German automaker’s resident premium crossover is shedding its conservative skin

Mercedes-Benz has pulled the covers off of the updated GLC-Class ahead of its world debut at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. The premium compact crossover is on the receiving end of improved aesthetics and a fruit basket’s worth of new tech features. Mercedes has always touted the GLC-Class as a fresh gateway model to some of its more premium SUVs, and, for the most part, the updated model looks the part of one. Following its debut in Geneva, the GLC-Class will go on sale in Europe in the middle of the year. As for us in the U.S., you’ll have to wait a little longer as the crossover isn’t scheduled to hit our shores until the latter part of 2019.

Update 03/14/2019: We’ve updated this review with fresh images of the 2019 Mercedes GLC that we took during the 2019 Geneva Motor Show. Check them out in the gallery at the bottom of this page!

Exterior

  • New headlamp and taillamp designs
  • More chrome bits in the front and rear
  • New lights technologies available as options
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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m impressed with the changes Mercedes-Benz made in the design of the GLC-Class. I get it that it’s just a light refresh of an already existing model, but there are some changes! Notable ones, too! When we saw spy shots of the crossover last year, I noticed that the crossover’s light signatures in the front and rear were different, specifically the daytime running lights. Turns out, even the standard LED headlamps look different now. They’re smaller and more raked than they were before, and the contours have also been modified to fit the changes. They look a lot like the headlamps in the A-Class and CLS-Class.

Look closely at them and you’ll realize how much more aggressive the GLC-Class looks now.

If the standard setup isn’t your cup of tea, you can opt for the LED Intelligent Light System, which is available as an option. Score this setup and you’ll also receive Active Curve Illumination and Adaptive Highbeam Assist.

The GLC’s signature grille with the double louvres is still there, but with more chrome elements than its predecessor. Speaking of which, the updated GLC benefits from a generous amount of chrome in the front and rear, specifically in the skid plates. Visually, these chrome elements help give a nice aesthetic pop to the GLC in ways that were lacking in the previous model. Down below, the front bumper has three, small rectangular sections, one less than the number in the previous GLC. The corner intakes in the new model are smaller, too, and less provocative than the ones in the old model.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
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The GLC-Class’ overall shape didn’t change much, though there are certain angles where the crossover looks a lot smoother along the edges.

Maybe it’s the angle or the lighting of the press photos, but there seem to be less rough edges in the SUV’s design. The GLC-Class looks cleaner as a result, though certain elements like the creased hood also shine the spotlight on its sporting profile.

Over at the back, the big changes are the same. The taillights look different, in part due to the pair rectangular lamps in each side. The integrated exhausts feature more prominent outlines, too. The visual updates in this section aren’t heavy in the eyes, at least when you look at them separately. But look at the rear fascia as a whole and you’ll notice that it looks more upright now. One of my pet peeves with the old GLC was that it had a rear end that looked droopy as if it didn’t want to be seen by anybody in public. Now, the entire section looks more confident and self-assured in its own skin.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
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Technically, the updated Mercedes-GLC Class is still the same model. But with a little nip here and a little tuck there, it looks more polished than it’s ever been.

Shouts to Mercedes for working on the little things in the crossover’s exterior. These design details are probably inconsequential on their own, but put them all together, and it’s like looking at a model that just got out of the shower, all freshened up and ready to go.

Interior

  • New MBUX infotainment system
  • "Hey Mercedes" feature is available
  • More available trim options
  • Cargo room doesn’t change
2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
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Step inside the updated Mercedes GLC-Class and you’re looking at an interior that, well, is mostly the same as its predecessor.

The layout is the same, though there's a handful of equipment that is revised for the updated model, one of which is the multifunction steering wheel.

It’s actually available in two versions, including one with a sportier-looking spoke design conveys a sportier character.

Trim choices like Natural Grain Grey Oak and Natural Grain Walnut offers a fresher look on the cabin. That’s definitely an option to take, but if you don’t have the scratch to afford one, you’re not going to miss out completely. That’s because the GLC-Class, despite the interior looking the same, has one of the most well-appointed cabins in its class. The quality of the materials is fantastic as soft-touch surfaces dominate the whole section. The standard features, ranging from the wood trim to the leatherette upholstery to the heated front seats are natural fits in the GLC-Class.

In many ways, the interior of the GLC-Class punches above its own weight class. It’s very Mercedes-like in a way that it looks like it belongs in any of Mercedes’ more expensive models. That’s a testament to Mercedes’ commitment to providing the best to the crossover. You’re getting more in the interior than what the model’s suggested retail price.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
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Storage space isn’t an issue, either, at least if you’re not looking at the competition.

