Among the many cars Mercedes-Benz launched in India in 2015, the C-Class stood tall and strong in the midst of all of them becoming the most popular luxury car in the country. It was possible because the C-Class is an executive luxury sedan, loaded with features of super luxury spaceship.
The success of the C-Class gave Mercedes a viable reason to enter a brand new product to the Indian market with the introduction of the GLC-Class. The GLC is an SUV based on the same platform as the C-Class. Hence the ‘GL’ prefix for SUV design with the ‘C’ suffix signifying the platform. India never got the GLK-Class which means the segment is an unchartered territory for Mercedes-Benz.
So the new GLC is supposed to be perfect vehicle by being offered in a popular segment while meeting a growing SUV market’s needs. But is it any good? I decided to find out first hand if the GLC can stand shoulder to shoulder to the competition and compliment the success of the C-Class.
The GLC literally looks like the elder brother of the GLA and the younger sibling of the GLE in size and styling. At the front you get the three pointed star logo on the twin slat front grille, flanked by LED intelligent headlight with cornering features and daytime running LEDs. The rear tailgate looks similar to the GLA but with hints of the GLE in the wrap around intelligent LED tail lamps. The tail lamps are also pretty unique, because the LEDs are so bright, the car adapts to the lighting conditions so as to not make the driver following behind feel like they suddenly stared directly into the sun when you brake.
The GLC’s cabin gets the similar dash layout and features like the C-Class sedan. Things like the floating 7-inch infotainment screen that can be controlled by the COMMAND Online touch sensitive system. Its not the most user friendly interface in the world, and the navigation is relatively difficult to comprehend and to set up properly, but it does look cool though. Below the screen you have the three metal touch finished air vents with the dual zone climate control buttons for the front passengers below on the floating high-gloss brown wood finished centre console. Followed by a panel of quick menu select buttons which makes the infotainment system a tad bit easier to use.
The GLC has significantly more space in the cabin in every aspect like shoulder room, knee room, elbow room and head room compared to the outgoing GLK. The interior is laid out pretty well and the materials are nothing but beautiful. It comes with many features and creature comforts like electronically adjustable front seats with three memory function, keyless entry with push-button stop start, multifunction steering wheel with binocular styled instrument cluster, three colour mood lighting, and most of the upholstery is covered in beautifully stitched Artico leather in addition the party piece - the panoramic sunroof. The rear seats are also very comfortable for the passengers with ample all round support and the ride is pretty good for the passengers sitting in the back as well. They also get dual AC vents with a separate climate control.
The GLC will be offered in India with two engine options - a 220d diesel and a 300 petrol. We drove the 1991cc petrol version which is a four-cylinder, longitudinally mounted motor mated to a nine speed automatic gearbox. The engine develops 245hp and 370Nm of torque helping the car reach 100km/h in 6.5 seconds and a top speed of 222km/h.
Getting to the real business, how is the GLC to drive. Well first the seating position is pretty high and you can easily adjust it to have the perfect posture, while the seats are very comfortable with great under thigh, side and shoulder support. For long and short drives, the GLC is terrific in terms of comfort. But when it comes to the driving, there are some bits that I didn’t like about it. The engine comes with five ‘Dynamic Drive select’ modes. Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ pre-sets with an individual option to tailor different aspects of the car separately. The engine feels refined but it seems that the 9-speed gearbox it comes mated with, don’t get along very well.
In ‘Eco’ mode, the engine revs till low rpms and shifts up gears fairly quickly, but the ride is a little bumpy. The ‘Comfort’ setting gives the best ride quality while also keeping the engine and transmission alert. In ‘Sport+’ mode, the engine wants to rev up, but the gear box just doesn’t seem to be able to cope very well with it. It’s like the transmission seems quite enthusiastic at first and it keeps shifting up and down thanks to its multiple number of gears, but its just not smooth enough. The gear changes are pretty harsh when upshifting and it’s the same story with using the paddle shifters. Though the power is transferred well to the 18 inch wheels, its just not the most joyous thing to drive only because of the gearbox.
The happiest the car felt was in ‘Sport’ mode. The engine responds the best to the throttle inputs in Sport. The gearbox also felt pretty comfortable and the ride quality didn’t seem compromised in anyway. The steering as well felt pretty heavy in all settings, but the laziness of it was cut down significantly.
However, it’s a different story off-road. The ride height of the car can be raised to increase its already significant ground clearance by 20mm. The GLC can also be tailored to three settings for the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system to ‘Off-road’, ‘Incline’ and ‘Slippery’. In all three modes, the car reacts very well to different surfaces. Be it rocky roads, loose surface, or wet grass, the car’s traction control finds the grip and keeps it going. Inclines aren’t much of an issue and with ‘Downhill Speed Regulation’ or DSR, going down a steep hill can also be done very confidently. Another party trick for driving off-road at night, when you switch the car to Off-Road mode, the headlamp modules pan outwards by 6? for a wider field of view while driving in the dark.
So in a nutshell, the GLC is a very good car that seems perfect for Indian roads and consumers. Good looks, high ground clearance and an engine with sufficient amount of power. Even though the powertrain and drivetrain are going through a rough patch, it can be overlooked as in city conditions, this factor wont matter much. The car is loaded with features, and safety equipment that is too long to list in addition to the seven airbags. What it all boils down is the pricing of the GLC.
Currently the car will be brought in as a CBU in both petrol and diesel versions, so that will shoot the price of the car up quite a bit. We expect the car to hit around the Rs. 50 lakh mark and for that price, we will just have to wait and see how the markets responds. But like the GLA that came in a couple of years ago, if the Indian market responds well to the car, Mercedes might just decide to assemble the car in India, thus bringing the price down. It’s a good strategy, but will it work? That is the question.
- Mercedes-Benz GLC
Engine: 1991cc / 4-cylinder/ 16 valve
Transmission: 9G-Tronic 9-speed automatic / 4Matic All Wheel Drive
Power: 245hp @ 5500rpm
Torque: 370Nm @ 1400-2800rpm
0-100 km/h: 6.5 seconds
Top Speed: 222 km/h