From the desk of Agent 001:

The Spies were in Atlanta last week testing the all-new 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC300.

If you’ve been reading closely the last 24 months you’ve noticed we were the first to call a momentum shift towards the Silver Star.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC300

In a big way.

And you’ve come to learn that we are the ONLY mainstream auto site correctly predicting future hits and performance.

For that matter, the ONLY mainstream auto site even going out on a limb MAKING predictions.

The others, shoot straight down center completely avoiding the risk of being wrong. 

OR, upsetting the manufacturers and jeopardizing their gravy train of ad dollars, trips and car access.

But we’ll never be like that. 

We like Bourdain-style reporting (tell it like it is no matter WHAT) and gambling our expertise in order to put YOU all AHEAD of the curve not at the tail end.

When Audi made their move way back at the launch of the R8 we told you to watch out because they were going to go places where no one went before and were going straight to the top  of customer mind share.

A place they had NEVER been.

And they did.

For a while our friends at Mercedes lost a little focus in that time period but out of nowhere, they started rolling out the hits again. And not just one or two.

And not with minor improvements.

Like Ford, they were swinging for the fences on virtually EVERY new model, refresh and re-do.

And that’s the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, we LIKE it!

No stale 2% improvement and pile on the marketing dollars and unleash the spin doctors like the GM’s. 

An all out assault, across the board!

Because that’s how winning is done!

S-Class, S-Class Coupe, S-Class Convertible, C-Class, C-Coupe and the most technologically advanced E-Class right around the corner.

All incredible cars that are besting and scaring the competition.

Which brings us to today's review.

The replacement for the outgoing GLK.

The GLC300.

Now the GLK was ok and sold pretty well but no one would pick it as the segment leader or near the top.

But that was the old Mercedes and this is now.

Not only is the new car an INCREDIBLE leap over the outgoing product but in our opinion rushes it all the way to the top with only the Porsche Macan ahead of it.

Yeah, it’s that good. Better than Audi, Lexus, BMW and the remaining competition.

First, basic details on the GLC300.

Mercedes-Benz's press release follows:

The second generation of the mid-size Mercedes-Benz SUV has been renamed from GLK to GLC, and this versatile SUV represents a big step forward on several fronts. On a technical level, the GLC clearly makes its mark with the excellent standard of safety that is a brand hallmark, featuring state-of-the-art assistance systems. The AIR BODY CONTROL multi- chamber air suspension is unparalleled in this segment, offering the combination of DYNAMIC SELECT engine and suspension modes together with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive. This increases both ride comfort and agility, regardless of driving surface. Visually, the body follows the clear and sensual design idiom which was demonstrated so successfully by the GLC Coupe´ showcar concept in Spring 2015, and which also serves as the standard for future SUV families. 

The paradigm shift in the area of design affects not only the outside appearance. The model change also signals a marked upgrade for the interior. A modern setting prevails, which is reminicent of the standard set by its bigger brother, the GLE. The new design idiom combines sensual purity with dynamic sportiness and embodies a new interpretation of modern luxury. The GLC's interior conjures up the feel-good atmosphere which is a brand hallmark courtesy of high-class materials featuring a hand-crafted character, such as nappa leather or open-pore wood trim, meticulously finished details and an appealing overall touch and feel. Last but not least, substantially more space is available for occupants and luggage. The optional large-area panoramic glass roof further enhances the light and airy feel inside.

A key focus of the totally new interior design is the dashboard and the center console with its flowing lines and large, one-piece panel performing an elegant sweep from the center air vents to the armrest. These clear-cut lines create a feeling of open space and establish a purist, modern vibe. The newly developed innovative touchpad in the handrest over the rotary pushbutton nestles ergonomically in the center console. As on a smartphone, this provides for very simple and intuitive operation of all the head-unit functions using finger gestures. The touchpad also permits letters, numbers and special characters to be entered in handwriting. A centrally positioned media display is partially integrated above the center console. Five round air outlets with a metallic "cool touch" effect lend the dashboard a sporty air and create an interesting contrast to the warm look of the other materials.

More space, more fun, more comfort

In comparison to its predecessor, the new model is substantially more spacious for front and rear occupants alike. The increase in the GLC's length in comparison to the previous model has been translated effectively into useful interior space. Almost all key comfort factors have been improved – substantially in some instances – above all the space on the rear bench.

Entry and exit space for the rear passengers has also been substantially enhanced; with 1.3 inches (34 millimeters) more foot space now available for the purposes of entering and exiting the vehicle.

