Cars

Published on January 14th, 2020 | by Subhash Nair

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2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC 200 Review: A Better Starter-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz GLC was recently facelifted in Malaysia and we got a chance to spend a weekend with the entry-level car, the GLC 200. This facelift model sees some notable mechanical changes, as well as some subtle ones to the car’s aesthetics. Its feature set too has been improved, but buyers will now have to factor the small price increase to decide if enough value has been added for them. What’s more, the introduction of ALL-NEW premium SUV rivals from Audi, BMW, and Volvo makes the challenge for Mercedes-Benz Malaysia in this segment particularly tough.

The GLC 200 features a new 2-litre turbocharged direct injection petrol engine called the M264. We’ve seen this engine in some other Benz vehicles, but this its debut on the GLC. While it may look similar on paper, the engine now produces 194hp and 320Nm of torque, and increase of 10hp and 20Nm over what the original GLC 200 offered. The new engine is paired to the familiar 9-speed conventional automatic, the 9G-TRONIC, developed in-house by Daimler. The transmission still sends power to the rear wheels only, but the GLC 200 now does the century sprint in 7.8 seconds (versus 8.7 seconds originally) and has a slightly higher top speed.

Additional mechanical changes include a change in the suspension set up. This facelifted GLC 200 gets Comfort tuned suspension that sits 20mm higher than before. That being said, it has lower-profile tyres wrapped around 20” alloy rims now, so there is a bit of give and take here. 

These mechanical changes translate to an appreciable improvement in the way the GLC 200 performs. Where once was a passable premium experience, now is something that meets the benchmark set by some of the GLC’s rivals. The GLC 200 now delivers a good driving experience and isn’t quite as harsh or sluggish as it was in its previous form.

BHP

Perhaps the only complaint that remains is the disconnected steering feel that in non-Sport modes that doesn’t quite stiffen up to react to changing conditions unless asked. I would still recommend the Volvo XC60 T5 for those who regularly have occupants in the rear seats, but otherwise, the Benz is a more exciting vehicle to drive. 

Aesthetically, the facelifted GLC 200 puts me in a difficult position. On the one hand, the original GLC was already an iconic SUV. It had the familiar Benz face that we’d seen on the W205, and the rest of its lines fell into place in a unique and beautiful way.

This facelift of the GLC changes things drastically at the front, creating a more tapered look, but busier look. The headlights are now more intricate, with LED reflectors and a new bumper assembly gives the entire headlight unit a unique shape as well.

The softer, less aggressive shape of this new headlight shape gives the GLC a softer look, akin to the original ML in my eyes.

At the rear, a more intricate LED pattern gives the tail light cluster more depth and intricacy.

The “off-road” package here bolsters the GLC 200’s image and makes it look a little bit more premium, which is what one might want out of an entry-level Benz. The 20” rims, while not of the greatest design, is a HUGE step up over the pre-facelift’s 19” 5-spokes.

So while it’s not as exciting to look at as the original GLC was in its 250 4MATIC form, it’s definitely a better-looking vehicle than the original GLC 200.

I think the original GLC will continue to be a great looking car, but this one does enough to distinguish itself and keep the SUV fresh looking to face its competitors.

Inside, dark open-pore wood trim against black leather replaces the light brown-on-light brown affair that plagued the original GLC 200 test unit we had in 2017. A customisable 64-colour ambient lighting system lets you decorate the car’s interior in about any shade you want. 

A much more modern looking 10.25” infotainment unit now graces the cabin, as does a 12.3” digital instrument cluster.

MBUX is present in the GLC 200, but we had to turn off voice recognition as it seemed to be over-sensitive whenever the word “Mercedes” was mentioned by any of the occupants. It’s good that Apple Carplay and Android Auto were both present. The new touch interface is also a breath of fresh air over the previous COMAND module.

The problem we had was that the shift towards 100% USB-C charging sockets. Our 1-year old flagship phone, which came supplied from the manufacturer with a USB-C to USB-A cable, couldn’t be charged in-car without heading to a shop and purchasing a new cable first. Having at least one type-A socket would be great for convenience. BMW too have begun to offend in this regard, but I suppose neither brand can be the last to make the switch to USB-C.

Mercedes ME services were present on the GLC 200, meaning the car was connected to the internet and could interface with a few digital services. While these were nice-to-haves, we found no need to use them during our drive. It is nice to know that the car has an SOS function that ought to connect you to emergency services should the worse happen.

We had nowhere else to put this photo

Entry levels Benz cars tend to leave a lot of kit behind, but with the GLC 200, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia have tackled MOST of the essentials. A powered tailgate, a push-to-start button, rear air-cond vents and are standard. But the omission of keyless entry and wireless Qi charging (in the absence of USB-A ports) will be felt by some.

All-in-all, my impression of the new GLC 200 is this: it’s an improvement over the car it directly replaces, and the small RM5,000 price bump is justified for the number of changes. But as a premium vehicle costing close to RM300,000, it’s still lacking in a few key aspects: space, ergonomics, and comfort – all traditional Benz values that continue to elude the GLC nameplate.

It looks bigger in there than it is

Its strengths are its looks, undeniable presence, improved powertrain, and feature set. Every other aspect was at an acceptable level for the premium compact SUV segment.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 200 Specifications
Engine: Inline-4, 16 Valve, DOHC, Petrol
Capacity: 1991 cc
Gearbox: 9-speed Conventional Automatic
Max power: 194 hp @ 6100 rpm
Max torque: 320 Nm @ 1300 rpm
Top Speed: 217 km/h
0-100 km/h: 7.8 seconds
Price: RM299,888


About the Author

Written work on dsf.my. @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.



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