Towcar review: Mercedes GLC
Looking for a new towcar and wondering whether the Mercedes GLC is worth putting on your shortlist? Check out our expert review with ratings for this premium compact SUV.
It’s fair to say that Mercedes wasn’t exactly ahead of the game when it came to entering the premium compact SUV market. But although the GLC might be a new kid on the block in what is a very competitive sector, it is now the brand’s most popular SUV, so it seems it was worth the wait.
Comfort – 84%
A limited refresh in 2019 – including upgraded LED headlamps, new front grille and a redesigned bumper incorporating LED brake lights – definitely gives the GLC a more stylish appearance, making it a handsome car in anyone’s book.
The good looks continue inside. In this Sport model (three trim levels are available – Sport, AMG Line and AMG Line Premium) – the interior feels plush, with plenty of brushed-metal detailing and soft-touch plastics adorning the cabin. The Artico man-made leather seats are comfortable and come with electric back and height adjustment as standard.
The central dash is elegant and easy to navigate, with piano-key switchgear for heating and ventilation and a series of shortcut buttons for the infotainment system. The 10.25in touchscreen does look like a bit of an afterthought, due to its position perched above the air vents, but it is simple to use and boasts decent graphics. All functions can be accessed via the central touchpad – although I found this a tad fiddly – as well as the steering wheel or the ‘Hey Mercedes’ voice-activated facility.
Mercedes only offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality on the AMG Line Premium model – they are not even an option on lower-spec models, which is disappointing on a car with a £40,000 price tag.
Behind the wheel there is a set of smart analogue dials with a small digital screen for driver information and sat-nav directions.
There’s plenty of stowage, with a large central bin housing two USB charging points, a covered cubbie with cup holders and a 12V socket.
Unfortunately the rear of the car is a little less luxurious, featuring more hard, scratchy plastics. And while your passengers won’t be short on head or legroom, they don’t get many other treats – just two USB charging points, a 12V socket and air vents. That said, the seats are very comfortable and it’s possible to seat three adults comfortably due to the small transmission tunnel.
Driving – 87%
Mercedes has fitted the GLC with a range of new petrol and diesel engines as part of its refresh. The 220d 4Matic Sport version now gets a much cleaner and quieter 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine which delivers 400Nm of torque and 191bhp.
There’s plenty of power when you need it for overtaking, yet it’s just as at home when cruising along the motorway. Add the standard nine-speed automatic gearbox – which is seamless – driving the GLC is a real doddle. It’s quiet too; even under heavy acceleration the engine note doesn’t become intrusive. Travelling around town is easy, but if you’re looking for a sporty SUV then the GLC may not be for you, as the light steering doesn’t instil confidence when cornering. However, it does offer good grip thanks to the standard four-wheel drive, and there’s a range of driving modes too, including, Comfort, Sport, Eco and Individual.
Fuel economy exceeded expectations, the GLC returning a respectable 29.8mpg while towing and a solo figure of 43.1mpg.
Towing – 90%
The GLC on test was fitted with an electric towbar – a £750 option – which can be easily deployed from either inside the cabin or by a switch on the tailgate. Hitching was made easier by a rear camera and once on the road the Mercedes was a great towcar, really making light work of hauling a large caravan.
The engine remained quiet and composed even on steeper inclines, and there was no shortage of power when needed. At lower speeds it had a tendency to get a bit bouncy over undulating surfaces, but there was no pitching or tugging and it remained steadfastly stable when passing lorries. The large boot – 550 litres rising to 1,600 litres with the seats folded – will certainly hold all your caravanning equipment with room to spare and the flush load lip means luggage will easily slide in. There’s extra storage under a lockable boot floor too.
Verdict – 87%
If comfort is your main priority then the Mercedes GLC should definitely be on your shortlist. It tows well and fuel economy is good, but at this trim level you don’t get as much kit as you’d expect for this price.