Every week, wheels.ca selects a new vehicle and takes a good look at its entry-level trim. If we find it worthy of your consideration, we’ll let you know. If not, we’ll recommend one – or the required options – that earns a passing grade.
For years, there have been arguments about the choice of luxury-branded automakers choosing to offer vehicles with approachable price tags. Some say it cheapens the overall brand, while others point to these ‘gateway’ models representing a steppingstone to something more aspirational. After all, the thinking goes, hook ‘em early and you’ve got a customer for life. The extra profits and sales volume these less-expensive models bring to the corporate bottom line are also welcome, it should be noted, and potentially provide the cash needed to continue producing so-called ‘halo cars’ which are desirable but tend to sell at a glacial pace.
Notice your author used the term ‘less expensive’ and not ‘cheap’. This is thanks to the (recent, if not historical) tendency of manufacturers like Mercedes-Benz to craft even their entry-level machines with similar zeal as their more expensive brothers. While the GLC isn’t the lowest cost Benz in their lineup of crossovers – the GLA and GLB are $8,000 and $4,000 less, respectively – it does represent a very popular size class, one which can fit the whole family without too much folding and bending.
A price of $50,900 grants entry to the GLC 300 4MATIC, providing a turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-four making 255 horsepower and clocking a run to highway speeds in about six seconds. All-wheel drive is part of the deal, so make sure to factor that consideration when cross-shopping some of its competitors which make do with front-wheel drive as their base offer. The quad-bar grille and jumbo Mercedes badge give the GLC an upscale schnoz very similar to far more expensive models in the stable, though and colour other than white or black is an extra-cost item. If you want the dot-matrix AMG grille and front bumper, that’ll be a further $1,800.
Moving inside, eager beavers will note the Mercedes configurator offers up six different upholstery colours at no charge. However, the eye-catching Cranberry Red and Saddle Brown require the selection of certain option packages, meaning they do actually cost extra. Heated seats are standard (ventilated chairs are $1,300) as are heated mirrors and dual-zone climate control. That’s a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen, smaller than some other offerings, but Mercedes does include a USB-C port for every passenger so there shall be no complaining about not having anywhere to charge a device on road trips. The rear seat has convenient buttons in the cargo area for power-folding duties.
What We’d Choose
Spending just $250 on open-pore interior wood trim is recommended to ward off a lifetime of fingerprints which will surely accumulate on the standard-kit piano black trim. A heated steering wheel should be standard at this price but isn’t; at least it’s available as a stand-alone $250 option with no other additions required. Also, it is infuriating that Mercedes charges an extra $475 for satellite radio capability but it’s worth the cash compared to enduring the incessant natter of irritating DJs on terrestrial radio.
We’d leave the $4,300 Premium Package on the factory floor, since it represents a pricey way to simply get a bigger infotainment screen with smartphone integration and a panoramic sunroof. Binning this package also means the rear hatchback is manually-operated but we’ll consider reaching for that panel after removing our groceries as our daily workout.