If I asked you to describe the current Mercedes-Benz GLK compact crossover in one word, what would it be?
I personally would describe it as a brick.
If I could choose another, then it would be “old-fashioned” because the GLK looks like a stereotypical SUV with chunky, squared-off wheel arches, and a three box design which mostly resembles a brick on wheels, with little to no aerodynamic advantages.
But, there is good news on the horizon because soon, the old-fashioned and chunky GLK-Class will be replaced with a more modern and attractive crossover in the form of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class.
The new 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class is the closest we will ever get to a C-Class wagon here in the United States. Like the previous GLK-Class, the new GLC-Class of crossovers are based on the architecture of the C-Class compact luxury sedan and borrows a lot of design elements both inside and out from its C-Class cousin.
With the compact crossover market more popular than ever in the U.S., the new GLC could not be more important to Mercedes-Benz. The GLC adopts the “sensual purity” styling elements that have spread across the Mercedes-Benz lineup over the past two years. The new design language translates into more dynamic body lines, a more aerodynamic roofline, bolder fenders, and a more flowing look overall when compared to the GLK it replaces.
I believe, with confidence, that the new GLC is nothing more than a C-Class wagon on stilts.
When the Mercedes-Benz GLC arrives on our shores later this year, it will be available with only one engine and one transmission, but the buyer will have the option to choose between rear-wheel-drive or the optional 4 MATIC, all-wheel-drive.
The new GLC 300 is powered by the same 2.0 L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine found in the base Mercedes-Benz C 300. The engine is tuned to produce 241 horsepower at 5500 RPM and 273 lb.ft. of torque between 1300-4000 RPM. The only transmission available is new Mercedes-Benz developed 9-speed automatic gearbox.
When equipped with the optional 4 MATIC all-wheel-drive system, the torque split is fixed at 45% to the front axle and 55% to the rear axle. Brakes are power assisted vented discs on all four corners with Anti-Lock Braking System or ABS.
The standard suspension on the new 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC is a multi-link setup with variable dampers. But, for a few additional dollars, the customer can upgrade from the standard coil-overs to air suspension.
When equipped, the air suspension and the firmness of the shocks can be adjusted by the driver via a dial-type controller on the center console.
Mercedes-Benz says that after the initial launch of the new GLC-Class here in the States, it will add more engine choices to the lineup throughout 2016, including a 320 horsepower GLC 350 e plug-in hybrid, which offers an electric-only driving range of 21 miles.
Like the GLK-Class, expect a V6 and a diesel powered 4-cylinder to return as well. However, unlike the GLK-Class, the new GLC-Class crossover will feature a new top-of-the-range, twin-turbocharged V8 AMG variant as well.
Well, the short answer is “everything.” The new GLC is nothing more than the second generation of the GLK, but the differences are so dramatic, if you compare the two cars side by side, you will swear that the two crossovers are totally different from one another.
Once you look at the new GLC, you will forget about the fact that the GLK even existed.
Compared to the GLK, the new GLC is 4.7 inches longer, 2.0 inches wider, and 0.3 inches taller. The wheelbase is lengthened by 4.6 inches, the front track is 1.9 inches wider and the rear track grows by 0.8 inches.
The growth of the GLC has resulted in an additional 2.2 inches of rear legroom, an increase of 2.2 inches of front elbow and shoulder room. The cargo space has increased and the rear door swings open by an additional 1.3 inches at the bottom, thus enabling easier ingress and egress for the rear occupants.
The GLC features a longitudinal engine layout and is based on a rear-wheel-drive chassis, which is unique in a segment full of transverse mounted engines and front-wheel-drive based crossovers.
In Europe, the new Mercedes-Benz GLC will see two different bumper styles, but all U.S. bound GLC models will be fitted with off-road bumpers that give the CUV an approach and departure angle of 28 degrees.
Ground clearance increases by almost an inch.
The skeleton of the GLC is constructed with a combination of aluminum, high and ultra-high strength steel, and plastic body components, and when combined, help lower the weight of the GLC by almost 110 pounds compared to the old GLK. Additional weight has been reduced in the suspension, the transmission casing, and other areas, which contribute to an overall weight reduction of 176 pounds to that of the GLK.
If you have sat in the new C-Class, then the interior of the GLC will feel very familiar to you. The overall cabin layout has been copied from the C-Class to the GLC-Class and all the important buttons are either placed on the steering wheel or in the center console, well within reach of the driver.
Standard interior trim is brown linear-grain linden wood, but it can be replaced with piano black, burl walnut, or black open-pore ash wood trims. Standard seating surface is MB-Tex faux leather, but can be upgraded to two grades of genuine leather. For a more premium interior feel, two Designo decors are also available.
Like the new C-Class, the headlights can be completely lit by LEDs and an off-road lighting setting offers broader illumination of the terrain ahead.
Like all other Mercedes-Benz models, the GLC will feature a host of standard and optional luxury amenities like multi-color ambient lighting, fragrance atomization, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, heads-up display, panoramic roof, active park assist with steering assist, 360 degree parking camera with front and rear cross-path visualization, radar cruise control with semi-autonomous steering, and foot operated power lift gate.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class comes fitted with up to 9 airbags including a driver’s knee airbag. The front passenger seat is equipped with auto child-seat recognition, which uses a weighing mat rather than a sensor, to deactivate the airbag when a child seat is installed.
Other safety systems include collision-prevention assist, blind-spot warning, and lane-keeping assists.
The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 and 300 4 MATIC will arrive on U.S. shores this fall and will be priced similar to the current GLK. The base GLC will start at less than $40,000, but a loaded model can cost as much as $60,000.
When the more powerful engines and the AMG variants arrive next year, expect another difference in price.