2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC300 review

12 minutes, 34 seconds Read

From newbie to best-seller in the space of a generation, the previous Mercedes-Benz GLC set the bar high. Tom Fraser finds out whether its successor lives up to the lofty expectations.

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What we love
  • Cabin wows on initial impression
  • Powerful but refined engine and transmission combo
  • Customisability and connectivity of the infotainment
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What we don’t
  • Service pricing is hugely expensive
  • Less choice in the GLC range
  • Expensive compared to its predecessor

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC300

The Mercedes-Benz GLC is a hugely important car for the German manufacturer. In Australia, in a single generation, it went from being a brand-new nameplate to one of the car maker’s best sellers, often outselling the C-Class.

That leaves a lofty reputation for the incoming X254 version to live up to, but the new model brings vast improvements in myriad areas. Specifically, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC is fitted with a new MBUX infotainment system, a new 48-volt mild-hybrid system as standard, and updated styling both inside and out.

But initially, the new model is only available in a single variant in Australia – the GLC300 – which now makes the car a six-figure proposition. In a competitive Australian medium SUV segment with plenty of prestige alternatives, is this Benz still the Mercedes-Benz of its class?

How much does the Mercedes-Benz GLC cost in Australia?

The Mercedes-Benz GLC300 is the sole variant in the line-up – that is, until we see AMG GLC43 and AMG GLC63 versions next year – and it comes more expensive than ever. Its predecessor topped out at around $100,000 drive-away, but this new model (known internally as the X254) starts at $103,370 before on-road costs.

Add-on the Plus Package, which costs $6900 and brings niceties such as a Burmester 3D sound system, augmented-reality satellite navigation, Digital Light matrix LED headlights, and insulated glass, and the drive-away cost of this car equates to just over $121,000.

Note, due to Mercedes’s special new agency sales model there is no haggling with Mercedes-Benz dealers these days either, so there is no getting around that lofty price tag.

The car gets an all-wheel-drive system fed by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine and integrated 48-volt mild hybrid technology. It also utilises a nine-speed automatic transmission.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC subscribes to the brand’s latest design language that started on the S-Class, trickled down to the C-Class sedan, and is now seen on the GLC. That includes style points such as the new wide grille with a huge Mercedes-Benz emblem (which doubles as a radar sensor), new slimmer headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, and a set of side steps. All Australian cars get the AMG Line styling package as standard.

Key details 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC300
Price $103,370 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Obsidian Black metallic
Options Plus Package – $6900
– Burmester 3D surround sound
– Augmented-reality satellite navigation
– Digital Light matrix LED headlights
– Heat and noise-insulating glass
– ‘Guard 360’ stolen vehicle alerts and app connectivity
Price as tested $110,270 plus on-road costs
Drive-away price $121,024 (Melbourne)
Rivals BMW X3 | Lexus NX | Audi Q5

How much space does the Mercedes-Benz GLC have inside?

It’s hard not to be wowed by the GLC300’s cabin on initial entry – it all looks and feels very luxurious. The space is dominated by an 11.9-inch touchscreen infotainment system on the dash, while the driver gets a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster to handle things like speed, rev counting, fuel data, and the like. But more on those systems shortly.

Materials use is done to a very high standard and the cabin ambience is top-notch. There’s a lot of light let in by the sunroof, while ambient lighting plays a hugely entertaining part once daylight is lost.

Everything falls ergonomically to hand – including the power seat switches up on the door card, gear selector stalk on the steering wheel, and touchpad controls for the screens by your hand positions on the steering wheel.

And there’s copious storage about the front seats including a retractable centre console lid, a dual-door centre console bin, wireless charger, and big door card pockets. It gets a set of cupholders in the fold-down centre armrest, but it’s not an intuitive solution and I’d much prefer slots next to the air vents.

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The seats might be synthetic leather – as is becoming the norm in this day and age of sustainability – but they’re supremely comfortable and feel built to last the distance. They even smell pretty decent too.

The high-end experience extends to the second row of seats. There’s a lot of space for your head – I’m 194cm and never had any troubles – while leg room is sizeable sitting behind my own seating position. I love the way the footwell lights up too.

Amenities-wise, the GLC stocks air vents, cupholders, map pockets, and ambient lighting.

