Drive Review: 'Much of the luxury in GLC43 is optional' for Mercedes-Benz 2020 SUV

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC, a compact luxury sport-utility vehicle, struck us immediately as a substantial improvement over its predecessor, the GLK. The GLC, introduced in 2016, is bigger and much more refined, especially in AMG garb.

AMG — Mercedes-Benz’ performance arm — gives the GLC the full treatment, with a choice of two engines. Our GLC43 came with the 3.0-liter V-6 bi-turbo engine, rated at 385 horsepower. For maximum performance, Mercedes-Benz offers the GLC63, equipped with a 469-horsepower V-8. AMG-badged GLCs are equipped with twin-clutch, 9-speed shiftable automatic transmissions.

We’re pretty sure we’d prefer the GLC300, equipped with a 4-cylinder, turbocharged 255-horsepower engine and all-wheel drive. It costs $15,000 less than the GLC430, and delivers much better fuel economy (21 mpg city, 28 highway, compared with 18/24).

Our chief complaint about the GLC43 was its throttle response. When launched gently from a full stop, the GLC43 behaved like a stick-shift vehicle with a nervous driver at the controls. We attributed this tendency to the twin-clutch gearbox. Practice, and a heavier foot, largely cured this problem.

Our GLC43 had a base price of $59,500, compared with $44,500 for a GL300 with all-wheel drive and the 4-cylinder engine. Options brought the sticker price to $79,710. As often seems to be the case with European luxury rides, much of the “luxury” in the GLC is optional. If you want the full range of safety systems, be prepared to pay an extra $1,700. The multimedia package, including navigation, cost $1,250, and the panorama sunroof added $1,500.

A number of desirable features were included in the base price, however. These included the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) system, satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, power heated front seats with lumbar support, split-folding rear seats, a cargo cover, blind-spot assist, power liftgate and dual-zone automatic climate control.

The MBUX system is one of the best on the market. It has multiple redundancies, including controls on the steering-wheel hub, on the center console and on the touch-screen. It also can be operated by voice command. This system responded well to simple commands, such as “turn to Channel 23,” but it couldn’t find the Milwaukee Brewers-Chicago Cubs game on the Sirius channel where it was being broadcast. (It was able to tell us the score, however.)

2020 Mercedes-Benz AMG GLC43

Price: $79,710

Engine: 30.0-liter biturbo V-6, 385 horsepower, 384 lb.-ft. torque

Transmission: AMG Speedshift TCT 9-speed shiftable automatic

Drive: all-wheel

Ground clearance: 6.7 in.

Weight: 5,661 lb.

Suspension: 4-wheel independent AMG Sport, 4-link front, 5-arm multilink rear

Wheels: 21-in. AMG split 10-spoke, black

Tires: 255/40ZR21 front, 285/35ZR21 summer high-performance

Seating capacity: 5

Maximum cargo capacity: 17.6 cu. ft.

Maximum towing capacity: 3,500 lb.

Fuel capacity: 17.4 gal.

Fuel economy: 18 mpg city, 24 mpg highway

Fuel type: premium unleaded gasoline (recommended)

The GLC43 also had quite a few flourishes, including ambient lighting and brights that gradually revealed the contours of the road ahead, like curtains being pulled open. The split rear seat flips forward at the touch of toggle switches near the tailgate and does not contact the front seat. And there’s a spacious compartment under the rear deck, thanks to the run-flat tires that make a spare tire unnecessary.

Major competitors — and there are many in this segment of luxurious, right-sized SUVs — include the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Porsche Macan, Cadillac XT4, Lincoln MKC, Jaguar F-PACE, Lexus NX, Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Volvo XC40 and Infiniti QX50.

Steven Macoy ( is a longtime car enthusiast and full-time editor who lives in Bethel.