Credit the GLC 300’s new-for-2020 turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine for this feat. Introduced in the 2019 C300, the 255-horsepower engine produces 14 more ponies relative to the previous turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four of last year’s GLC 300. Mercedes claims the GLC 300’s extra horses of the updated GLC 300 help it scoot to 60 miles per hour in 6.1 seconds, or up to 0.3 second quicker than the prior model.
With minimal turbo lag and a healthy 273 pound-feet of torque available at 1,800 revs, the forced-induction four ably pushes the GLC 300 off the line and past the slower moving traffic that dots Jersey City. Hammer the right pedal, and the engine eagerly spins to its 6,500 rpm redline, all the while emitting a pleasing – for a four-cylinder – legato grunt.
If only the GLC 300’s nine-speed automatic transmission were as agreeable as its engine. Although it swaps cogs unobtrusively, the gearbox is slow to downshift in the crossover’s default Comfort setting. Toggling to the more aggressive Sport or Sport Plus drive modes improves the transmission’s responses, but both settings also make it prone to holding gears longer than necessary for typical daily driving (there’s also an Eco mode, as well as a configurable Individual mode). At least there are a pair of steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles that afford manual control of the gearbox.
While Mercedes’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system is available as a $2,000 extra, the GLC 300 I drive does without the feature. Instead, the powertrain sends all of its oomph to the rear wheels. With 88 pounds less weight to carry around on its front end, the rear-drive GLC 300 proves particularly lively on twisting tarmac. Thanks to its light but direct steering, rigid underpinnings, and stiff springs, the 3,889-pound compact crossover is far more entertaining to push around than its mass might suggest. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that this GLC includes $1,250 worth of 20-inch wheels wrapped in summer tires. With gobs of lateral grip from the sticky rubber, limited body roll, and a firm brake pedal, the GLC feels almost as confidence-inspiring on asphalt as its lighter and lower C300 stablemate.
The GLC’s nimble nature comes at the cost of ride quality, though, and the crossover’s multi-link front and rear suspensions’ stiff tuning leaves heads tossing and cargo turning while going over small road irregularities. That said, it’s likely the GLC’s standard 18-inch wheels and all-season tires make for a less rigid ride.
Refreshed exterior cues accompany the GLC 300’s underhood changes, and include a new grille, reworked front and rear fascias, redesigned LED headlights, and updated LED taillights. The optional AMG Line package substitutes the standard Off-Road exterior design’s rather conservative front and rear fascias for more aggressive pieces, as well as additional items such as package-specific 19-inch wheels and cross-drilled front brake discs.
Regardless, the GLC’s new looks add handsome glitz to a generally restrained design. Those searching to turn heads may want to consider the more ostentatious GLC 300 Coupe, which trades the standard model’s tall, wagon-like body for a roofline that plunges aft of the B-pillar. Available exclusively with all-wheel-drive, the Coupe’s $50,000 starting price is $7,500 greater than that of the standard GLC.