The 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 is a car I usually approach with a lot of enthusiasm. I’ve always found that the GLC plays the compact luxury crossover game better than most. It’s the perfect size, it looks rather cool and in AMG form, it’s one hell of a fun family hauler. Unfortunately, none of that was felt when I was driving around in the 2023 model. As a matter of fact, it was all rather underwhelming.
2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 Review : What’s Up With The Paint Quality?
The thing is, during the same week my photographer Guillaume and I were driving around in the 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300, I was also driving the 2023 Hyundai IONIQ 6. The Mercedes fanboys are going to hate me for saying this, but the Hyundai felt like a considerably more polished product than this Mercedes.Ok, fine, the IONIQ 6 is an all-new vehicle and this GLC is basically 7 years old. Even if Mercedes tried to update the shit out of it when giving us a “second-generation” GLC, it’s still an ageing platform that was built at a time when Mercedes was a completely different brand. Yes, a lot has changed since 2016. I’m now much fatter. I’m also a dad. The entire planet is melting a lot quicker than when the GLC was originally launched. Hyundais are now awesome and Tesla is outselling everything. EVs are now king. Sadly, the GLC simply doesn’t work in this new world.Let me begin with the way this thing looks. It’s still the right size. I also find that some of the original design’s curvaceous theme have been preserved, even if this second-generation model added slimmer LED headlights and tailights. What I particularly like about the GLC’s design, is that it maintains that very German hatchback utilitarian look. So it never really looks like a truck, but rather an overblown hot hatchback. That’s just cool.The problem with the example I was driving was that although it boasted a $70,185 price tag ($58,900 base price), it never really felt like a premium product. For starters, the 19-inch AMG Aero wheels looked downright goofy. Why on God’s Earth would you want aero wheels on a gasoline powered car? For reduced fuel economy? Ok, fine. But why do they need to look so stupid? They could have looked like the ones on the EQS.Then there was a problem with paint which, not only did it look very lame in its Graphite Grey color, but it was also loaded with orange peel, the kind of orange peel you basically don’t get on a Hyundai product. Now, I get that the GLC is at the bottom of the Mercedes lineup. But no customer deserves to buy a new car whose paint looks like it was done by your local bodyshop. The problem with the GLC is that the entire car looks and feels cheap. In this day and age, that’s just unacceptable, especially coming from a brand whose slogan is “The Best or Nothing”.
Punchy Drivetrain, Fun Handling, Lame Engine Sound
Underneath the 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300’s hood sits a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that’s now assisted by a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Total combined output is rated at 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. No, the GLC 300 is not a real hybrid in the sense that it cannot run on full electric mode. Its mild hybrid system essentially acts as a large start-stop system, assisting the gasoline engine when it’s working the hardest. This in turn reduces carbon emissions and improves fuel economy. All GLCs sold in Canada come standard with 4MATIC all-wheel drive, while a 9-speed automatic transmission puts the power to the ground.I took the GLC out for a long roadtrip from Montreal to Toronto. The drive really allowed me to explore its character, its qualities and its faults. I like that there’s a sweet blend of sportiness and plushness in the GLC’s suspension damping. On one hand, it always has a stiff side to it, the way the Germans tend to do things. On the other hand, the GLC is always super composed and comfortable. Its chassis is rock solid and takes in the hits your spine would normally endure. It never flexes nor bounces annoyingly on uneven terrain. What you end up with is a sporty little SUV that also manages to be easy to live with.Power from the turbocharged mill is never an issue. While a tad underpowered on paper versus some of its rivals, there’s still plenty of oomph there to let this little bugger pick itself up in a jiffy. Never fast per se, the GLC 300 is still no slouch, with enjoyable turbo boost midrange and a willingness to keep revving to redline without running out of puff.Unfortunately, this engine never sounds actually good. On idle, it sounds like a diesel, and when it’s running full boil, it could very well be powering a Daewoo from its utter lack of personality.The 9-speed gearbox is only fine, delivering gears with a bit of lag, and sometimes downright refusing to downshift. During casual driving though, it’s totally ok. It also helped me return a rather impressive 9.5L/100 km fuel consumption average during my trip, so there’s that.The 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 also had a few tricks up its sleeve interior-wise. While I was deeply disappointed to find hard plastics and hearing most materials crack when I’d manipulate them, that cabin sure looks the part. There’s a neat art-deco feel to everything, and I personally love those chrome air vents that could very well have been taken out of an expensive yacht. Overall seat comfort in a GLC is impeccable, with plenty of lumbar and lateral support options, as well as massaging features.Mercedes’ MBUX infotainment interface continues to impress with its cool graphics, well executed navigation system and gimmicky but interesting augmented reality features. It’s also quick to react, but at times, I did wish I had more physical buttons at my disposal.The GLC continues to do well in family hauling tasks. That rear seat offers a decent amount of leg and headroom even for tall passengers, and the cargo area will engulf up to 1,594 liters of your gear when the rear seatbacks are folded flat. This puts the GLC midpack, behind an Acura RDX, but neck to neck with a BMW X3.The obvious question at this point is should you buy a 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300? The straight answer is no, because for that kind of money, you can get a compact luxury SUV that won’t take you for granted. This is a sad case of buy me because of my badge. It’s something an Acura RDX doesn’t do. Personally, I’d get a Genesis GV70 instead. For about the same price as this GLC, you’ll get more power, more equipment, nicer paint and – ahem – better looking wheels.
Review of the 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 by William Clavey
Compact Luxury SUVs
- Still the right format.
- Punchy and efficient drivetrain.
- Beautiful, comfortable and practical interior.
- Unacceptable paint quality.
- Lame-sounding drivetrain.
- Never feels like a luxury item.
7 / 10
Clavey’s Corner is located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Prices and trim levels discussed in this article reflect the Canadian car market.
Special thanks: Mercedes-Benz Canada
Photography: Guillaume Fournier
Contact the author: [email protected]