This Brilliant Blue shade is one of the two new colours on the 2021 GLC
This Brilliant Blue shade is one of the two new colours on the 2021 GLC2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC

2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC 200: First Drive Review

The Mercedes-Benz GLC gets a minor tech bump to hit the ground running in 2021

The Mercedes-Benz GLC hasn’t been around for too long. It was launched in 2016, and has since become the highest-selling SUV in the Mercedes-Benz India lineup. In the last five years, the GLC has been through a series of updates. The most recent one added MBUX, gave it a fresh face, a few more luxuries and BS6-compliant engines. Just over a year later, we have this 2021 GLC. There isn’t too much new here – almost nothing cosmetic, but there are quite a few cool features added to an already very extensive list. So, let’s dive right in.

Styling on the 2021 Mercedes GLC is identical to the outgoing one
Styling on the 2021 Mercedes GLC is identical to the outgoing one2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC

The updates

The major updates on the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC are related to the tech onboard, so let’s talk about those first. There is now a 12.3-inch display in place of the analogue dials of the outgoing GLC. The screen is crisp, gets very bright (enough to hurt your eyes!) and has buttery-smooth animations. It can also be customised quite extensively. There are three main styles to choose from — Progressive, Classic and Sport. These styles don’t have any additional functionality attached to them, so you can pick whatever floats your boat. I personally prefer the Sport dials, because they lend an AMG-like look to the cockpit. The instrument cluster layout has two dials on either side and a central information readout. Out of these, the central info readout, and what would be the tachometer dial (on the right), can be customised to show a map, music information, trip information or driving data and even g-forces. You can’t have a fullscreen map like on the VW Group cars, but it is definitely one of the most configurable and intuitive systems out there.

Alongside the digital instrument cluster sits the 10.25-inch infotainment screen, running the latest MBUX software. The screen isn’t new, but it does get some additional functionality. The first is the 360-degree camera system. The cameras provide a high-resolution view of your surroundings, and there are quite a few different views to choose from, including a top-down view of the car. It also has active guidelines that bend depending on your steering angle to show your trajectory. Nothing radical, but a welcome addition nonetheless.

360-degree cameras offer quite a few different views
360-degree cameras offer quite a few different views2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC

Another feature integrated into the infotainment display are the front massage seats. Yes, there are now massage seats on a GLC. In fact, the 2021 GLC is the only Mercedes-Benz in India to come with front massage seats as standard. Even the mighty G-Class requires you to tick a box and drop some extra long greens for it (Rs 3.45 lakh). The massage function on the GLC has two programmes — Wave and Pulsating. The two aren’t very different from each other, and aren’t very configurable either, since you can’t change the intensity of the massage. But that isn’t too much of a drawback, the massage function works well and either profile should keep your body more activated on long hauls or help you wind down after a long day.

The massage function works via a set of inflatable air chambers in the seats
The massage function works via a set of inflatable air chambers in the seats2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC

The 2021 GLC also adds some extra Mercedes Me features including the ability to remote start the engine, pre-cool/pre-heat the cabin and even honk the horn from the app. The app also lets you customise the aforementioned digital instrument cluster right from your phone, and also pre-select what ambient lighting colour you’d like the next time you drive it. The app itself is very easy to use, intuitive and that helps it become more useful, and less of a gimmick. Mercedes has also obviously spent considerable time developing the app, because there aren’t any major bugs or glitches.

However, the biggest change to the Mercedes Me app is the Alexa and Google Home integration. This allows you to speak directly to your smart speaker, and ask questions like “Alexa, Ask Mercedes to start the engine”, and your GLC will fire up remotely. With more and more smart appliances flowing into the market, from lights to switches, it only makes sense for your most expensive appliance to be part of the ecosystem.

Aside from this, the GLC now comes in two new colours — Brilliant Blue (pictured) and High Tech Silver.

Driving impressions

The 2021 GLC is mechanically unchanged from the 2020 model, continuing to offer a 2-litre turbo-petrol and a 2-litre diesel. We’re driving the petrol variant, which produces 194bhp and 320Nm of torque and is paired to a 9-speed automatic which powers the rear wheels only. The 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is available only on the diesel.

There's enough adjustment in the seats to help you find a comfortable driving position, but a memory function is missing
There's enough adjustment in the seats to help you find a comfortable driving position, but a memory function is missing2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC

Since this is mechanically identical to the outgoing car, I’ll keep the driving impressions brief. In short, the GLC is plenty of fun to drive. There’s a healthy punch from the petrol engine, paired with an enthusiastic engine note, and the 9-speed automatic works rather well. In Comfort, there can be a slight lag between you flooring the throttle and the car picking its skirt up and running, but it isn’t too bad and it does get a move on once you do get going. Mercedes claims a 0 to 100kmph time of 7.8 seconds for this GLC 200, which is fairly quick for a luxury SUV. Talking of luxury, the ride isn’t as supple as you might expect. Tiny imperfections make themselves apparent and larger bumps and potholes will require you to slow down, if your passengers are prone to complaining. That stiff ride does help the GLC’s handling characteristics though, and it feels a lot more suited to be a driver’s car, not a chauffeur’s car.

The GLC is a rather nice car to drive
The GLC is a rather nice car to drive2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC

This point is also fortified with the rear-seat space, which isn’t lavish. You’re not digging your knees into the seat in front, but there isn’t enough room to stretch out. It does have a fairly large boot though, and that adds to the practicality of the GLC.

You can click here for our full review of the 2020 GLC.

Pricing & Rivals

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC starts at Rs 57.4 lakhs for this GLC 200. The 220d 4Matic costs Rs 63.15 lakh, (all prices ex-showroom, India). This makes the 2021 GLC approximately Rs 2 lakh more expensive than the outgoing one. It certainly justifies the larger sum with its larger feature list and minor tweaks. The GLC goes up against rivals like the BMW X3 and the Volvo XC60 and sits somewhere in between the two, in terms of pricing and positioning too. The BMW starts at Rs 61.8 lakh which is slightly more than the base GLC, but it does get a nicer cabin and drives equally well, if not better. The Volvo XC60 starts at Rs 59.9 lakh, but it hasn’t been updated in a while now and although it isn’t exactly ‘dated’, it isn’t the cutting-edge offering it once was either. Audi should be bringing in the 2021 Q5 to India very soon and that should spice up things in the segment.

The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC is certainly a handsome SUV
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC is certainly a handsome SUV2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC

Changes to this 2021 GLC aren’t groundbreaking. But, if you think of this as an iPhone 11 ‘S’, and not an iPhone 12, it starts to make sense. Don’t fall for the ‘all-new’ marketing lingo, the 2021 GLC just adds a few sprinkles to an already very competitive offering and that is not a bad thing. So, if you were planning to buy a GLC, there hasn’t been a better time to empty the piggy bank.

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