Further back, the GLC scores a kick-sensor electric boot release that opens to a 620-litre cavity. The seats fold in a 40/20/40 format thanks to handy remote rear seat releases in the boot, while there’s a cargo cover to hide away your stuff. Under the floor sits a space-saver spare wheel.

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC300
Seats Five
Boot volume 620L seats up
1680L seats folded
Length 4716mm
Width 1890mm
Height 1640mm
Wheelbase 2888mm

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Does the Mercedes-Benz GLC have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

Infotainment is handled by an 11.9-inch touchscreen that sits in portrait orientation. It feels as though it’s angled slightly towards the driver, which enhances at-a-glance visibility when you’re driving along.

The MBUX software features some incredible technology and is refreshingly easy to use, whereas some other systems overwhelm with features. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity are included if you’d prefer to switch over to those systems.

Map screens display beautifully on the big, wide screen, while most settings are easily called up using shortcuts or a quick few presses.

I’m a huge fan of the augmented-reality navigation that shows you a live camera view of the road ahead, then overlays directional arrows to show which direction you’re headed. It’s a seamless system that genuinely helps to explain exactly which way you should go.

The car gets a 15-speaker Burmester sound system that sounds great to my ears, and also has a good amount of adjustability to get the settings just how you like.

In front of the driver is a digital instrument cluster that you can configure in all kinds of ways – my favourite being the full-screen map display.

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Is the Mercedes-Benz GLC a safe car?

The current-generation Mercedes-Benz GLC was safety-tested by ANCAP in June 2023 to a five-star standard.

Breaking it down, the Mercedes scored 92 per cent for adult occupant protection, 92 per cent for child protection, 74 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 84 per cent for safety assistance systems.

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What safety technology does the Mercedes-Benz GLC have?

To earn a five-star safety rating from ANCAP, Mercedes-Benz hasn’t skimped with the active safety inclusions.

It gets autonomous emergency braking (with pedestrian and cyclist detection, and junction assist), lane-keep assistance, lane-centring for the adaptive cruise-control system, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, and a 360-degree camera.

Handily, the adaptive cruise-control system can even change lanes for you when enabled on a freeway – and it does an excellent job.

Mercedes-Benz fits the GLC300 SUV with dual frontal, side chest-protecting, and side head-protecting airbags. It also comes with a centre airbag to protect front seat occupants’ heads from clashing together in an accident, plus a driver’s knee airbag.

How much does the Mercedes-Benz GLC cost to maintain?

Mercedes-Benz was one of the first prestige car brands to move to a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which has now become the unofficial industry standard.

Servicing should be completed at either 25,000km or 12-month intervals, which is also generous.

Service packages are offered upfront at the point of purchase for three-, four-, or five-year plans. They cost $3100, $4200, and $6500 respectively. This is very expensive.

Insuring the GLC300 on a comprehensive insurance policy costs $2551 each year. This is a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.

At a glance 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC300
Warranty Five years, unlimited km
Service intervals 12 months or 25,000km
Servicing costs $6500 (5 years)

Is the Mercedes-Benz GLC fuel-efficient?

Against Mercedes-Benz’s combined fuel consumption claim of 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres, our car returned a sustained 7.9L/100km over the course of a week on freeways and suburban streets. The car maker requires the 62-litre fuel tank to be refuelled with 95-octane fuel.

Fuel Useage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 7.7L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 7.9L/100km
Fuel type 95-octane premium unleaded
Fuel tank size 62L

What is the Mercedes-Benz GLC like to drive?

Interior comfort and cabin quality are only half the battle for prestige SUV buyers. They’re also looking for a suitably premium drive, and the Mercedes-Benz GLC delivers a fantastic driving experience all around.

It’s powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine that outputs 190kW and 400Nm. That’s a punchy set of outputs coming from a 2.0-litre powertrain, and it certainly feels as such in practice.

Press your foot into the throttle and the car suitably changes down gear and serves up the right amount of torque for any given situation. As well, the car uses a nine-speed torque converter automatic transmission that easily manages to serve up the right gear at the right time.

