The new GLC's wheelbase only grows by half an inch, and while that's relatively small, it does manifest inside as a more spacious cabin. The effect, in the rear seats in particular, is enhanced by the narrow shoulders of the front seatbacks, which give rear passengers a good view through to the front. Headroom and legroom are decent in the front and two outer rear seats, with the middle seat more appropriate for children or smaller adults.
The impression of comfort is further bolstered by the aforementioned quiet of the interior in the tough conditions of our test drive. We'll need to test it on the road to be absolutely certain of these impressions, but based on our early drive in the GLC, it'll be even more serene than the very comfortable outgoing model.
How's the GLC's interior?
As a prototype, the GLC we're driving and riding in is wearing interior trim coverings to keep things secret until its official reveal later this year. It's not able to cover everything, though, and with so many of the functions, both drive- and comfort-related, contained within the large central screen it has to be uncovered while we drive it. What's obvious is that Mercedes-Benz has lifted the GLC's interior pretty much entirely from the new C-Class, which is no bad thing. That means there's a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, which offers a degree of configurability to suit your preferences. There's also a 11.9-inch vertically oriented screen situated between the driver and passenger.
What materials and surfaces that can be reached under the covers reveal themselves to be of high quality — similar, again, to the redesigned C-Class. Mercedes-Benz has yet to announce the trim levels, but we're likely to see GLC 300, GLC 300e and an AMG model above those. The interior materials and equipment will change as you climb the range, with the AMG model certain to get more sporting seats and trim. Visual packages such as the AMG Line from the existing GLC are likely to continue to be offered. We'll confirm the GLC's interior specification and options when we sample a production model at the launch later this year.
How's the GLC's tech?
Connectivity, entertainment, infotainment and convenience features are all enhanced for the 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC. Featuring the second incarnation of Merc's impressive MBUX interface, that central touchscreen contains everything from augmented reality-enhanced navigation to an Energizing Coach that alters several interior functions to promote well-being on a journey. Much of that tech is optional, and Mercedes-Benz has yet to confirm standard equipment, but connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto will likely be standard across the range. One of the more interesting features is a 360-degree parking camera, which also shows what's under the body when using the off-road driving mode, to help when driving the GLC on a trail.
The control of all that tech is well integrated, with all key functions easily accessed via the large central touchscreen, with submenus for lesser used functions proving relatively quick and easy to find. The new steering wheel incorporates touch control surfaces allowing further control of many functions, as well as what's displayed ahead of you on the digital instrument screen. If that's too much trouble, saying "Hey Mercedes" and asking it to turn up the heat, change radio stations, call Mom or execute other commands works pretty slickly, too. There are improved driver aids as well such as expanded functionality of traffic sign recognition, an automated parking system and a trailer assist function.
How are the GLC's storage and towing?
The previous GLC's storage capacity of 19.4 cubic feet wasn't exactly class-leading. The new version's cargo area grows to 21.1 cubes, which is still bested by many of its rivals.
Towing figures haven't been released yet, but it's not unreasonable to expect the new GLC to be broadly similar to the existing model, which again trails the best of the competition. If it's not big, capacious or able to tow as much as you'd like it to, Mercedes-Benz's salespeople will happily point you in the direction of the GLE, though for most small families, the GLC's practicality won't be found lacking in too many areas overall.
How economical is the GLC?
Since we only drove a prototype, we cannot provide any official fuel economy figures. What we can say is that with the adoption of that 48-volt mild hybrid tech with the integrated starter-alternator in the automatic transmission, the new GLC should return better gas mileage and emit fewer particulates than the car it replaces. The new plug-in hybrid model's generous range estimates should allow owners to do a sizable portion of their daily driving without ever needing the combustion engine.
The current GLC has been a consistently strong performer against its competition, though it has been recently dethroned by the Genesis GV70 in the small luxury SUV class. Based on our limited test drive of the redesigned model, the 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC might have what it takes to snag the crown once more.