The GLC-Class comes with about 20 cubic feet of cargo area when all the seats are in their upright positions. Fold the rear suits and the cargo area expands to a tidy 56.5 cubic feet.

Those figures are adequate relative to the segment. Unfortunately, they fall way short than what the GLC’s two main competitors — the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3 — offer. The Q5, for example, offers as much as 26.8 cubic feet of cargo space when the seats are up and 60.4 cubic feet of space when the rear seats are folded. Those are impressive numbers, but the real champ in this category is the X3. Bimmer’s resident crossover ranks among the class leaders in this category, thanks in large part to its 29 cubic feet of cargo space when the seats are upright and a whopping 63 cubic feet of cargo room when they’re folded.

It’s clear that Mercedes is picking its battles here. Fortunately, what the GLC lacks in comparable cargo area, it more than makes up for with a new infotainment system. Yes, friends. The Mercedes GLC-Class comes with the latest MBUX infotainment system.

In standard form, the MBUX infotainment system comes with a 10.25-inch free-standing display. If that’s too small for your liking, you can opt to avail the optional — and bigger — 12.3-inch version.

Visually, the new MBUX also offers three designs that represent three different moods of the interior. The “Classic” is what it is. Those who already own a GLC should be familiar with its look and layout. If you’re looking for a more high-contrast look, the “Sports” design should suit your mood. Then there’s “Progressive,” which comes with a much more modern look that reflects the newness, so to speak, of the updated GLC.

Accessing the new MBUX infotainment system can be done in a variety of ways, too. If you don’t mind leaving your fingerprints on the multimedia display, touch-control is the most direct way to do it. The tried-and-tested touchpad on the center console is another way to do it, but if you can’t be bothered to do either, the MBUX Interior Assistant’s ability to understand and carry out orders through voice and gesture movement recognition is the way to do it. Remember the “Hey, Mercedes” commercial featuring the all-new A-Class from Super Bowl LIII? The updated GLC-Class now has it, too.

Drivetrain

  • New 2.0-liter four-cylinder "M 264" engine
  • 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque
  • Replaces old "M 274" four-cylinder engine
  • Available Driver Assistance Package
2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
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The updated Mercedes GLC-Class will return with its usual lineup of engines.

The good news is that a [new] engine has been added to the mix.

This engine comes in the form of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder unit that produces 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The engine connects to a nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission, which, in turn, sends the power to all four wheels of the crossover courtesy of Merc’s 4MATIC all-wheel drive system.

Mercedes didn’t release any performance details but since this new engine — it’s called internally as the “M 264” - replaces the “M 274” engine, the performance numbers shouldn’t be too different from what that unit made. Obviously, we should expect faster times for the updated GLC-Class since the old 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged unit only produced 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. Since the old engine was capable of catapulting the GLC-Class from 0 to 60 mph in around 6.5 seconds, our expectations are that the new four-cylinder engine can do the same in the lower six-second mark.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
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The new four-cylinder engine will power the GLC 300 and GLC 300 4MATIC trims of the U.S.-spec GLC-Class. These two trims join the GLC 350e 4MATIC in the GLC family. The hybrid version employs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and a plug-in hybrid electric motor. Together, the powertrain produces 315 horsepower. That translates to a 0-to-60-mph time of 6.2 seconds.

If you’re looking for more power out of the GLC, you’re going to have to venture into the realm of Mercedes-AMG where the AMG GLC 43 and the range-topping AMG GLC 63 reside.

The former packs an AMG-enhanced 3.0-liter bi-turbo V-6 engine that produces 362 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. The engine unit is connected to a nine-speed AMG speedshift automatic transmission that helps the SUV accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds. Then there’s the big boy of the bunch: the AMG GLC 63. It’s the only version in the GLC-Class family to use a V-8 engine — a hand-crafted 4.0-liter biturbo V-8 engine — producing a tidy 469 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque. It’s equipped with the same nine-speed AMG speed shift transmission as the AMG GLC 43, but it can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, almost a second quicker than its little brother.

Diesel engines are no longer part of the GLC menu here in the U.S., but over in Europe, diesel engines are still available, specifically for the GLC220d variant with 170 horsepower on tap and the GLC250d with 204 horsepower to play with.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
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The GLC’s new four-cylinder engine goes hand-in-hand with a suite of driver assistance features that are included in Mercedes’ Driver Assistance Package.

