AMG heat, diesel range to expand 2017 Mercedes GLC compact-crossover line

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe

What changes will make 2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC different?

Addition of a high-mileage diesel model and a high-performance AMG variant. They’ll expand the lineup of a premium compact crossover fully redesigned for model-year 2016. Replacing the 2010-2015 GLK, the GLC launched the second-generation of Mercedes’ entry in this growing class. It’s larger, shapelier, and more refined than the GLK and is on track to include not only the new diesel and AMG editions but a plug-in hybrid. They’ll join the turbocharged four-cylinder GLC300 that kicked off the ’16 redesign; it’ll carryover with little change. If this four-door hatchback-shaped crossover is too conservative for you, Mercedes is also introducing the 2017 GLC Coupe, a four-door fastback offshoot. With that, the GLC family will mirror archrival BMW’s hatchback-shaped X3 and its fastback-coupe X4 offshoot.

Why should I wait for the 2017?

To audition the new models. The GLC300d will have a smooth-running diesel four-cylinder that should match or beat the 30-mpg city/highway combined rating of the less powerful X3 diesel. Tuned by the German automaker’s high-performance arm, the ‘17 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 will battle the hot-rod Porsche Macan Turbo and M40i editions of the X3 and X4. Green-leaning luxury shoppers can wait a few additional months to sample the 2018 GLC350e, a plug-in hybrid with even more torque than the GLC300d and the ability to travel 20 miles on electricity alone. Most GLC buyers, however, will stick with the core GLC300. It’ll be the only GLC available in both rear- and all-wheel drive and has already proven quite popular, nearly doubling Mercedes’ sales in this red-hot market segment.

Check Out Our 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLC Preview for the Latest Info

Should I buy a 2016 model instead?

If your bitten by the crossover bug and want one of the most attractive new entries in the premium-compact class. Reflecting the carmaker’s recently revised naming strategy, the GLC badge links this crossover to the C-Class compact sedan, with which it shares a basic understructure and powertrains. In Mercedes’ crossover hierarchy, it slots between the subcompact GLA and midsize GLE. The ’16 redesign took it from one of the most cramped vehicles in the competitive set to among the roomiest and gave it arguably the most sophisticated interior design. It’s lighter than the GLK, yet quieter, feels more solid, and rides more comfortably. Acceleration with the sole engine available on the ’16 is adequate if not atomic, and fuel economy is competitive. So is pricing.

Will the styling be different?

Reflecting its performance bent, the GLC43 will have an aggressive look with distinct bumpers and grille, special tailpipes, 20-inch dark-accented AMG alloy wheels, and an AMG-themed instrument cluster. Save its 300d badging, the diesel will be a carbon copy of the regular 300. And all will resemble what a higher-riding C-Class hatchback might look like. Flowing, curvaceous lines repudiate the chiseled-box appearance of the GLK, and the longer, lower, wider body gives it a more confident stance. The wheelbase (the distance between the front and rear axles) increases a significant 4.6 inches to become the longest in the class, contributing to pleasing proportions and generous rear legroom. Taking its cue from the pacesetting C- and E-Class interiors, the cabin is a striking blend of high-quality materials and contemporary shapes. Defining the dashboard is a graceful central slope veneered in brown linden wood (black ash and burl walnut are optional). It’s topped by a tablet-like 7-inch hi-def media screen governed by a computer-mouse-type control (with handwriting recognition) and buttons clustered just ahead of the center armrest. Sporty round gauges, a thick-rimmed steering wheel, and five round metallic-finished air vents complete an interior design that’s a selling point in itself. The fashion-first GLC Coupe rides the same wheelbase but has a roofline lower by 1.5 inches, reducing rear headroom and cargo volume.

Any mechanical changes?

Yes, courtesy of the new models. The GLC300d will have a 2.1-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder with an estimated 201 horsepower and a stout 369 pound-feet of torque. It should match or beat the 30 mpg city/highway combined rating of the X3 xDrive328d diesel, which has 181 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. From the German automaker’s high-performance arm comes the ‘17 Mercedes-AMG GLC43. It will have a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 with 362 horses and 384 pound-feet of torque, good enough, Mercedes says, for a muscle-car-like 4.8 seconds 0-60 mph. That’s some 1.6 seconds quicker than the GLC300, which will return with one of the most powerful four-cylinders in the class. It’s 2.0-liter turbo will again generate 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. All GLCs will use a nine-speed automatic transmission. The AMG’s gets specific calibrations and, when the driver uses the steering-wheel paddles, can be set to rev the engine to its rpm redline without automatically upshifting.

Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel drive will again be a $2,000 option for the GLC300 and standard on the other models. It defaults to a 45/55 front/rear torque split – 31/69 for the GLC43 — and automatically shuffles power fore and aft to maximize traction. All models will come with the automaker’s Dynamic Select powertrain, suspension, and steering control, allowing drivers to choose Economy, Comfort, Sport, Sport+, and Individual calibrations. The GLC43 gets a unique sport suspension, plus upgraded brakes. The other models will be available with a segment-first air suspension designed to optimize ride and handling, perform load-leveling, and enable the tail to drop 1.6 inches to ease cargo loading. These powertrains have analogs in the GLC300 4Matic Coupe and Mercedes-AMG GLC43 Coupe.

Will fuel economy improve?

Yes, given the diesel. No, with addition of the AMG powerhouse. A wash, considering the unchanged core model. For the GLC300d, we project EPA ratings of around 26//35/31 mpg city/highway/combined. That would be roughly a 10 percent increase over its diesel predecessor, the GLK250 Blue Tec 4Matic, which was far less aerodynamic and used a seven-speed automatic transmission. High mileage won’t be a GLC43 priority; figure a rating in the neighborhood of 18/24/20 mpg. The returning GLC300 will remain among the most efficient premium compact crossovers that isn’t a diesel or a hybrid. It should again rate 22/28/24 mpg with rear-drive and 21/28/24 with all-wheel drive. As for the 2018 plug-in hybrid, it’ll be called the GLC350e and borrow its powertrain from the C350 Plug-in Hybrid sedan. Combining a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with battery-electric power it should have a net 275 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque. EPA ratings for this powertrain were not released in time for this review, but look for a rating of at least 50 mpg-e (equivalent), the EPA’s calculation of the overall mileage equivalency of a gas vehicle that can also run exclusively on electricity.

Will it have new features?

Other than the AMG-specific performance enhancements and styling tweaks, probably not. All models will again come standard with the aforementioned suspension- and powertrain-adjusting programs, plus power front seats with driver’s memory, power liftgate, and a 40/20/40 split/folding rear seat. The optional Driver Assistance Package includes autonomous braking to avoid a frontal collision, automatic lane-maintaining steering, and a system that flashes the GLC’s rear lights if sensors detect an inattentive driver is about to rear-end it. Among the many other options: an around-view camera, head-up instrument display, heated steering wheel and rear seats, a panoramic moonroof, and a cabin fragrance dispenser. Dress-up options will again include two “designo” interior treatments, the GLC43-flavored AMG Line trim, and a black-themed Night Package.

How will 2017 prices be different?

They’ll almost certainly increase for the returning GLC300 models and stretch to cover the GLC43. Mercedes didn’t charge a premium for the GLK diesel, and may not for its GLC300d successor. Estimated base prices in this review include the automaker’s destination fee; it was $925 for the ‘16 models. Figure the ’17 GLC300 to start around $41,300 with rear-drive and $43,300 with 4Matic. Estimated base prices are $51,000 for the GLC43 and around $43,000 for the GLC300d. Options of course, can push any GLC toward $60,000 with little effort, especially if Mercedes continues to link certain features to the purchase of mandatory extras. For example, to simply supplant the standard “MB-Tex” simulated leather upholstery with the real thing require 2016 GLC buyers to also shell out for the $2,950 Sport, $2,800 Driver Assistance, $2,500 Interior, and $720 Premium packages. Imbedded navigation will likely again be included in the $2,330 Multimedia package that also upgrades the audio system. Expect the panoramic roof to again command $1,480 and the air suspension $1,610. Want an illuminated version of the grille’s Mercedes star? That should again go for $550.

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When will it come out?

Expect release of the 2017 GLC in fall 2016.

Best competitors

Acura RDX, Audi Q5, BMW X3 Cadillac CT5, Infiniti QX50, Jaguar F Pace, Range Rover Evoque, Porsche Macan, Volvo XC60.

What change would make it better?

A rethink of that interlinked mandatory-options strategy.

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]