Mercedes GLC vs Audi Q5, BMW X3 and LR Discovery Sport: first static comparison

Mercedes GLC vs competition
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How good is the new Mercedes GLC? Until to the first driving report, here is the first static comparison with its main rivals Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Land Rover Discovery Sport.

It is quite a paradox. The former GLK with its angular lines remind about the iconic G-Class. Even it had a long travel suspension, a good ground clearance and good approach and departure angles, the former GLK was not a top off-roader. Ok, it was more polyvalent than the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 which focus on driving dynamics but GLK was a real brother of G-Class only in therm of design.

Now, the new GLC came with fluid lines, approaching modern design lines of the new C-Class. But under the body we found a SUV much more prepared for off-road than the former GLK.

BMW discovered 15 years ago that 98% of the clients does not use their SUV in tough off-road and Mercedes and Land Rover has agreed with this statement. But on the other side, clients are pleased to know that their SUV has enough off-road abilities.

Dieter Zetsche, Daimler CEO, declared last week at the GLC launch ceremony: “Even if they rarely use their off-road ability, it’s an insurance policy – they like to know they can get out if the weather turns bad”.

With this idea in mind, the new GLC creates new standards in the middle size SUV segment. But before going into details, one clarification is needed. Mercedes does not consider that Porsche Macan is a rival for GLC. This role is reserved for the future GLC Coupe which will be launched next year.

For this reason, Mercedes has mentioned in the press kit that the new GLC is the first middle size SUV with a pneumatic suspension. Because Macan has also a pneumatic suspension. But Macan still not have a four cylinder version.

Coming back to traditional rivals, let’s see what are the advantages and disadvantages of the new GLC.

The GLC has one of the best off-road aptitudes in class. Only Land Rover Discovery could match it.

Using the new MRA platform from the C-Class, GLC can be configured with pneumatic suspension in combination with an off-road package.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d 4MATIC (X 253) 2015

The standard ground clearance with classical suspension is 181 mm, but with off-road package and pneumatic suspension, clearance is 227 mm and could reach 277 mm in rock assist mode. By comparison, Discovery Sport has 212 mm, while BMW X3 and Audi Q5 stands at 200 mm above the ground.

With off-road package and pneumatic suspension, GLC has one of the best approach/brakeover/departure angles: 31/20/25 degrees (BMW X3 26/19/21 degrees, Audi Q5 25/18/25 degrees, Discovery Sport 25/21/31 degrees).

On the other side, Discovery Sport record the best fording depth with 600 mm (only 300 mm for GLC even in the version with pneumatic version).

The new GLC benefits also by the hybrid construction of the body with a massive use of aluminium like in case of the new C-Class. Despite increasing in dimensions (plus 12 cm in length, 5 cm in width, 11.8 cm at wheelbase), the new GLC is 80 kg lighter than the former GLK. From the 80 kg, 50 kg were saved at the body.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1 (X 253) 2015

The best selling version, GLC 220d 4Matic/170 HP and 9 speed automatic gearbox weights 1,845 kg, while the Discovery Sport with the new 2 litre Ingenium engines (150 and 180 HP) and Audi Q5 2.0 TDI /177 HP with S Tronic are 70 kg lighter. BMW X3 xDrive 20d is the lightest in class with 1,745 kg for the xDrive 20d with 8 speed automatic gearbox.

The former GLK has suffered by a smaller kneeroom and a smaller boot in comparison with its rivals. But on the other hand, the former GLK was the smallest in the class.

With 2,873 mm wheelbase – the longest in the segment (Discovery Sport 2,741 mm, Audi Q5 2,810 mm, BMW X3 2,810 mm), a front/rear elbow room 1,499/1,474 mm and a front/rear headroom 1,065/1,005 mm, GLC promise now much more space for the rear passengers. Mercedes declare that the effective legroom in the rear has increased with 57 mm from 891 mm to 948 mm.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d 4MATIC (X 253) 2015

The boot volume has increased also dramatically from 470 to 550 litres while the maximum capacity reach 1,600 litres (1,550 litres before. BMW X3 offers exactly the same loading capacity in both cases 550 to 1,600 litres, while Audi delivers between 540 and 1,560 litres. Discovery Sport does not present any official figures about the boot volume but this is the only car in this segment which can be ordered with sevens seats.

For the sales start, Mercedes GLC is available with engines with only four cylinders: two diesels with 2.1 litre and 170/204 HP and the 2 litre petrol with 211 HP all of them mated with the 9 speed automatic gearbox.

Discovery Sport 2.0 litre Ingenium/150 HP and 180 HP and the Mercedes GLC 220d 4Matic/170 HP and GLC 250d 4Matic/204 HP are the most efficient with a mixt fuel consumption of 4.9 l/100 km respectively 5.0 l/100 km. With 190 HP, BMW X3 needs 5.2 l/100 km for every 100 km, while Audi Q5 2.0 TDI/177 HP has a fuel consumption of 5.9 l/100 km.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d 4MATIC (X 253) 2015

Launched half a year before, Discovery Sport has also only three engines with 4 cylindres in the same power spectrum like the GLC. Audi and BMW came with a larger versions offer. Above four cylinder versions, Audi Q5 range include two V6 petrol (S Q5 is available only for US market) two V6 diesel (including the top S Q5 TDI with 313 HP) plus a Hybrid non Plug-In Hybrid version. In case of BMW X3 you can choos between two 4 cylindre petrol engine (184 and 245 HP), a six inline petrol with 306 HP and two diesels with 4 cylinders (150 and 190 HP) and two with 6 cylinders (258 and 313 HP).

Mercedes GLC range will be completed with the GLC 350e, the first middle size Plug-In Hybrid SUV and with V6 engines petrol and diesels.

It seems to be only a formality until GLC 63 AMG with 4.0 litre V8 biturbo engines with 510 HP will get the green light. When will happen, this will be the most powerful mid size SUV.


  • I choose Audi Q5, sorry ;) But Mercedes GLC is second to me :)

  • Jeff Allen says:

    I had an Audi Q5 and have just ordered the GLC. The Audi has a great interior but the ride quality is awful and the worst in the group. The Discovery Sport gives the best off road options but the interior is not as good as the GLC. The X3 is showing its age but the I-Drive is much better than the Command in the GLC. The GLC has a really quiet engine (250 CDI) and the ride quality is best in class (Ive ordered off road pack & air suspension) so overall the package is the new standard. Down side its very expensive.

    • Razvan Magureanu says:

      Dear sir
      Thank you for comment. You are right. Audi has a very rigid and firm suspension. Discovery sport – the ergonomics and the quality is not at the level of Audi. Bmw x3 is not so new but idrive remain the best and the interior space is the best. I agree that glc has the best ride quality and a very refined engine 204 hp in glc 250 cdi.