The Mercedes-Benz GLC received an update in 2019 and while this 220d 4Matic AMG Line boasts generous kerb appeal, we were keen to find out if the "entry-level" turbodiesel engine suited the package. Could this derivative be the pick of the range? Let’s take a closer look.
We Like: Styling, performance/economy balance, spacious cabin, practicality
We Don’t Like: Pricey (choose options carefully)
- Price: R931 980 (July 2020)
- Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel
- Power/Torque: 143 kW / 400 Nm
- Transmission: 9-speed automatic
- Fuel Economy: 5.4 L/100km
- Load Capacity: 550–1 600 litres
What is it?
In AMG Line guise, the GLC is quite the looker with optional 20-inch, 5-spoke AMG wheels and aluminium-look running boards.
The 2nd-generation GLC Executive SUV was first introduced in South Africa in 2015 and it has proven to be a popular choice in this segment, in which it competes with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Audi Q5 (the facelifted Q5 is due in SA in 2021), BMW X3, Range Rover Evoque and Volvo XC60, to name a few.
Perhaps a notable part of the GLC’s success – including being named the Executive SUV category winner in the 2017/18 Cars.co.za Consumer Awards, powered by WesBank – has something to do with the variety of derivatives on offer. In addition to the standard GLC, it's also available in Coupe form and comes with a choice of turbopetrol and turbodiesel engines. Moreover, those looking for more performance from their GLC can consider the AMG GLC 43 and the range-topping AMG GLC 63 S derivatives.
When the facelifted GLC was introduced in the local market during the second half of 2019, it came equipped with additional features as well as more refined exterior styling and a smarter interior. In AMG Line guise, the GLC has substantial kerb appeal, courtesy of the large 20-inch AMG 5-twin-spoke light-alloy wheels, aluminium-look running boards and the elegant star-studded, single-louvred grille. It certainly looks the part, but how does the GLC 220d 4Matic AMG Line perform overall? Let’s take a closer look…
How it performs in terms of...
Performance and efficiency
The GLC 220d strikes an good balance between performance and efficiency.
Turbodiesel engines may not be as ubiquitous in hatchbacks and sedans as they once were, but they remain popular in the expansive SUV segment because they tend to offer superior torque delivery (to better propel their bulky bodies) and return reasonable fuel economy, especially on long trips. These attributes certainly apply to the GLC 220d.
The Benz's engine bay accommodates a 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine that produces peak outputs of 143 kW/400 Nm and the latter figure, in particular, proves more than enough oomph to haul the GLC along at a fair pace. Should you want something more potent, there’s also a 180 kW/500 Nm version of this engine...
It’s a refined motor, which is to say that it’s not as noisy or gruff as older-generation diesels, plus the cabin is well insulated from mechanical noise. There is noticeable turbo lag under harder acceleration, but the GLC 220d gathers pace fairly quickly if you're in a hurry and there’s ample shove to execute quick overtaking manoeuvres on the highway.
There's enough grunt here for most and the GLC 220d proved to be competent out on the highway too.
The 9-speed automatic transmission shifts unobtrusively (for the most part) and the GLC 220d's steering-mounted paddles can be utilised to manually actuate shifts if you want to explore the full capability of the engine. There are 3 main drive modes at your disposal: Eco, Comfort and Sport, as well as Individual, which allows you to adjust the Benz's settings to your preference. We didn’t find that this GLC delivered a particularly sporty driving experience, but if you need to "press on", Sport mode livens up the drivetrain to an extent; the 0-to-100 kph sprint should take you a smidge under 8 seconds. Don’t expect any fireworks, however – this engine is far more suited to a relaxed driving approach.
The GLC is certainly a pleasant car to drive and live with and we are happy to tell you that it doesn’t fare too badly in terms of fuel consumption either... Mercedes-Benz claims a combined figure of 5.4 L/100 km and we saw returns of 7.4 L/100 km, without even trying to consistently feather the throttle for protracted periods. However, as you would expect, consumption does go up in conjunction with your enthusiasm and on our more energetic drives, the indicated fuel consumption edged closer to 10 L/100 km.
Ride and handling
Even with its stiffer sports suspension, the GLC 220d AMG Line rode quite comfortably on its 20-inch wheels.
As part of the AMG Line exterior package, this GLC is equipped with a sports suspension and while we were anticipating a stiff and jarring ride quality, we were pleasantly surprised by the suspension's pliancy. Sure, harsher road imperfections were felt to a degree, but the ride was never uncomfortable or unpleasant. There’s a fair degree of inherent firmness, which is appealing if you are taking the GLC for a spirited drive, but it’s still absorbent enough for the average commute. In that sense, this GLC is balanced.
As for the steering, it’s light and easy to wield in the city, but perhaps not weighty enough on more energetic runs, when we would have liked a bit more feedback/engagement from the 'wheel. Nonetheless, body roll is kept to a minimum and thanks to Mercedes-Benz’s 4Matic all-wheel drive, the GLC offers sure-footed handling that instil confidence.