Through the effective use of space and intelligent packaging, the engineers have also managed to increase the size of the luggage compartment with level a load area. The rear bench features a 40/20/40 split and offers a cargo position which increases the load capacity by locking the backrests at a steeper angle. In terms of non-SAE interior volume specs based on European figures, the load capacity behind the rear bench increases by 2.8 to 3.9 cubic feet (80 to 110 liters), to a total of up to 20.5 cubic feet (580 liters). In all, the GLC is able to transport up to 56.5 cubic feet (1600 liters) of cargo – 1.8 cubic feet (50 litres) more than was previously possible. The maximum luggage compartment length is 52.0 inches (1320 millimeters), while the maximum width increases by 5.9 inches to 43.3 inclues (1100 millimeters).

Added convenience for loading and unloading is provided by lowering of the load compartment sill by 1.6 inches (40 mm) with the AIR BODY CONTROL option and by HANDS-FREE ACCESS, which enables the tailgate to be opened automatically by performing a swiping movement with the foot under the bumper.


Energy efficiency: crucial parameters

Mercedes-Benz has applied an extensive package of measures to enhance the GLC's energy efficiency and performance substantially. New drive systems, outstanding aerodynamics and intelligent lightweight design are the primary factors behind the vehicle's fuel efficiency. In the United States, the GLC 300 and GLC 300 4MATIC will be powered by a 2.0 liter inline 4 cylinder engine. The preliminary data shows that this fuel efficient powerplant will produce 241 hp @ 5,500 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque @ 1,300-4,000 rpm.

The design transition has also bestowed superlative aerodynamics on the new GLC. With a global Cd value of 0.31 (GLK 0.34) and total aerodynamic drag of 0.794 (GLK 0.87), it sets a clear benchmark in this segment (NOTE: this is a global aerodynamics figure, which is TBD for the U.S. market and related larger standard wheels, which will differ). Apart from the vehicle's substantially more aerodynamically efficient basic shape, this exceptional aerodynamic performance also results from a host of solutions relating to points of detail, such as sealing of the radiator and headlamp surrounds, a radiator shutter, the extended roof spoiler or the optimized underbody panelling.

Despite markedly larger outer dimensions, a longer wheelbase and a more extensive scope of equipment, the vehicle's weight has been cut by 176 pounds (80 kilograms). The main contributory factor to this reduction is the totally new body, which is 110 pounds (50 kilograms) lighter than the smaller GLK counterpart, thanks to an intelligent mix of materials comprising aluminium and high- to ultra- high-strength steels. Aluminium components additionally reduce the weight of the chassis, which also benefits ride comfort due to the attendant reduction in unsprung masses. The optional AIR BODY CONTROL full-support multi-chamber air suspension features spring elements in lightweight yet robust glass-fiber-reinforced plastic, which reduce the system weight in comparison to conventional air suspensions. The use of the new compact transfer case as an add-on module and the 9G-TRONIC with its magnesium transmission housing both result in a reduction in weight of 26 pounds (12 kg) in comparison to the previous model.


AIR BODY CONTROL: innovative air travel

The new GLC features the AGILITY CONTROL suspension with steel springs and a variable damping system as standard. The GLC is the sole model in this market segment to offer the option of fitting the chassis with a full-support multi-chamber air suspension system and electronically controlled, continuously adjustable damping. The AIR BODY CONTROL suspension combines excellent driving stability and sporty agility with optimum comfort and outstanding off-road capabilities. Specific characteristics are pre-selected according to the settings of the DYNAMIC SELECT driving dynamics program. In Sport+ mode, the GLC's occupants feel as if they are sitting in a sports car with a high level of lateral dynamics due to the tauter connection of the chassis, which is additionally lowered by 0.6 inches (15 millimeters). Comfort mode offers the very opposite ride experience, focusing on particularly comfortable running with soft connection of the chassis. To ensure maximum driving safety in this mode, the spring and damper forces adapt within 60 milliseconds in response to sudden evasive manouvers. Further benefits of the system include reduced rolling during cornering, automatic level control and lowering of the load compartment sill for convenient loading and unloading.

Powertrain: agility, dynamism and comfort a` la carte

The new GLC offers the DYNAMIC SELECT handling control system with five driving programs as standard. The ECO, COMFORT, SPORT, SPORT+ and INDIVIDUAL settings will be familiar to drivers from other Mercedes-Benz models.

