Parkers overall rating: 3.7 out of 5 3.7
  • Two diesel and one petrol option
  • AMG derivatives dominate the range
  • 4Matic all-wheel drive and automatic gearbox standard

Currently, the facelifted Mercedes-Benz GLC is only available with diesel power – unless you opt for the petrol-powered AMG models.

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All are paired to a nine-speed automatic gearbox and 4Matic four-wheel drive, though AMG cars get a beefier transmission to cope with all that power.

Petrol engines

A 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol badged as GLC 300 will arrive in the UK later this year. It’s capable of 0-62mph in 6.3 seconds and produces 262hp. It replaces the 211hp GLC 250 model.

The 300 makes use of Mercedes’ mild-hybrid system, named EQ Boost. It uses a combination starter/alternator unit that, while not capable of running the car on electric power alone, aids the engine’s response at low rpm. It also allows the stop/start to cut in sooner, saving fuel.

For now, if you want a petrol GLC, your only options are the flagship AMG models – the GLC 63 and 63 S. The engine is double the size of the 300’s, with 4.0-litres and eight cylinders arranged in a V configuration. It’s twin-turbocharged, too.

The figures are remarkable, with 476hp on offer from the 63 and 510hp from the 63 S. Power is still channelled through a nine-speed gearbox, but it’s a strengthened unit to deal with the extra shove. The S models will hit 62mph from rest in just 3.8 seconds, and while the top speed is limited to 155mph it can be raised to 174mph if the optional Driver’s Package is specced.

The 4.0-litre V8 is everything you’d hope – incredibly potent, with an amazing soundtrack and excellent response from the throttle. We’d definitely rank the AMG GLC models as equals to the Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio or Jaguar F-Pace SVR.

Diesel engines

The meat of the lineup is to be found in a pair of diesel engines, badged 220 d and 300 d. Both are 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged units – sadly, there’s no high-performance six-cylinder diesel to turn the GLC into the ultimate mile-muncher.

The 220 d produces 194hp and is good for a top speed of 134mph. 0-62 arrives in 7.9 seconds, so it’s hardly a slouch. The beefier 300 d should satisfy those who find it too slow, though – it’s capable of 0-62 in 6.5 seconds, courtesy of its 245hp output. Top speed is 144mph.

Neither diesel is particularly refined, with a clattery, metallic soundtrack at low revs. They settle down at a cruise, though, and make the GLC a relaxing way to cover long journeys.

Hybrid and electric models

Sadly, the UK market doesn’t get two of the most interesting GLC powertrains. The plug-in hybrid model, badged GLC 350 e, pairs a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor and battery pack to improve efficiency, especially round town where it can run on pure electric power.

There’s also an up-to-the-minute hydrogen fuel cell model. Named F-Cell, it’s unusual in that it’s also a plug-in – allowing it to run as a pure electric vehicle where hydrogen infrastructure isn’t established.

Discontinued engines

A 3.0-litre V6 diesel GLC – badged 350 d – was offered in the GLC, however Mercedes chose to discontinue this in late 2016. Producing 258hp and 620Nm of torque, it’s good for 0-62mph in a brisk 6.2 seconds and a top speed of 148mph.

The facelifted model also saw the old petrol and diesel engines replaced with new alternatives. That saw the demise of the old 250 and 250 d models, as well as the upgrade to the 220 d. The previous diesels were aging 2.1-litre units, with below-par refinement and economy.

Handling

  • Comfort the priority here
  • Excellent high-speed cruiser
  • AMG models corner with aplomb 

Mercedes has prioritised comfort over sporty handling for most GLC models – not entirely successfully, it has to be said. Though the car settles down to a very comfortable cruise at high speeds – think long blasts on the German autobahn – the low speed ride is slightly unimpressive, bouncing over bumps rather than absorbing them.

Selectable drive modes

All GLCs come with Mercedes’ ‘Dynamic Select’ switch down by the infotainment controller. It allows the driver to cycle through Comfort, Eco, Sport, Sport+ and Individual modes, tailoring throttle, gearbox and steering reactions. On less powerful models, drivers will likely be happier leaving the GLC in ‘Comfort’ by default – with Sport modes adding artificial-feeling weight to the steering without improving its rather remote feel.

Sport also has a tendency to hold the engines, particularly the diesels, a gear higher than is entirely comfortable unless you’re really pressing on. And if you are doing so, keen drivers will prefer to use the steering-wheel mounted paddles.

Dedicated off-road mode

Opting for the Off-Road pack endows the GLC with new driving modes and extra protection when on the rough stuff. Offroad mode is intended for sand and gravel – conditions where wheel slip is useful – and Offroad+ is for mud, snow, and other conditions where the car prevents unnecessary wheelspin.

Though it won’t be the equal of a Land Rover product off the road, the GLC is more than capable enough for its target buyers.

The most capable SUV on track – for now

Those who opt for a GLC 63 or 63 S are unlikely to be disappointed with their choice. The accolade of being the fastest SUV around the iconic Nurburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany is a milestone that other manufacturers will be desperate to beat, but it doesn’t particularly affect buyers (except for bragging rights in the pub, of course).

When it comes to driving the thing, though, it’s impossible not to be impressed. The GLC 63 S we sampled felt for all the world like a sports saloon – it resists body roll impressively well in the corners, and traction in the corners is immense thanks to performance tyres and the 4Matic four-wheel drive system. Head to Sport+ mode, where traction control is limited, and it’s possible to get the tail out around corners.

Hugely powerful and very capable, the AMG variants of the GLC are nonetheless not for the faint hearted. They’re also not as well-suited as standard models to everyday use, either, thanks to poor fuel economy (understandably) and a firm ride.

How much can the GLC tow? 

Towing capacity on the GLC depends largely on which engine you go for. Despite their colossal power and torque, AMG 63 versions are at the bottom end of the scale with an unbraked towing capacity of 750kg, and a braked capacity of 2,170kg.

Opt for one of the diesel versions and while unbraked capacity remains the same, braked increases to 2,500kg.