2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC Test Drive Review
‘Hey Mercedes!’ — that’s the big update on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC, addressing the single biggest drawback on the mid-size luxury SUV — the infotainment. Appropriately we start off our drive at Mercedes-Benz’s sprawling R&D centre in Bangalore, and a centre of excellence in the Mercedes universe for digital engineering and IT where, among the topics the 10,000 engineers work upon, is the new MBUX operating system for the infotainment. Gone is the old COMAND system and in its place comes snazzy new graphics, a more intuitive menu system, a 10.25-inch touch screen, a new touch pad on the centre console with haptic feedback and conversational voice commands. Say, “Hey Mercedes, I want to eat biryani”, and it will find the closest biryani place and navigate you to it. It’s favourite song is Janice Joplin’s "Hey lord won’t you buy me a...”, well what else, Mercedes-Benz. And it has some pretty strong opinions on its competition!
Competition? There’s the BMW X3 and X4, Audi’s Q5, Volvo’s XC 60 and Land Rover’s Discovery Sport so there’s no lack of competition in this space. Yet the GLC is still the best-seller. In fact in the Mercedes India line-up the GLC is the second best selling vehicle after the venerable E-Class.
Visually, GLC gets a mild facelift
You will notice the new graphics in the slimmer headlamps, more chrome on the bolder twin-slat grille, more aggressive bash plates on the re-profiled bumpers, better looking 19-inch alloys and LEDs for the taillamps. It’s of course the blink-and-you-will-miss it variety but the GLC was always a good-looking SUV and these updates only make it better, especially in this shade of red.
On the inside you get the new 10.25-inch touch screen but there are no digital dials, the GLC making do with regular analogue dials. Everything else, the space, the seats, the panoramic sunroof, all carry over and if you want the all-black interiors you’ll have to spec the exterior colour in white, everything else is beige.
Oh, and you can now thrown in more suitcases in the boot! Feedback from India has resulted in space under the boot floor for the space saver spare so it no longer is strapped in the boot eating into luggage space. Added features include wireless charging, keyless start and an automatic tailgate.
New BS6 diesel
Well, not new really. This is the same engine in the rest of Merc’s BS6 compliant diesel range and now that the BS4 GLC has emptied out of showrooms, in comes the 1950cc diesel for the bold new BS6 era. Good news is the power is up by 18bhp to 191bhp and on the road you can feel the added grunt of the motor. What you definitely notice is the refinement is better and for a Mercedes that’s an even stronger talking point than the 0-100kmph acceleration time of 7.9 seconds. Along with the 400Nm of torque that peaks as low as 1600rpm (and stays flat till 2800rpm) the GLC never seems to run out of breath and always has enough in reserve. The transmission is the 9G-Tronic that shifts as quick and smooth as you’d expect of a Merc gearbox.
Two-wheel drive, detuned and lower priced petrol
That’s the big news on the GLC and the drop in power probably explains why there were no petrol GLC’s on these first media drives. Actually, I’m probably just jumping to conclusions since, with 194bhp, the GLC 200 isn’t underpowered (on paper) by any stretch. Being a turbo-petrol torque is also strong at 320Nm and the 0-100kmph time is one tenth of a second quicker at 7.8 seconds compared to the diesel. It will also be more refined and sound better when hot-footed.
Detuning the petrol from the GLC 300 to GLC 200 has enabled a sizeable Rs 5 lakh price drop, and aiding that price drop is the switch from 4Matic to two-wheel drive. The petrol GLC no longer gets AWD but, the good new is, the GLC is not front-wheel but rear-wheel drive. Heck, that means the petrol GLC might end up being more fun to drive than the 4WD diesel, while also undercutting it on price. This could be the pick of the range and I cannot wait to drive it.
Fun to drive!
When it was launched my biggest criticism of the GLC was its stiff ride quality and that was addressed to an extent when local production started at it switched from run flats to regular tyres. This updated GLC remains unchanged in that respect and continues to be good fun to drive, delivering good grip, fairly good steering and enthusiastic manners on the twisties going up the Nandi Hills on the outskirts of Bangalore. Drivers will really enjoy the GLC.
That said, the GLC is not the best suited to be chauffeur driven because of the firm ride quality that does faithfully transmit all that’s going on with the road surface. Even small speedbreakers and ruts deliver a firm jolt, reminding you that the driver’s seat is the best seat in the house.
A volume driver
The GLC 220d, priced at Rs 57.75 lakh (ex-showroom), is Rs 1.3 lakh more expensive than the outgoing model and that represents good value considering the new infotainment and tweaks to the styling. But the GLC200 petrol at Rs 52.75lakh (ex-showroom) is even more enticing, being Rs 5 lakh cheaper than the outgoing petrol GLC and retaining all the equipment, all the styling, everything that the diesel has to offer. A winner? I am sure!