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Merc’s 2020 GLC: facelifted outside, refreshed inside

S.Muralidhar | Updated on December 19, 2019 Published on December 19, 2019

Just in time for the New Year, it should appeal to both the tech-savvy and the style-conscious

The luxury passenger car segment in India is skewed in favour of sports utility vehicles. Almost every major luxury car brand would tell you that their SUVs are the most popular in their portfolios. Yet, it is a telling statistic that buyer preferences are further skewed in favour of bigger SUVs.

Take the case of Mercedes-Benz. Its model hierarchy doesn’t quite determine the sales volume trend for each SUV. The smaller GLC doesn’t sell more than the bigger GLE; they are almost neck-to-neck. In fact, apparently, sales of the flagship GLS itself isn’t very far from the two smaller SUVs.

It is probably a reflection of the state of maturity of the luxury car market, but simultaneously, an indicator of how different our market is, where status-conscious buyers may choose the larger, more equipped vehicle. The more affordable GLC was probably under-performing its potential. And one of the reasons could have been its lower equipment levels. The facelifted, mid-cycle refresh for the GLC is timely and should help boost the appeal of this compact luxury SUV.

In keeping with its unified nomenclature for its sedans and SUVs, globally Merc now has one on offer for every buyer and budget starting with the GLA and GLB to the GLS. But the GLC is still key, especially in markets like India, where first-time luxury car buyers are major drivers of volumes in that segment.

Design

The GLC’s upright SUV design was welcomed by customers here, who prefer this sort of burly stance to that of a crossover. The overall design of the GLC hasn’t been meddled with as part of the facelift. It has just become more elegant and refined, with much of the changes to the exterior being focussed on visually making the vehicle seem wider and more luxurious. So, the first features to be changed are the headlamps and tail-lamps. The headlamps get a new LED light signature that is a mild departure from the hierarchy lighting format with the C-Class (of which the GLC is the equivalent) getting a single L-shaped LED tube and the S-Class getting three.

A slightly larger bonnet grille and slimmer headlamp units give the front of the facelifted GLC a wider front fascia, which is also more elegant and sporty. Changes to the front fender, including the chromed section that integrates the underbody protector, are the other changes. The side profile remains the same as before, except that the 2020 GLC sports a new set of 19-inch multi-twin-spoke alloy wheels shod with 235/55 R19 profile Pirelli Scorpions.

 

At the rear, the tail-lamps are flatter units with an all-new LED light combination. The rear fender with its chrome diffuser also features integrated exhaust ends. Last week, driving out of Bengaluru, my test mule was the GLC 220d and this variant featured a panoramic sunroof and aluminium running boards on the side. With the spare wheel tucked under the floor of the luggage area, the boot in the facelifted GLC finally offers a decently usable amount of storage space.

Cabin

 

One of the purposes of the GLC facelift was to be able to boost the modernity of the cabin and bring up the kind of features offered there. So, it is not surprising that the interior remains mostly intact in terms of design and layout. The cabin in my test mule was a pleasing mix of beige faux leather and brown open pore walnut wood panels on the centre console and door panels. Polished aluminium accents for the aircon vents, dashboard inserts and control buttons add that touch of premiumness to the cabin.

The large, 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system now integrates the latest generation of Merc’s MBUX system. This is a showcase for Mercedes with much of the development work for fine-tuning voice recognition happening at the Indian R&D centre in Bengaluru. There are still some bugs with accent recognition that need to be fixed, but overall the versatility and intuitiveness of the system have been improved and, with embedded machine learning, it promises to improve over time. Internet and emergency services, along with connected car features, are also now available with the help of an embedded SIM.

Performance

The GLC is now offered with the 1,991cc, turbo petrol engine (GLC 200) and the 1,950cc diesel engine (GLC 220d). Both the 4-cylinder engines are now BS-VI emissions compliant, just like in the E and C-Class, and the diesel even manages to do so without the need for an ammonia tank. The petrol engine’s rated output at 197hp is a shade more than the predecessor’s, and peak torque is 320Nm. My test mule’s diesel engine produced 194 hp and a peak torque of 400 Nm. Both the engines are mated to Merc’s 9G-TRONIC automatic gearbox.

The diesel seems more refined now, and also quieter, both in the cabin and outside. With the gearbox defaulting to an efficiency-focussed performance, with smaller gear ratio increments, this powertrain is not one that’ll take you by surprise. So, stabbing the throttle may not elicit a sharp response, but there are enough horses under the bonnet on standby for a steady gallop. Shifting to sport mode mid-trip and shoving your foot on the throttle pedal gets the powertrain to make multiple downshifts to propel the new GLC forward faster. That is the only situation when the powertrain seems eager to show off its prowess.

Bottomline

The facelift to the cabin in the 2020 GLC is substantial, bringing in quite a few features that were hitherto available only in higher segment models. A more high-tech mix of analogue and digital displays for the instrument cluster, touch pads on the steering wheel and a more high-res display for the infotainment boost the cabin’s tech appeal. Some of the other features that are being offered for the first time include adaptive brake assist, which boosts braking with an audible warning during emergencies and if the system detects slower traffic in your lane compared to your speed.

The ride quality feels over-pliant at times with discernible body roll, but the suspension set-up feels perfect for lightly broken gravel in city driving speeds. So, if you are being chauffeured around while at the rear, it should feel good; though you may not find it to be ideal if you are behind the wheel yourself and expect to take corners with gusto.

The good news is that the facelifted GLC is focussed on making rear seat occupants also happy with small touches like retractable blinds for the rear windows and the MBUX system’s versatility with recognising commands and delivering seat specific changes. Overall, the facelift delivers more value and efficiencies for the same price as the outgoing model.

Published on December 19, 2019
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