Why would I buy it?
- Refreshed SUV styling
- Lavish interior with new tech
- Refined and silent petrol engine
Why would I avoid it?
- Not very frugal
- Prices up from the previous model
It is not difficult to fathom why the Mercedes-Benz GLC is one amongst the most popular SUVs in the luxury mid-size SUV segment. And now, it has also bagged the highest-selling SUV badge in 2020 for the carmaker. And if you think the C-Class doesn't stand out in the automotive world, but still want all the goodies it offers, more space, and all the other benefits of an SUV, the GLC will satiate your needs. Right from its inception to its local production, it has been a success story and the 2021 model carries this forth with enrichment of features and new technology.
Engine and Performance
This GLC 200 that you see here is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that pumps out 194bhp and 320Nm of torque. No, it doesn't get the 4MATIC system like its diesel version, and power is sent to the rear wheels through a nine-speed automatic gearbox. But, it’s a well optimised combo with a peppy performance. The engine is silent, very refined and provides spontaneous responses to the throttle inputs. The NVH levels are indeed quite low and that anyone would expect from a luxury car like this.
There are five driving modes - eco, comfort, sport, sport plus and individual. While the other modes are self-explanatory, the additional individual mode is what helps you customise even your steering input and also disengage ESP. The eco mode aims at attaining maximum fuel efficiency with early shifts, whereas the sport and sport plus allow you to rev till its redline at around 6,200rpm. Then, the difference is quite astonishing between comfort, sport and sport plus, if you choose to go fast that is. And the claimed 0-100kmph sprint time of 7.8seconds is easily attainable as we could also match it in our V-Box tests.
All the same, but this feels very seamless in comfort mode. The gear ratios are nicely stacked together and this nine-speed automatic gearbox gives your left leg complete rest. A blessing in start-stop traffic! Any which way, you can easily keep cruising all day round at low revs thanks to the availability of abundant torque. That's also when you'll be able to extract more fuel efficiency. It returned 10.3kmpl within the city, which is okay for a vehicle weighing 1,840kg. Otherwise, out on the highway, it should return close to 13kmpl, which obviously will plunge with more occupants and load. Yet, auto on-off engine cut-off system works seamlessly and will help you attain more fuel efficiency.
Ride and Handling
With a double wishbone in the front and multi-link suspension at the back, the ride quality remains compliant enough to soak up bumps and patchy road surfaces. That said, if you happen to skip a small hump and even on road joints on flyovers, you can slightly hear the suspension noise inside the cabin. Otherwise it remains silent for the most part and never adds to the discomfort of occupants. Even on bad roads, it dampens down the thunks and thuds well and never did we hear the suspension crash or anything. This is a very good thing as it’s quite important for this class of vehicle to isolate the passengers from all of this, as comfort remains to be the top priority.
And, whichever driving mode you are in, this big SUV never feels intimidating to drive as it has nice light controls. Due to its size, it's surely not car-like to drive as guiding this wide body in narrow streets and tight spaces still gets a bit nerve-cracking. But once you get a hang of it, even parking it becomes easy thanks to its 360 view camera. And then, there's parking assist as well with the option of adjusting the sensitivity according to your need. Its steering is light and adds weight to it as you dial up the speed. Interestingly, the turn-ins feel sharp with this responsive steering and it’s fun to drive even in twisties. Yes, the body roll gets evident when pushing through a corner hard, but still takes it quite enthusiastically. Its sure-footedness is seen even on the highway with good straight-line stability as it remains planted at high speeds and is quite a mile-muncher.
Interior Space and Quality
Like the C-Class, the GLC also gets a classy interior, but with a black theme. And the walnut wood trim adds much more premium feel to it. There's black leather upholstery with contrasting white stitching with seats that are firmly padded and are quite supportive with adjustable lumbar and thigh support. Despite being a big SUV, most things are within reach with a nice placement. I've always liked Mercedes cars for having the gear lever behind the steering wheel. So you can shift gears without taking your hands off the steering wheel and easily focus on the road ahead.
The quality of materials used is top-notch with fit and finish too good to be even nit-picked at. Then, there is good space for storage with deep compartments as seen in the glove box and even in the centre console. Even the retractable rear arm rest gets storage space with two cup-holders.
It's a roomy cabin with the seats and steering wheel getting lots of adjustments. It makes for plenty of space for tall passengers and even finding an ideal driving position. Space in the GLC’s second row is quite generous for two and quite relaxing as well. There’s enough space to tuck feet under the front seats meaning the reclined rear seat base provides thigh support as well. But, with the addition of a middle passenger, three adult occupants will feel squashed and the hump in the central tunnel floor will make the occupants fight over foot space.
Thankfully, the GLC's exterior shape is neither blockier nor swoopy or swept back following the lead of the coupe styled vehicles, and in fact, elegant and rakish enough to not cost cargo space. Its 580 litres of boot-space can be expanded with the rear seats folding flat at the touch of a button.
Features and Safety
The manufacturer has upped the number of features and multimedia assistance systems in this 2021 GLC. The most noteworthy addition is the digital instrument cluster which still has that classic Mercedes-Benz analog look along with different display modes. There's a chunk load of information to display and in bright colours. Then, there's a 10.25-inch centrally mounted tablet-like screen boasting of the brand's latest MBUX system with multiple connectivity options. And, this in turn can be accessed through the screen, steering wheel buttons, voice commands or even the haptic buttons in the centre console.
This highly praised MBUX system is indeed smarter with many functionalities, intuitive to use and gets ‘Hey Mercedes’ assistant as well. It also includes the Mercedes Me Connect which not just accounts for geo fencing, live traffic, vehicle finder etc. but now also integrates Google Home and Alexa.
The carmaker has also, for the first time, introduced front massaging seats with two different types of massages. After all comfort is what one is looking at and here it's got one level higher. What's more, there's remote engine start and the windows and sunroof open/close to add to the convenience. That said, the seats lack memory function, there's no hands-free tail gate opening and no 12V power socket in the front. Also, all USB ports are now C type, so basically if one has a conventional USB port he'll probably have to plug in an adapter.
Otherwise, other features are carried over like dual-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a nine-speaker music system, ambient lighting, window blinds, and even a panoramic sunroof. Then, there's cruise control, seven-airbags, TPMS, ISOFIX seats, in-car on-call assistance, traction control, hill hold function, and all safety features and equipment from its previous model.
The 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLC with new features and slightly tweaked exterior then, has only built onto its traits; for what was and is a big SUV with a spacious, luxurious and comfortable interior. It's available in both diesel and petrol engine options like this 200 Progressive Trim. Still, the petrol version is not as powerful as its rivals like the BMW X3 or the Jaguar F-Pace, and doesn't provide an AWD system like them. But then, even if its price has soared this year, an ex-showroom price of Rs 57.36 lakh still makes it one of the most affordable ones in its segment.
Pictures by Kapil Angane