THERE ARE a handful of premium SUVs that Australia just can’t seem to get enough of due to their practicality and everyday luxury appeal: the BMW X3, Volvo XC90 and Audi Q5, to name a few. But despite their popularity, there is one that consistently seems to make leaps and bounds ahead in popularity and interest: the Mercedes-Benz GLC. Since we first laid eyes on it in Australia around eight years ago, this gorgeous medium-sized SUV has continued to be a best-seller. So the launch of a new model is a big, deal.
Arriving in a single variant only, the second generation GLC 300 aims to continue the beloved model’s legacy, albeit at a higher price—not uncommon when you take a peek at the features and technical advances now on offer. Importantly, the strategy around the new GLC is an all-killer no-filler approach; especially when it comes to standard equipment. You see, where some marques are offering consumers pages and pages of choice, boxes to tick and additional confusing options, Mercedes-Benz has done the opposite to make life easy.
Off the bat, there’s a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass, Head-Up Display, electrically adjustable and heated seats up-front, remote tailgate, keyless entry and AMG Line aesthetics in and out—even the 20-inch AMG bi-colour alloy wheels and larger front brakes come standard. Then, there is a highly advanced 360-degree camera system (including an ‘invisible bonnet’ view), to make navigating parking, tight laneways and driving on tough terrain a cinch. Plus, all the safety equipment one would expect from the marque—10 airbags, autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, speed sign recognition and more. There is one option box for the tech-heads, however, and includes a suite of the more advanced software elements, such as a mean Burmester 3D surround sound system, adaptive high beam assists, and heat and noise-insulating acoustic glass. Plus, the MBUX Augmented Reality for Navigation which combines navigation information with its cameras to display real-time traffic information on its large central display. Very cool.
Now, we know that the GLC just might be another SUV to some—we get it, there are a lot of them. And I’ve been guilty of that too, especially in this very crowded category. But to drive, the GLC is a surprising bit of joyful and highly refined kit. Under the bonnet is a 2.0-lire turbo engine, aided with a new 48V electrical system. If glitchy start/stop features on cars drive you insane, this more advanced version of the technology will be a reprise to your nervous system, I promise.
The addition of the electrical mild hybrid system is a clever in that it has major benefits across assisting with fuel efficiency, low-speed serene gliding in traffic and can enable a small boost of output—offering a bit more flexibility within the rev range. In numbers, this equates to a total output of 190kW/400Nm. In a practical sense, its sharp, smooth transmission, all-wheel-drive traction and focused steering make it very fun on the open road and very pleasant in urban environments.
Seeing as though we’re entering road trip season, the true test these days for a be-everything-to-everyone SUV isn’t just handling, smooth ride and road noise attenuation—though it far exceeded my expectations in those categories too—but comfort and practicality. With this in mind, the GLC 300 is slightly longer than its predecessor, and therefore has 50 litres more luggage capacity (bringing it up to 620 litres)—enough for an overnight bag, a dog bed, and a decent Black Friday kitchen appliance haul, speaking from experience. While its road presence is incredibly elegant and sophisticated, the interior feels spectacularly comfy, even on long drives. It follows the bar set by the lovely C-Class and prioritises haptic elements over buttons and switches, so it appears clean, futuristic and uncluttered. Mercedes-Benz’s use of materials is always a nice highlight that elevates what could otherwise be a bit dark and meh, with woodgrain options and my personal favourite, the signature metal weave trim.
After running errands, shipping friends around and making mad dashes in and out of the city, it’s not hard to see why the GLC 300 is a global stunner. It brings the best in Mercedes-Benz appointments, within a package that isn’t too big, too small or too brash. But it’s also just very practical. And while the sportier GLC 300 Coupé—considered a standalone model, not a variant of the SUV—will also be coming down under soon, the GLC SUV shows that when it comes to merging lifestyle needs, with luxury aesthetics and technology and a lovely drive, Mercedes-Benz just gets it. Even at $103,370 (MRLP), we suspect it’ll be hard for to topple the GLC 300’s crown for at least another generation.