Mercedes-Benz is offering up a first look at its second-generation GLC sport-utility vehicle. To add a bit of confusion, the 2016 model is a renamed version of what had been known as the Mercedes GLK.
The automaker recently decided to try to make sense out of an expanding line-up of crossovers and conventional sport-utility vehicles by realigning its naming system from small to large.
The new GLC picks up on the basic design cues first seen in the form of the GLC Coupe showcar that made its debut at the Shanghai Motor Show last April. That concept vehicle was intended to give a “foretaste” of the new design language Mercedes will use for a variety of upcoming utility vehicles, hinted styling chief Gordon Wagener.
“Our new GLC represents a further, systematic step in the implementation of our successful SUV philosophy,” said Mercedes research chief Thomas Weber, in a statement marking the official unveiling of the new ute today.
The goal was to enhance the overall driving comfort of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC, balancing on-road sportiness with a reasonable level of off-road capabilities, Weber explained.
Among other things, the 2016 GLC will be available with the Mercedes Air Body Control air suspension system, Dynamic Select powertrain, and 4Matic all-wheel-drive.
Visually, the new model undergoes some significant changes from the old Mercedes GLK. It features a new, shorter overhang, with a more upright and three-dimensional grille highlighted by a larger Mercedes tri-star logo. The more distinctive headlight design can be fitted with optional LED lamps, meanwhile.
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The production GLC picks up on the more coupe-like shape of the GLC concept shown in Shanghai. The wheelbase of the 2016 ute has been stretched by 4.6 inches, though the short overhangs limit the overall growth. But that translates into a more roomier interior, according to Mercedes.
The U.S. version of the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC will get different bumpers than those used in Europe, China and many other parts of the world. They have been designed to permit a 28-degree angle of approach and departure to improve off-road capabilities.
Buyers can opt for wheels of up to 20 inches – slightly smaller than the 21-inch rubber on the GLC Coupe concept – as well as optional running boards.
Inside, Mercedes designers have gone for what the maker describes as a “feel-good atmosphere,” with plenty of upscale details, including open-pore wood trim and leather. The new design offers “substantially more space,” not only for passengers but also for cargo.
The focal point of the new interior is the single-piece instrument panel and flowing center console. The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC picks up on the dual-control design first sign on last year’s redesigned C-Class, with both a touchpad and, underneath, the more familiar rotary controller. The touchpad allows a user to enter numbers or characters by sketching them out. Voice control also is integrated into the infotainment system.
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As with other recent offerings, Mercedes claims to have both enhanced performance and fuel efficiency with the new GLC, in part through improved aerodynamics. Mercedes also trimmed the overall mass of the new ute by 176 pounds, compared to the outgoing GLK, by using a mix of aluminum and high-strength steel.
For U.S. buyers, the 2016 GLC 300 and GLC 300 4Matic models will be powered by a new 2.0-liter turbo-charged inline-four engine making 241-horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The engine is paired with a nine-speed automatic gearbox. The 4Matic version nominally uses a torque split sending 55% of the engine’s power to the rear wheels.
The GLC will come standard with Mercedes’ Agility Control suspension, featuring steel springs and variable dampers. The upgraded Air Body Control suspension allows a driver to switch between a variety of modes, including Sport+, which lowers the vehicle a half-inch.
Mercedes has been moving some of its latest safety technology down the product line-up, and the 2016 GLC is no exception. It will offer such protective systems as Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Crosswind Assist, Active Highbeam Assist and more as standard equipment. The Driver Assistance Package adds such technology as Pre-Safe Brake with Pedestrian Detection, and Distronic Plus with Steering Assist.
The 2016 GLC also will be available with a new Head-Up Display, or HUD, system.
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Pricing for the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC is expected to be released later this year, closer to the vehicle’s arrival in U.S. showrooms in November.