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2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300: when your car learns to talk back

(Image credit: TechRadar)

We talk to other people every day. Now we talk to our phones and smart speakers dotted around our home. So the natural progression of course would be to talk to our cars. We’ve seen Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX system before while driving the A250, and it returns in full force in the 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300.

Aside from swift voice commands, the GLC 300 packs other great tech for safer driving on the road, as well as plenty of creature comforts that offer a superb driving experience. It’s certainly priced to match the amount of tech crammed in here, but know that if you do buy the GLC 300, you’re investing in some substantial amount of tech.

WE DROVE

Mercedes-Benz GLC 300

Engine: 1.9-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power output: 190kW/258hp
Max speed: 240 km/h
0-100km/h: 6.2 seconds
Price: from $69,900

The interior leather finish in our Premium+ model is sadly not the best for Dubai’s sweltering summers, but it does look fantastic. It feels like you’re stepping into a car from the future, ready to drive you to your destination while you flex your Sudoku muscles.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

One of the eye-catching features of the cabin is the digital instrument panel, featuring a crisp 10.5” screen with a 1920x720 resolution. Come day or night, it’s always easy to read whatever is on screen, and there are a number of options to cycle through just the information that’s useful to you as a driver.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

A second screen sits squarely in the middle of the dashboard, offering navigation, audio controls, climate information, and the various settings related to the car. It also supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, though we found that while using Android Auto, it doesn’t utilize the entire screen, but is cropped to fill in only a part of it. More tech comes in the form of a hidden wireless charging pad for your phone, as well as USB-C ports hidden in the center armrest and at the back.

Elsewhere, the GLC 300 flexes more style with adjustable ambient lighting around the cabin, a gorgeous, panoramic sliding sunroof, and plenty of space for rear passengers as well as for cargo in the back.

On the outside you’ll spot improved changes such as new LED lights and revamped front and rear bumpers. Our review model featured a red metallic finish, which on the road really stands out from the crowd. Only when you get behind the wheel of the GLC 300 do you really understand what all the fuss is about.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

Driving the GLC 300 is a whole other experience, and there’s a lot to take in. Firstly, cabin noise is at a bare minimum here – if you’re coasting along the highway you’ll get the faintest bit of wind noise from the side mirrors, but otherwise you can barely hear the low rumble of the engine. 

Pickup is also excellent when you need to overtake someone, with the engine quickly (and quietly) roaring to life to give you that needed speed boost. Handling is also very responsive, and taking sharp turns or roundabouts don’t make you feel like you’re being flung around in your seat.

There’s an exhaustive list of safety and driving aids as well, including lane assist, 360-degree camera, and blind spot assist when changing lanes. It all comes together to ensure that no matter what comes in front or behind your vehicle, you’re always aware and kept safe. 

We found it at times to be a little too precautious, with the sensors warning us of objects that were nowhere in front of us, so there’s a bit of tweaking to do in the settings to adjust their sensitivity. The different driving modes also adjust the car’s handling accordingly – use ECO for the best fuel mileage, Comfort for long-distance driving, and Sport for when you really want to zip around the roads.

The tech dazzling continues with Mercedes-Benz’s MBUX system, which offers nearly complete control of the car using just your voice. A simple ‘Hey Mercedes’ automatically kicks the voice assistant into gear, while simultaneously muting the music and even lowering the AC fan speed so your voice can be clearly heard. You can easily dial contacts, ask for directions, adjust the cabin temperature, and even inquire about weather reports for other cities.

It’s a much more connected system that offers more control of your car than what’s on your smartphone. Accuracy was almost always on point, and over time the system will get better at recognizing your commands the more you use it. The future dream of course would be to sit in your car and say ‘drive me to work’, but we’ll keep that as a pipe dream for now.

(Image credit: TechRadar)

As with previous cars, the GLC 300 supports the ‘Mercedes me connect app’, which offers in-depth information about your vehicle at any time. You can use the app to quickly schedule a service appointment, or even remotely start your car’s engine or lock the doors. It’s a fun add-on that expands the utility of your vehicle, but isn’t essential if you don’t want to use it.

There’s a lot to enjoy with the GLC 300, both in terms of its driving and the amount of tech it has to offer. It offers plenty of safety features that will appeal to anyone who wants to stay extra-alert on the road, and for families it makes an excellent road trip companion.

The GLC 300 pricing starts at $69,900 for the Premium Line and $74,550 for the Premium+ Line. Our review car is priced at $76,750.

Nick Rego

A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys reviewing PC components, 3D Printers, projectors, and anything shiny and expensive. He can also be found baking up a storm in the kitchen, which we are more than happy to encourage.