While it’s true to record that the GLC-Class shares a platform with the C-Class, it’s a poor description of the design and engineering effort put in by Mercedes in order to make its new SUV stand out in an increasingly crowded segment.

The car’s body-in-white is a mixture of aluminium and high-strength steel and features structural reinforcements normally seen only on cabriolets and convertibles.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior

Road test editor
The GLC’s hybrid aluminium and high-strength steel construction makes it lighter than the GLK it replaces

Such a construction has allowed the GLC to grow by 120mm in length and 50mm in width compared with the GLK and still weigh 80kg less, model for model.

Our scales had the car at 1965kg with fuel and fluids – slightly more than the most recent like-for-like versions of the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 we weighed, but not by much.

Suspension is multi-link all round, consisting of significantly wider tracks than the GLK and steel coil springs and passive variable-rate ‘selective’ dampers as standard.

Ground clearance is 181mm, and although AMG Line examples have firmer sport suspension springs fitted, they don’t affect the car’s ride height.

An off-road package delivers another 20mm of ground clearance, improved clearance angles and an underbody guard.

Mercedes also offers height-adjustable air suspension that can extend ground clearance to as much as 227mm, which trumps all of its rivals bar the only one that also offers optional air suspension: the Porsche Macan.

Under the GLC’s bonnet, British buyers are restricted to two different versions of the same four-cylinder, 2.1-litre diesel engine, with the GLC 220 d producing 168bhp and the GLC 250 d pumping out 201bhp.

The only petrol option on offer is the GLC 43 which has been tweaked by Mercedes’ loving AMG division. This twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 behemoth produces 361bhp and comes fitted with an AMG bodykit, alloys and decals inside and out.

However, Mercedes has indicated that the GLC could benefit from a plug-in and non plug-in hybrids, a hydrogen fuel cell version and even talk about turning the coupé into a cabriolet.

Power is transmitted via a standard nine-speed automatic gearbox through a permanent four-wheel drive system with a 45% front to 55% rear apportioning of power.

The car’s aerodynamic efficiency is claimed to be class-leading, with particularly attentive radiator and headlight sealing and underbody panelling contributing to a drag coefficient of just 0.31. That, in turn, is alleged to contribute to particularly strong refinement, along with stiff chassis mounting points, spray-on aerosol NVH insulation and an as-standard acoustic windscreen.

On styling, the GLC is a trail-blazer for Mercedes’ all-new design idiom, which, in its own words, ‘prefers sensual purity to squarer conventional SUV forms’. The car’s visual subtlety was certainly approved of by most of our testers. 

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