Interior execution and features
This is a nice place to be, especially with a larger infotainment screen and optional digital instrument cluster.
Much like the exterior, there’s lots to like inside the GLC. Admittedly, this test unit came kitted out with a host of optional features. Therefore, it's a good example of the lofty level you could specify your GLC if you have some money to throw at the extensive (and mostly expensive) options list.
The GLC’s perceived interior build quality is good and we really like the black open-pore ash wood trim as an alternative to the gloss-black (or piano black, as it's more commonly known) finish. Meanwhile, the optional 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen, which is equipped with integrated navigation as well as Benz’s impressive MBUX electronic interface is a pleasure to use. It's Android Auto and Apple Carplay compatible and the menu layout is large and easy to read/navigate.
Using voice activation with the "Hey Mercedes" command is a good way to access functions such as navigation or dialling a person in your contact list, for example, without having to fiddle on the touchscreen or touchpad while you are driving. The touchpad in the centre console can be finicky to use at first, but with a bit of practice, it gets easier.
In terms of connecting and/or charging devices, a total of 3 USB-C ports and 2 at the rear (optional) were fitted to this GLC and it also came equipped with an optional wireless charging pad, which is a convenient way of charging your smartphone without a cable.
The larger infotainment system with MBUX is an option worth ticking.
Another interior highlight is the all-digital instrument cluster, which not only lifts the premium appeal of the cabin appreciably, but displays key information directly in front of the driver, plus the screen's layout and apperance can be configured to your preference using the mounted controls on the multi-function sports steering wheel. Overall, the digital instrument cluster and the larger infotainment screen combine to imbue this GLC's dashboard a premium look and feel.
The 220d test unit was also equipped with the Parking Package, which includes Park Assist. This feature takes the headache out of parallel parking by detecting a suitable parking spot and once activated, steer the vehicle into the parking bay safely while you manage the brake/throttle. A reverse-view camera makes it easier to manoeuvre the GLC in a tight space and the safety suite includes 7 airbags, ABS with EBD, brake assist, electronic stability control with traction control and ISOfix child-seat mounts.
The GLC passes the 6-foot-2 surfboard test with ease. There's space for much more in there.
The GLC is a practical choice in the Exective SUV segment; it offers a spacious cabin, particularly in terms of rear passenger space and enough room to load a variety of items.
Rear passengers are afforded excellent legroom and enerous head- and shoulder room. Rear USB-C ports (optional) are a good option to tick if you have kids that will need to entertain themselves on tablets or smartphones on longer journeys, plus a storage compartment in the central armrest, which of course folds out between the rear seats.
This 220d was equipped with an electronic tailgate as well as electrically-folding seats, which makes it effortless to flatten the rear seatbacks. Once down, there’s a large, flat area that you can use to load bulky or longer items. I personally use my surfboard to gauge the length of the load bay and my 6-foot surfboard was accommodated with ease. The load bay has a claimed capacity of 550 litres, which is impressive and with the rear seats down, space increases to 1 600 litres. The GLC's admirably practical.
Pricing and warranty
The Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d 4Matic AMG Line is priced from R931 980 and is sold with a 2-year/unlimited km warranty and a 5-year/100 000 km maintenance plan.
With that in mind, it’s worth knowing that this test unit is fitted with just under R200 000 worth of optional extras, which pushes the total price up to in excess of R1.1 million, which is very pricey indeed. Best you tick those options wisely, then.
Even though it can get pricey when loaded with options, the GLC ticks most (if not all) of the boxes for buyers in this segment.
There really is a lot to like about this GLC 220d 4Matic and in AMG Line guise it not only offers appealing packaging, but strikes a desirable balance between performance and efficiency. Yes, you can opt for the more powerful 300d derivative if you seek more performance, but as it stands, the GLC 220d is a well-rounded executive SUV that will satisfy the average buyer’s needs. If you want more, be prepared to pay for the privilege!
Performance aside, the GLC has a stylish interior and when equipped with all the digital gadgetry Benz has to offer in its Executive SUV, it really does look and feel like a premium, technologically advanced product. We were also impressed by the test unit's comfortable cabin, which doesn't skimp on rear-passenger space and offers a practical load bay that will readily swallow various items of differing sizes, all at once. You will be surprised by how much detritus you can fit inside the GLC...
The GLC 220d AMG Line, therefore, ticks most, if not all the boxes that buyers in this segment could want. The only chink in this particular GLC’s armour is its asking price and while its equivalent offerings such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X5 are similarly priced, the Volvo XC60 D4 AWD R-Design appears to be very competitively-priced at R781 700 and the Swedish offering is well worth considerating. We advise that you arrange to test drive all these Executive SUV models before signing on the proverbial dotted line.
Should you buy this GLC? We are inclined to answer that question in the affirmative, but the answer to that question will ultimately depend on you, your tastes and your budget. This Benz gave us very little reason to doubt its merits (other than its price) and we think buyers shopping in this segment should add the GLC to their shortlist.