While taking photos of the new Mercedes-Benz GLC in the Red Rock Canyon area, near Las Vegas in the US, a 10-year-old kid approached me and asked the meaning of the three letters, GLC, inscribed on the rear door. Before I could get into specifics, he cutely replied: “Great Looking Car.” The GLC is, after all, one of the best-designed Mercedes-Benz SUVs. And this mid-life design update gives it fresh details, cleaner lines and sporty proportions in a compact package. The dual exhaust makes it look athletic, and the tail lights remind you of the previous generation E-Class lights. There is a lot of space inside the cabin. The boot space is really big for an SUV this side, and the rear seating area is also quite large. The steering wheel looks chunky, and there are soft touch surfaces everywhere.
An area where new Mercedes-Benz vehicles stand out is the ease of gear-shifting. The company has moved the automatic transmission selector as a stalk on the right side of the steering wheel. Rather than the standard PRND layout, the stalk has to be pushed up for ‘reverse’, and down for ‘neutral’ or ‘drive’ gears. A button at the end of the stalk puts the gearbox in ‘park’ mode. You have to get used to it, but it’s far more convenient than traditional shifters (between the front seats) because you don’t have to take your hand off the steering wheel to change gears. It also frees up space on the centre console.
In India, the new GLC is available in two fuel choices: the GLC 200 (petrol) and the GLC 220d 4MATIC (diesel). Power and torque figures for the petrol are 197bhp and 320Nm, while for the diesel are 194bhp and 400Nm, respectively. Both are mated to the nine-speed 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission. While we are yet to drive the diesel version, the petrol model we drove (GLC 300) isn’t too different from the one available in India (GLC 200). The former does produce more power and is quicker, but the latter is suited to Indian driving cycle and is more fuel-efficient.
The biggest changes are in the field of in-car technology. Enter ‘Hey Mercedes.’ The new GLC gets a feature called MBUX, short for Mercedes-Benz User Experience. It’s a combination of touchscreen multimedia displays, navigation with augmented reality, and voice control via the talk button or just by saying ‘Hey Mercedes’. Essentially, there are four ways to control the car’s features: little touchpads on the steering wheel, the tracepad on the centre console, touchscreen, and voice-command. Also, the MBUX navigation system gets the what3words location technology—a complex technology that leads to easy and accurate location input by voice.
However, while these changes are welcome, Mercedes-Benz India should have introduced semi-autonomous driving features in the GLC, at least as an option. The American model, for example, gets the Driver Assistance Package for just $1,700. It powers the car with features such as Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, which helps the car maintain a set speed in response to the flow of traffic ahead, and can even apply brakes automatically. Volvo India, after all, provides a similar technology in the more affordable and smaller XC40.
In India, the new GLC 200 is priced at Rs. 52.75 lakh, and the GLC 220d 4MATIC comes for Rs. 57.75 lakh (ex-showroom). The GLC 300 we drove in the US is priced starting $42,500. Coming back to the kid’s question, ‘G’ stands for Geländewagen (off-road vehicle in German language), ‘L’ likely denotes Leicht (light), and ‘C’ corresponds to this vehicle being the SUV equivalent to the C-Class sedan.
(This article is based on the GLC 300 that Mercedes-Benz sells in the US. The petrol model launched in India, the GLC 200, is more or less the same, with slight modifications to the engine, suited to Indian driving cycle. Also, for the Indian market there is a diesel engine option: the 220d.)