What are you driving?
The Mercedes-Benz GLC is arguably the model in the brand's wide SUV range that is, right now, best-suited to Ireland. It goes up against talented rivals such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, with less obvious competition coming in the form of the Lexus NX and Volvo XC60. The updated version of the Mercedes GLC was launched in June 2019 and it received some subtle exterior styling updates. Namely new headlights (that feature a different LED daytime running light signature), a revised front grille design and a new-look front bumper. There is less of a change to the look of the rear, other than a slim chrome trim insert in the bumper that includes two faux exhaust tips, and a new light design that feature more intricate detail.
This AMG Line model gets some unique exterior styling upgrades that give it what we think is the best look of the different GLC models. However, with that also comes some firmer suspension and 'Sports Direct-Steer'. The good news is that, while the springs are firmer, the GLC remains reasonably comfortable. A multi-link setup at the rear adds to the composed ride quality, as do the decently side-walled tyres fitted to the 19-inch alloy wheels, while on the move, the mid-size Mercedes delivers a mostly quiet driving experience.
Name its best bits
The GLC was already one of the more handsome looking SUVs, and the minor visual updates do nothing to diminish the car's outright appeal. One of the few chinks in the GLC's armour was its less-than-perfect diesel engine. The 2.1-litre four-cylinder never quite had the refinement expected of a car like the GLC, proving noisy not only when cold but also when on the move and under load. Now the GLC gets a new 2.0-litre diesel engine. It's still a turbocharged four-cylinder, and while it's still audibly a diesel, it is a good deal better than before. Power output in this GLC 220 d model rises from 170hp to 194hp, with torque output remaining the same at 400Nm.
The nine-speed automatic transmission remains one of the best in the business and complements this newer engine well. It does its best work when left in fully auto mode, carrying out gear changes often imperceptibly when moving at moderate speeds. During our time with the car, it averaged fuel consumption of 6.3 litres/100km, which is not that far from the official figure of 5.2 litres/100km, which is NEDC-based, therefore not quite real-world accurate. So, it's fair to say that the Mercedes isn't likely to drain your fuel budget all that quickly, which is a good thing.
Space is another thing that is in plenty of abundance within the GLC. The smart layout of the dashboard and centre console adds to this, and there are decent amounts of headroom in both the front and rear seats. Add to that a 580-litre boot, which is larger than any of its main rivals' by a good 30 litres, and you have an SUV that's just as practical as it is attractive.
Anything that bugs you?
While this GLC does get the improved infotainment system, it is stuck with the older cabin architecture that sees the central screen perched atop the middle of the dashboard, looking more like an aftermarket add-on than part of the original design. That is, in the grand scheme of things, quite a minor gripe and, to be fair, there aren't a lot of areas in which to criticise the GLC. Mercedes knows the importance of this model and isn't keen on messing with what is an already successful formula.
And why have you given it this rating?
Mercedes offers the GLC is a dizzying array of versions and specifications, so whether you want a basic (but still premium) five-seat SUV or a high-performance Mercedes-AMG version with 510hp, there's something in the range for you. But within that line-up, it is this GLC 220 d that is the one that makes most sense for the average buyer. The petrol 300 model is more refined at the slower stuff, but the average economy of the 220 diesel, especially over longer runs, is something that many motorists will appreciate.
What do the rest of the team think?
I was a big fan of the GLC when it launched and though the BMW X3 might steer me away from it, the Mercedes is undoubtedly one of the best mid-sized SUVs on the market. It looks handsome inside and out, is spacious, good to drive, comfortable and even quite economical.
Shane O'Donoghue - Editor