4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive models feature a basic drive torque split of 45 to 55 percent between front and rear axle. In cooperation with the ESP®, ASR and 4ETS dynamic handling control systems, this provides for superior and clearly predictable handling. The multiple-disc clutch in the center differential assists the system in the event of really low friction coefficients between tire and road, for example on snow or ice. A basic locking force of 37 lb-ft (50 newton-meters) between the front and rear axles brings about a significant increase in traction with the same high level of driving stability.

The nine-stage 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission also comes as standard equipment on the GLC300 and GLC300 4MATIC for the USA. Depending on the mode selected for the DYNAMIC SELECT dynamic handling control, the automatic transmission with a torque converter boasts great agility and responsiveness or poised composure. The potential of the transmission is maximized to offer an impressively high shift speed and perfect transitions for energetic sprinting as well as gentle, barely perceptible gear changes for enjoyable cruising.

Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive: guardian angels on board

Almost all of the driver assistance systems which are familiar from the C-, E- and S-Class are available for the new GLC. As part of the Intelligent Drive concept, these systems combine data from various sensor technologies to substantially enhance comfort and safety. COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS, Crosswind Assist, Active Highbeam Assist and ATTENTION ASSIST are on board as standard. The Driver Assistance Package (same for all S/E/C/CLS/GLE models in the USA) provides an even more comprehensive scope of active safety features, comprising DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist, PRE-SAFE® Brake with pedestrian detection, BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and PRE-SAFE® PLUS. The latter feature also offers added protection in the event of a rear-end collision. By means of a radar sensor in the rear bumper PRE- SAFE® PLUS identifies impending rear-end collisions, alerts the traffic behind by operating the hazard warning lights at a particularly eye-catching flashing frequency, activates preventive occupant protection measures and brakes the vehicle to a standstill after a rear-end collision to reduce the levels of stress acting on the occupants. On vehicles equipped with the LED Intelligent Light System, Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus allows main beam to be left on permanently by masking out the area of the main-beam light cone which is occupied by other vehicles. Simpler handling and a clearer view when manoevering in tight spaces or driving in dense urban traffic are ensured by the 360° camera, which is able to show the vehicle and its surroundings from different perspectives, and by Active Parking Assist, which manoevers the vehicle fully automatically into detected parallel and end-on parking spaces.

The improved ergonomics and simpler controls in the GLC also help to enhance safety. All important vehicle functions and settings can be carried out intuitively using the central rotary pushbutton or the touchpad. The desired settings or information are visualized by the large, partially integrated color media display in the middle of the dashboard. Direct selection buttons next to the light switch module to the left of the steering wheel additionally enable direct activation of the most important assistance systems.

Also new is the Head-up Display, (HUD). The HUD displays important information directly in the driver's field of vision on the front windscreen, thus providing for clear legibility and less distraction from the road ahead. The system provides information on speed, posted speed limits, navigation instructions and messages from the DISTRONIC system. 

Driving impressions:

What you’ll notice first off is its a much better looking vehicle. To our eye it resembles the S-Class/C-Class from the front, Audi A5 on the profile and Macan from the rear.

It’s very good looking in person and on-road. Always the key to validating a design is how it looks off the auto show floor and on the street.

And the interior is miles ahead of the last version in every single way. You just don’t see this on something at this price point. Lots of the good inspiration from the S-class all around you in the cabin.

Speaking of price point, the GLC300 is EXACTLY the same price as the C-class sedan. A no brainer choice for us even though the sedan is a stellar product as well.

And the level of tech available rivals S-class and it’s shining star is the absolute best — e.g., DISTRONIC active cruise control combined with lane keep assist.

Best one we’ve ever tested. 

Lastly, for every day combination of driving there is NO better small SUV suspension and steering combo.

Perfect balance of sport and comfort. An absolute road trip joy. And you’ll LOVE the seats. The best of breed for comfort and next to impossible to beat on a long drive.

The Good:

- Great looks and value for the dollar inside and out.
- Best of breed comfort/sport suspension combo
- Same price as C-class sedan
- Tech like new gen DISTRONIC leads the pack

The Bad:

- Will be tough to get a deal for the foreseeable future as we predict these will be flying off the lots.
- The palette of color choices isn’t the most exciting we’ve seen. Hopefully Designo special order and future special editions will add more excitement.

The Ugly:

- Still not sold on the new naming nomenclature


Mercedes has another huge hit coming out of the gate with the GLC300. And you’d better believe it! They are on a roll and it doesn't look it will stop anytime soon.

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC300

REVIEW: 2016 Mercedes GLC300. Does It Go Straight To The Head Of The Class?

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