Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: May 30, 2017
Click here for the Chinese (中文) review.
It took me a while to warm up to the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300, a whole week in fact.
Let me explain.
In my eyes, the GLC 300 is too soft and delicate looking. As the successor to the popular GLK, I expected a more substantial looking crossover. The GLC 300’s curves are more bulbous than razor sharp, the headlights take on more circumference, and the sheetmetal looks like you could turn the front hood into a slide for toddlers.
Though the GLC has a longer wheelbase and is a bit wider than the GLK, it doesn’t do much for its anonymous exterior design. In reality, looks are subjective and I’m sure there are many who adore this fluffier new design language. It just doesn’t tug at my heartstrings the same way a Jaguar F-Pace or a BMW X3 does.
Nevertheless, the optional AMG Night Package ($2,100) that was loaded on our tester did spruce things up a notch, with 19-inch wheels, and a blacked out front grill, side mirrors, window surround, and roof rails.
Only when I hopped into the cabin and snuggled into the seats did I begin to develop emotions for the GLC. With what is possibly the best cabin design in the segment, the GLC 300 offers quite a lot of appeal to every kind of consumer. The center “waterfall” stack steals the show, with a large pop-out infotainment screen perched on the dash, followed by three large vents underneath and a swooping panel that envelops the cupholders, buttons, and dials.
To make way for that design, the traditional gear shifter has been replaced with a column-mounted stalk like they have on pick-up trucks. The physical stalk doesn’t feel flimsy or cheap, but it doesn’t offer drivers that same whimsical sensational as wrestling a gear into D.
The steering wheel may look like the one in the cheaper CLA 250, but it’s thicker and feels more generous, like that feeling you get what you’re served more noodles than your friend at the ramen bar. There’s also expensive switchgear everywhere you look - the window switches are my favourite, offering that “oooooohh” tactile feedback when pressed. And GLC owners would be happy to hear that it's the same switchgear used in more expensive products (and I mean double and even triple the price) like the S Class and AMG GT.
A few gripes: there’s no analog clock fitted into the dashboard like they have on other Mercedes-Benz models. The COMAND infotainment system is wonderful and easy to use, but the scrolling dial and redundant touchpad up top can give first-time users a bit of a headache. And the “waterfall” design in the center stack is disrupted by the cupholder compartment panel that swings upward whenever you need to store any phone, wallet, or beverage inside, which is I don’t know, all the time. Furthermore, the steering wheel is slightly off-center, meaning you’re facing more to the left of it, making for a minor but awkward driving position.
But while we’re on the topic of the driving position, I’m happy to report that it’s a lot better than the GLK. The seats are more adjustable, they can be lowered a lot more to the ground, and they’re more comfortable and better bolstered. For those wondering where the seat controls went, they’ve been relocated up to the side door panels - very Jaguar-like.
It’s got a roomy rear bench seat as well, with outstanding head- and leg-room, thanks in part to the slight expansion in wheelbase and width from the outgoing GLK. You sit a bit lower than other crossovers though, which is slightly exacerbated by the high windowsills.
I would spend the extra $1,000 for the upgraded Burmester stereo system, which sounds much better than the stock audio, and I would also forget about the aluminum running boards ($750) unless you really have a hard time hopping into SUVs - the boards stick out quite a lot and will get the back of your pants dirty if you try and step up and over it when exiting the vehicle.
Not only does the GLC look like a jacked-up C Class, but it drives like one too. Riding on the same platform as its “C” sedan sibling, the GLC similarly offers a soft and floaty ride. Though a bit firmer than expected, the GLC 300 has good road manners and can be optioned out with an Air Body Control air suspension to level it out further. All-wheel drive is standard fare.
The powertrain is quiet and undisturbing as well, with respectable outputs from the GLC 300’s turbocharged four-cylinder, which produces a healthy 241 hp and 273 lb-ft, more than enough for your everyday commute and weekend punch through cottage roads. Most of the power is found mid- to high-range despite having a turbocharger, but once the GLC 300 does get going, it packs a V6 punch.
The 9-speed transmission does a phenomenal job tracking down the optimal gear for fuel efficiency, and when Sport Mode is selected, it will change its job to holding them instead. The 9-speed isn’t as smooth as the one programmed in the E 300 we tested last year, though. I found that the GLC’s would lurch and hesitate between shifts (especially first and second), but largely goes unnoticed when smooth sailing at higher speeds.
The GLC 300 is nothing spectacular from a “sporty” point of view, but then again you’d be missing the point. I’ve begun to notice that the GLC 300 isn’t about screaming road presence or bragging about 0-100 km/h times. Rather it’s about a certain level of comfort and luxury, with the perfect balance of subtlety and tastefulness.
The ride is rather dramaless and some one of my staff editors even called it “too easy”, but isn’t that what you want in a no-frills everyday commuter, an unconflicted “easy-mode” to get to your destination? Sure there’s less excitement here than the howling supercharged V6 from the Jaguar F-Pace or the burbling Porsche Macan, but the GLC 300 is a car that will settle you down, lower your blood pressure, and rid you of commuting stress. It’s a proper SUV through and through in its own tranquil bubble.
For those who need a little more drama from their silver star, there’s a GLC 43 waiting for you with a more powerful bi-turbo V6. Want more style and are okay with sacrificing cargo space? There’s a GLC Coupe too. Don’t forget about the fire-breathing GLC 63 as well with the same V8 as the C 63. So it seems there’s a GLC for everyone.
For myself then? A GLC 300 will do just fine. None of the options above take me to such a calm and settled mindset. It just took a week for me to realize it.
型号 Model: 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4MATIC
顏色 Paint Type: Polar White
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $45,150
試車售價 Price as Tested: $57,450
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,873
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,656 / 1,890 / 1,644
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,815
引擎 Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder
最大馬力 Horsepower: 241 hp @ 5,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 273 lb-ft @ 1,300 - 4,000 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 9-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 11.1 / 8.5 / 10.0
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.2