“Modern lightweight construction, the best aerodynamics (Cd 0.31) in its class, and innovative drive systems make the Mercedes-Benz GLC a real champion in the field of energy efficiency.” That is how Dr. Uwe Ernstberger, Head of Mercedes’ S-, E-, and C-class Product Group, sums up the newest arrival to the company’s panoply of models.
He also claims that Mercedes has “quite literally” taken off-road capability to a new level in its market segment. This includes not only a ground clearance of 123 mm (4.8 in) and maximum approach and departure angles of 31° and 25°, respectively, but a dedicated Off-Road Engineering (ORE) package can raise the (air) suspension 50 mm (2.0 in).
The GLC (presaged by the GLC Coupe concept seen earlier this year), is the successor to the GLK and is based on the current C-Class Modular Rear Architecture (MRA) platform but with a 118 mm (4.6 in) longer wheelbase. The four-cylinder (at present) powertrain range includes a choice of regular gasoline and diesel engine, plus a gasoline plug-in hybrid with an official CO2 figure of 60 g/km.
The GLC has more rounded styling than its angular GLK predecessor, described by Daimler’s Head of Design Gorden Wagener, as “a “paradigm shift” of focus: “All forthcoming SUVs will follow our design philosophy of ‘Sensual Purity’ and take on a markedly sportier character.”
But that is not at the expense of interior room; the GLC has “substantially” more space for occupants and luggage, he said. Load capacity behind the rear bench rises from 80-110 L (2.8-3.9 ft³), to total 580 L (20.5 ft³). The air suspension allows the load level to be lowered 40 mm (1.6 in).
As with most OEMs, efficiency is the watchword for the design, and across the new range fuel consumption has been reduced by up to 19%. All models meet EU6 emissions standards.
Detailed attention to aerodynamics includes sealing of radiator and headlamp surrounds, an extended roof spoiler, underbody paneling, and the use of a radiator shutter.
Weight has also been trimmed, with the GLC lighter than the GLK by some 80 kg (176 lb); the bodyshell is 50 kg (110 lb) lighter.
As usual with Mercedes, the GLC has a material mix rather than an all-aluminum solution. The car’s ZF nine-speed auto transmission (the hybrid gets seven speeds) has a magnesium housing for a 12 kg (26 lb) mass saving.
The available Air Body Control (ABC) multi-chamber air suspension features spring elements using glass fiber reinforced plastic (GFRP). The system is allied to a Dynamic Select driving dynamics program. Sport mode gives a 15 mm (0.6 in) suspension height drop. The GLC uses Mercedes’ 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive with a basic torque split of 45/55% for front/rear axles.
The GLC gets Agility Control suspension with steel springs and a variable damping system as standard, but air is an option with continuously adjustable damping.
An interesting chassis facet is the Off-Road Engineering package with ABC, designed to optimize the vehicle's ground contact. The package covers a selection of programs including Incline, to help support climbing capability on steep ramps or long slow uphill inclines; Rocking Assist, which sees the suspension raised 50 mm and an increase in wheel-slip control thresholds; and Trailer, developed for optimum off-road towing including step-off when driving on wet grass. Off-Road Engineering also includes a Gemtex under-ride guard and downhill speed regulation via an automatically maintained speed pre-set on the cruise control.
As a driver aid, Dynamic Select programs appear on a central display. In off-road mode, this includes animations in real time to illustrate incline, steering angle, and heading.