The usual features that we’ve come to know — Active Lane Keeping Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function — are included in the package, but there are some notable ones, as well, that we should keep in mind. The Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC system, for example, comes with a variety of functions, including braking for stationary vehicles and an expanded automatic restarting system that works in concert with the Active Parking Assist system. This system works best specifically in slow-moving traffic. When the Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with Route-Based Speed Adaptation is activated, the updated GLC can recognize incoming traffic and adjust its speed as a precaution. That’s one of the many functions of this new system, and it’s an example of the many cool things that are included in Merc’s Driver Assistance Package. A lot of the systems work together to ensure that when you’re driving the new GLC, you’re getting the best of Mercedes’ newest safety technologies.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC drivetrain specifications

GLC 200 4MATIC GLC 300 4MATIC GLC 200 d 4MATIC GLC 220 d 4MATIC GLC 300 d 4MATIC
Cylinders/arrangement 4/in-line 4/in-line 4/in-line 4/in-line 4/in-line
Output (kW/hp) Combustion engine 145/197   190/258 120/163 143/194 180/245
Output of electric motor (kW) Energy Recovery Boost 10 10 - - -
Peak torque Combustion engine (Nm) 280 370 360 400 500
Peak torque Electric motor (Nm) 150 150 - - -
Fuel consumption, combined (l/100 km)[1] 7.4-7.1 7.4-7.1 5.5-5.2 5.5-5.2 5.8
CO2 emissions, combined (g/km)[1] 169-161 169-161 145-137 145-137 153-151

Prices

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
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Mercedes has yet to announce pricing details for the updated GLC-Class so, at the moment, all we can do is revert to the prices of the current lineup of GLC models that are out in the market. The current Mercedes GLC-Class carries a starting price of around $40,700 for the GLC 300 trim and $42,700 for the GLC 300 4MATIC. That prices shoot up after that, beginning with the GLC 350e, which costs $49,990. Opt for the AMG twins and you’re looking at damages to your wallet amounting to $57,000 for the AMG GLC 43 and $70,800 for the range-topping AMG GLC 63.

Needless to say, a spike in price is all but certain for all versions of the GLC-Class. Mercedes hasn’t indicated how much the price spike is going to be, but expect the base model to cost a little more now, possibly around $42,000 to $44,000. All other trims should follow suit.

Competition

BMW X3

2018 BMW X3 High Resolution Exterior
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Without question, the BMW X3 sits as the chief rival to the Mercedes GLC-Class. To a lot of people, the X3 remains the standard-bearer in this segment, a status it earned for not only emphasizing versatility, efficiency, luxury, and BMW driving dynamics. More importantly, the X3 has sold so well that it has accounted for 1.5 million registrations from its first two generations alone.
The new X3 arrived last year, bringing with it a striking new look, a redesigned interior, and enough engine options — there are three — to give prospective customers a chance to choose power outputs ranging from 184 horsepower to 360 horsepower.

The X3 is the embodiment of what a premium compact SUV should be. That distinction has always given Mercedes pause, in part because it’s true. It’s that same mindset that BMW has used to catapult the X3 into the top spot among models in its class. How long it lasts - that is the big question. For what that’s worth, Mercedes will have a lot to say about it once the facelifted GLC-Class comes out.

Read our full review on the 2018 BMW X3.

Audi Q5

2017 Audi Q5 High Resolution Exterior
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The Audi Q5 is its own solid option, in large part because Audi has done a great job in keeping its SUV up-to-date with new tech offerings to go with a plethora of engine options that are impossible to resist.

Like the X3 and GLC, the Q5 benefits from this engine variety, giving customers the room to choose different output levels, ranging from 230 horsepower to north of 300 horsepower. It may not have the same level of esteem as the X3 and the GLC-Class, but it’s making its own waves in the segment, something that both BMW and Mercedes have come to know and understand.

Read our full review on the 2018 Audi Q5.

Conclusion

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
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The current Mercedes GLC-Class is a very capable vehicle. It offers more in the way of luxury amenities, tech, and safety features than its $40,000 base price tag suggests. But the problem, and it has one, is that the current-generation model has been around for a few years now. It’s not that old to warrant a next-generation model, but a facelift was in the cards. Well, here you have it, folks. The updated Mercedes GLC-Class looks the part of a facelifted model. The exterior changes are subtle but effective. The new MBUX infotainment system offers another level of connectivity previously unavailable to the model. Plus, there’s a new four-cylinder engine that should give prospective customers a new powertrain to play with. In essence, the GLC-Class needed to be refined in a number of different ways. The arrival of the updated GLC-Class at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show is the physical embodiment of all those refinements. Whether it’s enough to succeed in a super competitive market remains to be seen, but, for now, at least, the new Mercedes GLC-Class can enter the battlefield with some new weapons at its disposal.

  • Leave it
    • How much of a price bump will it get?
    • A more aggressive approach in the physical redesign could’ve resulted in a better-looking crossover
    • Will always have to deal with the X3 and the Q5

Further reading

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class.

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Read more Mercedes-Benz news.

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