The GLC300 is underpinned by a 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, and even though the time we spent with the car was sunny and dry, we did not have any trouble with traction whatsoever. Mercedes-Benz says that this car will do a scant 6.2-second run from zero to 100km/h – pretty impressive for what is not even a performance SUV.

In addition to the 2.0-litre turbocharged powertrain, the GLC300 has a 48-volt mild-hybrid system that can add up to 17kW and 200Nm for short bursts, likely in the situation where you’re going for an on-road overtake. It’ll give you that little bit of extra power when needed, while on the flip side, the system can switch off petrol engine and run on that electric power when you’re coasting along without significant throttle input, thereby saving fuel.

One thing I’ve come to love in this car is its augmented-reality navigation system. The car will show a camera feed of the road ahead, and then overlay a graphic of directional information, which you can follow and head in your intended direction. It really helps when you’re in unfamiliar territory, and I’ve come to like it when I’m driving around town and going somewhere new.

In terms of steering, the GLC300 has a light steering feel that makes it really easy to manoeuvre in town. In terms of driving modes, the GLC gets an individual driving mode where you can change your own settings, or it also has an off-road mode where the car will prime itself for light-duty off-road use. Other modes you can cycle through include Comfort and Sport.

One area where the GLC300 really nails the brief is just how subdued road noise is inside the cabin. You’re not hearing anything coming from the wheels, nothing coming from the wind. It’s really quiet and refined in the cabin when you’re on the move.

A standout aspect of the driving experience, arguably its greatest asset even, is the way the GLC rides. The suspension is beautifully smooth and compliant over all kinds of bumps, shielding passengers inside from discomfort whether you’re going over speedhumps, road joins or potholed stretches of bitumen.

Key details 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC300
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power 190kW @ 5800rpm
Torque 400Nm @ 2000–3200rpm
Drive type All-wheel drive
Transmission Nine-speed torque converter automatic
Power-to-weight ratio 96.4kW/t
Weight 1970kg
Spare tyre type Space-saver
Tow rating 2400kg braked
750kg unbraked
Turning circle 11.8m

Should I buy a Mercedes-Benz GLC?

It might be at a higher price point than we’ve come to expect from a Mercedes-Benz GLC, but there is no doubt the new-generation GLC offers a vastly improved experience compared to its predecessor.

Even before setting foot inside the car, it’s clear you want for nothing in terms of included items, but the impression is only improved once you enter the cabin. The brilliant materials on offer, the amount of space for passengers and their gear, and the sturdy build quality – the premium brief is hit straight on the head.

Against a slew of ageing rivals such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60, the Mercedes-Benz GLC breathes new life into the segment and genuinely feels like a next-generation car.

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How do I buy a Mercedes-Benz GLC – next steps?

There’s only one model grade of Mercedes-Benz GLC available, the GLC300. For buyers looking to save money, it would be smart to forgo the Plus Package at $6900, but those after a great sound system must option the kit.

We asked Mercedes-Benz about wait times for the model and found out the car maker has a selection of examples in stock awaiting delivery. Buyers should check in with their local Mercedes-Benz outlet to secure a car and discover the finer details about wait times. You can also find Mercedes-Benzes for sale at Drive.com.au/cars-for-sale.

If you want to stay updated with everything that’s happened to this car since our review, you’ll find all the latest news here.

Ratings Breakdown

2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class GLC300 Wagon

8.2/ 10

Performance

Safety Technology

Ride Quality

Infotainment & Connectivity

Handling & Dynamics

Energy Efficiency

Driver Technology

Value for Money

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Fit for Purpose

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Tom started out in the automotive industry by exploiting his photographic skills but quickly learned that journalists got the better end of the deal. He began with CarAdvice in 2014, left in 2017 to join Bauer Media titles including Wheels and WhichCar and subsequently returned to CarAdvice in early 2021 during its transition to Drive.

As part of the Drive content team, Tom covers automotive news, car reviews, advice, and holds a special interest in long-form feature stories.

He understands that every car buyer is unique and has varying requirements when it comes to buying a new car, but equally, there’s also a loyal subset of Drive audience that loves entertaining enthusiast content.

Tom holds a deep respect for all things automotive no matter the model, priding himself on noticing the subtle things that make each car tick. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t learn something new in an everchanging industry, which is then imparted to the Drive reader base.

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