Four-Link suspension shows up here too.
The overall experience of driving the GLC in sports mode is closer to the W206 C300d than the outgoing GLC which is fascinating. Although Mercedes Benz markets its suspension setup on the official brochure as 'Comfort Suspension', the stiffness of the chassis united with the new suspension setup is more suited to performance driving than outright cushy driving on rough roads.
Not that the suspension is harsh on rough roads, but that cushiness is still typical Mercedes-Benz. It is just when you're driving at the peak of its performance, hard enough to make you slide out of the corner, the GLC feels very tight a character that competes it with the BMW X3 for the better.
The M-254, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol engine in the GLC 300 4Matic produces 258 bhp or max power and 400 Nm of max torque, which is sent to all four wheels via a 9-speed 9G Tronic gearbox. The Mild Hybrid Integrated Starter Generator (ISG) pushes this engine with a boost of 23 bhp and 200 Nm additionally at hard acceleration giving an overall output of 281 bhp and 600 Nm.
The steering feedback too has gotten tauter, and there is a good amount of communication happening between the front wheels and the steering, which ups my experience as an enthusiast driver. The steering feedback also has improved because the rear track is now sitting at 164 mm which is about 2.3 mm wider than before and 1.3 mm wider than the front track which was not the case in the previous generation where the rear axle was narrower than the front, supplying less mechanical grip on the rear end.
Lastly, the torque distribution of the 4Matic system has gone a little more biased to the rear in high-ratio driving modes. From a 45:55 distribution ratio, the GLC now gets a 40:60 split which enhances the driveability especially when you're feeling like a hoon with a winter cap on. It's a fantastic corner carver that pleases the mechanical grip freak by quite a margin.
Mercedes-Benz chose to discount loud cuts and creases and retain the timeless outlook to design in their popular cars. Bastian Baudy, chief designer for the GLC, unlike Gordon Wagner, likes his lines simple and suave and it has worked wonders to keep the love high for GLC fans.
There is a sense of crispiness in the way everything is put together, the curves look bold and the shut lines are tight making it closer to appeal like the W206 C-class sedan. I like the wrap-around tail lamps with the black element in between joining both the assemblies with a flair. There is quite a lot of chrome on the GLC but it does seem to get overpowered by the black bits on the edges of the panels making it look less glamorous and more masculine.
The lines on the bonnet too enhance the masculinity quotient by a good margin and the frowning headlamp design gives it an aggressive stance, even when standing still. The 19-inch alloy wheel design too are pretty bold in terms of design and will age gracefully with the overall stance of the car.
ON THE INSIDE.
The 2023 GLC is a sanctuary of extravagant things. The moment you step inside you're greeted by two ubiquitous ginormous touchscreens, which have airconditioning controls always available in the corners and the graphics are supremely crisp and intuitive. After the demise of the user-friendly iDrive from BMW the MBUX has made life easier and then some.
The current generation MBUX is one of the best Multimedia Interfaces inside a car, as the screens are properly engineered to suit every driver's size and reach from the driving seat and has almost all important function just one touch away.
What I am not a big fan of, however, is how Mercedes Benz has done away with the buttons and rotor knobs, replacing them with haptic touch controls which are an absolute pain to operate, especially when you're doing triple-digit speeds. Luxury is synonymous to making life easier for the driver and the passenger, one this note however, things are pretty south.
The seats although, are a complete departure from before. They are more supportive, with larger bolsterings for the thighs and the back and farther adjustabilities to suit all sizes of drivers as well as passengers. I love how the under-thigh support extends out quite a bit making long-distance journeys very comfortable indeed.
Similarly, the rear seats are pretty supportive and cushy. You get nice and wide back support and good enough under-thigh support to keep you at ease over a long-distance trip. There are adjustable roller blinds for the side windows and a wide enough central armrest which has soft padding to keep your arms in sheer comfort. The headroom is amazing and the full panoramic sunroof does filter in quite a lot of natural light into the cabin making the proportion of the cabin look expansive.
However, as much as the rear seats are biased to the comfort of the passengers, at this price point it does not get an airconditioning module to control the fan speed and temperature as standard which can get a little bothersome mostly when you have someone who likes driving with minimum fan speed on a hot summer day.
POINTS TO PONDER
The GLC is more biased towards driving pleasure than outright peak comfort like the previous generation.
The M254 engine is one of the creamiest turbo petrol engines in the segment and has excellent vibration and harshness damping.
The steering response is crisp making it closer to the X3 in feedback.
It churned out an overall fuel economy of 19 kmpl in our highway run of about 200 kms averaging a rolling speed of 80 kmph.
In the city, the fuel economy is between 9 to 10 kmpl if you drive easily.
The 640 L boot is massive and can accommodate 5 large suitcases with ease.
A full tank range of 1000 kms can be achieved if you drive it easily and keep the engine in the steam on long-distance trips.
The Burmester sound system has excellent low notes, song with higher pitch might sound frilled.
MBUX is extremely easy to use and one gets going with all the functions in it within minutes.
The adaptive headlamps are a boon to use in the night, especially when you're in the mountains where it is pitch dark in most places.
Lack of a heads-up display does feel short-changed.
The price is a tiny bit steep for a GLC, bringing it erringly closer to an E-class.
The GLC is playing trump cards with the best in the industry right now. It has got the correct elements to make it an enthusiast's delight but at the same time, there are elements which might pull a few buyers away, especially the price. If you keep that factor aside, the GLC is one of the top cars to buy as it supplies more thrills than what meets the eye. A proper off-roading test is due, and we've left for our story further in the weeks, so keep yourself posted.
_____________________________________________________ Mercedes Benz GLC 300
1994 cc / inline-4
9-speed Automatic Gearbox
4Matic All-Wheel Drive
258 bhp @ 5800 rpm
400 Nm @ 2000 rpm
0-100 kmph in
6.2 seconds ( claimed )
6.4 seconds ( tested )
240 kmph of top speed
L x B x H : 4716mm X 1890 mm x 1640 mm