Well, this is more like it.
When the Mercedes-Benz GLK was introduced in 2010, it was a bit underwhelming. Inheriting the tall, upright appearance of the popular G-Class, its similarly boxy build endowed the cabin with the illusion of space, which was noticeable by its absence. A compact luxury crossover should be a jewel box, a splendid, exquisite bit of lavishness in a petite package. Unfortunately, the GLK had the aura of the box the jewel box arrived in.
How can you project a properly fashionable air when arriving in a vehicle with an unfashionably angular shape?
Where the GLK seemed austere and upright, the GLC?s design is sumptuously soft, with a relaxed, refined elegance that rests upon a strong underlying visual structure. Its large wheels and aggressive stance make it appealing to women, as well as those of us with Y chromosomes. Its styling possesses the essence essential for a premium crossover ? and it?s even sized like one. And this time, it?s no illusion.
The new GLC is more than 41/2 inches longer than its predecessor in both wheelbase and overall length. Thankfully, the extra space has gone to the second row, where legroom is now 2.2 inches greater than before. The rear seat is also wider, so you?re not rubbing shoulders with fellow passengers. Even the cargo hold is larger, growing to 19.4 cubic feet.
But it?s more than looks or room that got my attention.
Like its sedan sibling, the GLC can be had with rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, powered by the C-Class?s 241-horsepower, turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, which is mated to a nine-speed transmission.
If you?ve sampled the new C-Class, the GLC will feel familiar, although ride height will obviously differ. There?s more than enough power for the daily suburban sprint to home, school, the office or Costco. While throttle response won?t induce whiplash, there?s more than enough power to deal with the cut-and-thrust required by city streets, pokey parkways and clogged arteries, as reaching 60 m.p.h. takes 6.3 seconds. Like the best household help, the transmission does its job invisibly, silently snapping off shifts without drama. Steering is ideally weighted, and the suspension ably balances the ride-versus-handling equation without undue impact harshness. This vehicle is clearly of its station, despite its off-road abilities and a 28-degree approach-departure angle.
Given that most GLC drivers? off-road experience occurs only when they run over a bush at the end of their driveway, the vehicle?s long list of electronic driver aids will be of greater importance. Suffice it to say, they work as should, without causing undue notice.
What you will notice is the GLC?s lavish interior, which boasts an instrument panel similar to that of the C-Class. A large iPad-like infotainment screen rests above three prominent air vents. Its distinctively modern appearance strikes the right chord in an interior that deftly gets the details right, from matte-finished wood to beautiful Nappa leather seat trim.
It?s such a dramatic change, it?s little wonder it warranted a name change.
Now, all Mercedes crossover names will start with the letters GL, with the final letter denoting where the model fits in the lineup. So, this model, with its C-Class sedan underpinnings, is dubbed the GLC. Nevertheless, given its sumptuous styling, lavish list of luxury features, and stellar performance, the only name you?ll call the GLC is ?wonderful.?
It?s a luxury crossover worthy of the three-pointed star.