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Driven: Facelifted Mercedes GLC touches down

Mercedes to retain stranglehold on mid-size-SUV segment as updated GLC arrives

15 Nov 2019

MERCEDES-BENZ Australia/Pacific (MBAP) is hoping to retain segment leadership with its updated GLC mid-size SUV, which ha a slimmed-down line-up due to the removal of turbo-diesel variants.


The GLC will also juke it out with the C-Class mid-size car as the best-selling model in MBAP’s range, with the two models jockeying for the position of most popular Benz model in recent years.


In 2018, the GLC topped the sales ladder for the brand with 5605 new registrations compared to 5055 for the C-Class, while through the first three quarters of 2019, the C-Class has the lead with 5229 sales to 4515.


Speaking to GoAuto at the launch of the updated GLC, MBAP head of media relations and brand engagement Jerry Stamoulis said the life cycle of the GLC and C-Class would influence which model is more popular.


“Because of its life cycle, it’s hard to tell,” he said. “Last year was GLC, but that was because we had a C-Class facelift, and this year we’ve got full-year C-Class and a GLC facelift, so C-Class is winning, so depending on what happens next year – yes, they’ll be full years, but C-Class is also coming towards the end of its life, so it’s hard to say.


“But SUV sales are strong, so maybe it will be GLC (being more popular).”


MBAP expects some cannibalisation from the upcoming GLB SUV set to arrive in the second half of next year, however the brand isn’t concerned as long as it leads to a sale.


The new range has been slimmed down over the previous line-up with the removal of the diesel-powered 250d and 350d variants, due to the declining popularity of the oil-burning powertrain over the last two to three years.


To help cater for buyers looking for the better fuel economy provided by diesel, MBAP is launching the petrol plug-in hybrid GLC300e grade, however potential buyers will have to wait until the second quarter of 2020 to purchase the PHEV version.


Mr Stamoulis said a general trend is being seen in MBAP’s passenger cars and smaller SUVs move away from diesel, with the brand constantly monitoring the viability of diesel in its model ranges.


“I think (the trend away from diesel) is here, it’s started, it’s happening now,” he said.


“And we’re constantly evaluating it. I think it comes to the size of the vehicle. I don’t think we’re announcing no diesels in GLS anytime soon, so there’s some vehicles we need to consider where it makes sense, and there’s no use bringing a car where we know there’s no demand.”


The GLC range will now open from $66,100 plus on-roads for the rear-drive GLC200, which has increased in price by $3800 over the outgoing version.


While the GLC200 is only available in wagon form, the GLC300, which replaces the GLC250, is available in both wagon and ‘coupe’ guise and is priced from $77,700 (+$6340) and $87,700 (+$5660) respectively.


MBAP expects the GLC300 to be the best-selling variant in the GLC range, which will sell at roughly a 60/40 split compared to the GLC200.


AMG-fettled versions are also on their way, starting with the twin-turbo V6 GLC43 available for $109,900 (+$6470) for the wagon and $117,400 (+$6510) for the coupe.


The manic, twin-turbo V8 GLC63 S is also back, now with a price cut that sees the wagon ask $161,000 (-$4035) and the coupe $168,100 (-$3940).


MBAP says initial deliveries of the AMG range will start at the end of this year, but meaningful volume will begin to come on stream in the first quarter of 2020.


Lastly, the GLC300e PHEV that arrives in Q2 is priced from $80,400, which places it squarely in the middle of the outgoing GLC250d and 350d, price-wise.


Both the GLC200 and GLC300 are powered by a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine and a nine-speed torque-converter automatic, with the GLC200 pumping out 145kW/320Nm, marking a 10kW/20Nm improvement over the old version.


The GLC300 turns up the performance wick to 190kW/370Nm – a significant improvement of 35kW/20Nm – while adding 4Matic all-wheel drive.


Meanwhile the new GLC300e also uses a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol engine tuned to 155kW/350Nm, mated to a 90kW/440Nm electric motor for a beefy combined output of 235kW/700Nm.


Using a 13.5kWh lithium-ion battery, the GLC300e sports a zero-emissions driving range of 43km on the WLTP cycle and can be recharged in two hours using a wallbox, contributing to an official fuel consumption figure of 2.2 litres per 100km.


The all-paw GLC43 continues to employ a 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 producing 287kW/520Nm – an increase of 17kW – and is mated to an upgraded nine-speed auto, while the 375kW/700Nm 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 GLC63 S continues unchanged, paired with a nine-speed dual-clutch transmission.


Some light styling changes have been applied to the range including standard, redesigned LED headlights and tail-lights as well as updates to the front and rear bumpers.


GLC200 and GLC300 wagon variants can be optioned with Mercedes’ Dynamic Body Control adaptive suspension – previously only available on the coupe – while the more expensive air suspension can also be chosen.


Inside, the GLC now comes standard with the MBUX multimedia system projected onto a 10.25-inch touchscreen display, paired with a customisable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. With the addition of MBUX, a touchpad controller and new steering wheel have also been included.


Standard kit in the GLC200 includes 19-inch alloys, a power tailgate, keyless start, sat-nav with live traffic updates, DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android auto compatibility, dual-zone climate control, Artico leather-accented upholstery, open-pore wood trim and ambient interior lighting.


Active safety kit across the range extends to autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring (BSM), rear cross-traffic alert, park assist, surround-view cameras, traffic-sign recognition and nine airbags.


The GLC300 bundles in 20-inch hoops, adaptive LED headlights, aluminium-look running boards, rear privacy glass, keyless entry, wireless smartphone charging and active safety kit including lane-keep assist, active BSM, adaptive cruise control and high-beam assist.


Coupe variants score additional spec including the aforementioned adaptive damping and the AMG Line package which bundles 20-inch alloys, enhanced exterior styling, a flat-bottom steering wheel, sports pedals, floor mats and tyre pressure monitoring.


The 300e mirrors the specification of the GLC300 wagon while adding air suspension and cables necessary for recharging.


Hi-po GLC43 AMG versions gain a number of performance features including AMG Ride Control+ suspension, speed-sensitive steering, AMG brakes, 20-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, black exterior trim, a glass sunroof, a windshield-projected head-up display, a Burmester sound system, heated front seats with memory functionality, leather upholstery and illuminated ‘AMG’ front scuff plates.


Top-spec 63 S versions push the envelope further with the addition of an AMG Performance 4Matic+ AWD system with fully variable torque distribution, a rear electronic limited-slip differential, active engine mounts, an AMG Performance bi-modal exhaust system, 21-inch alloy wheels, three-zone climate control, an AMG Performance sports steering wheel and Nappa leather and Dinamica microfibre upholstery.


Unique exterior highlights are also applied to AMG versions.


Ten paint colours are available across the range, while new leather colour combinations are offered for the upholstery.


To the end of September, MBAP has only sold two less GLC wagons than last year with 4515 units, while coupe sales are down 42 units to 738.


It remains the best-selling premium mid-size SUV ahead of the BMW X3 (3734) and Audi Q5 (2940).


2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC pricing*
GLC200 wagon (a) $66,100
GLC300 wagon (a) $77,700
GLC300e wagon (a) $80,400
GLC300 coupe (a) $87,700

*Excludes on-road costs


2019 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 pricing*
Wagon (a) $109,900
Coupe (a) $117,400

*Excludes on-road costs


2019 Mercedes-AMG GLC63 S pricing*
Wagon (a) $161,000
Coupe (a) $168,100

*Excludes on-road costs

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