Mercedes-Benz has one of the widest luxury SUV/crossover ranges in the industry and at almost any given time, one or another of them is being superseded by an all-new model. For 2016, it’s the turn of the GLK to fade away, replaced by the new GLC.
When it was launched, the GLK was a new direction for Mercedes-Benz - a fairly compact SUV that didn’t lack any of the comforts of larger products in this class from the Stuttgart automaker, but could still handle a trail or two. I remember being very impressed by the GLK and got to drive one under some very demanding off-road conditions. It’s been a very popular product, especially with people who like the idea of an SUV, but don’t want anything too bulky and difficult to park.
The GLK was a fairly boxy design and reminded me of a downsized version of the near-legendary G-Class Mercedes “Gelandewagen” that’s still being built after many decades. The GLC is sleeker and more curvy than its predecessor and overall, a very successful styling job. Naturally, it has the big three-pointed star on the front grille, which must be one of the most recognized (and respected) logos on the planet. The rig is based on the C-Class sedan platform, so it’s very well proven.
Many of the key features of the GLC come from the C-Class, including full LED lighting and wheel options ranging all the way up to 20-inches. According to Mercedes-Benz, it’s lighter than the GLK by almost 200-lbs, so fuel economy should be improved for weight reasons alone. Powering the new Merc is a peppy and responsive 2.0-litre four-cylinder with a turbocharger. It develops an impressive 241-horsepower and on the road, the GLC drives very well and when needed, it will take off like a sports car. It generates 273 lb-ft of torque too.
It’s quite amazing how manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz have gotten so much performance out of relatively small engines, which years ago would have been considered modest for a compact sedan. The turbo helps to be sure, but there’s a lot of other technology toiling away under the hood too. According to some reports, there will be an AMG version with a V-6, but most owners will be more than happy with the four-cylinder. The engine gets the power to the rubber via an electronic transmission with no less than nine speeds. It also has steering wheel mounted paddle shifters for a certain level of manual control when desired.
The interior is trimmed to the usual Mercedes-Benz high standards and is a delight to just look at. There are a great many switches and controls to be dealt with on a well-optioned version, but owner familiarity would take care of that after a few weeks. In many ways, the interior mirrors that of the C-Class sedans, which is no bad thing at all. Naturally, the GLC comes with a long list of electronic safety and stability aids, so it should be a very safe vehicle to live with.
It’s a great vehicle to drive and exceptionally smooth and refined in terms of ride comfort. Handling is great too and the 4Matic all-wheel drive is there to help if things really get slippery. While some people would consider the GLC more of a crossover than an SUV, I wouldn’t hesitate to take it out on reasonably surfaced backroads. It’ll handle gravel and mud with surprising ease and no doubt snow too. It’s a wonderful all-rounder at a very reasonable price and could easily become Mercedes’ best-selling vehicle in the SUV/crossover class.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Four-door compact SUV/crossover
ENGINE: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
TRANSMISSION: 9-speed automatic with manual paddle shifters
TOWING CAPACITY: 1,558 kg
FUEL ECONOMY: Not available yet, but said to be better than GLK
PRICE: Starting at $44,950 MSRP