Caraganza First Drive Review 2023 Mercedes GLC 300 4Matic: A vegan burger instead of a T-bone steak

Everything in my world right now is fine. Good job, nice house, good family; all in all, it’s fine.

Sometimes though I don’t want fine, I want a bit of the world outside fine, a jump into an uncomfortable area that pushes the boundaries of normalcy. Sadly, I don’t get an occasion to do this on a regular basis; I refuse to pay to jump out of perfectly good airplanes since I used to get paid to do so, and since I’m fat a ride on a roller coaster means I must be squeezed into a seat that’s way too small while all the time hoping I don’t get flung out.

Used to be a time when I could visit that uncomfortable world beyond fine in some of the cars I get to test. Not that I take a high-performance model and race along city streets like I was in Monaco, but it’s nice to know I could if I wanted to.

Sadly, in the last few years the parade of cars has been sedans, crossovers, SUVs, and coupes that are hybrids, electrics, or powered by an anemic 4 cylinder that seems frightened to get up to highway speed.

When delivered a new Mercedes GLC 300 for a recent week though, I thought ‘good’ maybe I’ll get a chance to jump outside the boundaries of normalcy. Disappointingly, however, it was just ‘fine’.

After redesigning the C class, Mercedes carried them over and debuted those changes in the 2023 GLC-class and the GLC SUV. Underneath the GLC 300 SUV is mechanically like the sedan, sharing the C-class’s standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine, 48-volt hybrid system, and nine-speed automatic transmission. And while you might not see much difference from the outside there was a slight stretch in overall length adding some cargo space. Inside it gets the same tech upgrades like the large, vertically-oriented touchscreen infotainment display and advanced driver-assistance features.

Yes, it’s nice, the interior is like flying in a private plane feasting on caviar while drinking champagne. Overall, the GLC 300 4Matic is a well-rounded, competent SUV. It’s got a decent 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that produces a respectable 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. It can do the 0-60 mph dash in around 6 seconds, which for the average driver is perfectly fine.

But I had to wonder: Where’s the drama? Where’s the theatre? Where’s the AMG badge that transforms a sensible family SUV into a fire-breathing, tire-shredding monster?

I miss the days when Mercedes would take a car like this and throw a hand-built AMG engine into it turning it into a snarling beast with the power of a thousand stallions. Like the Mercedes E63 AMG S-Model 4Matic Wagon I had in 2014 that was one of the most fun cars I’ve ever had; a station wagon that had 577 horsepower under the hood, something for which there is no reason for someone to own other than because they can.

The 2023 GLC 300 4Matic I tested did have the “AMC Line” package with synthetic suede upholstery, a flat-bottom sport steering wheel, larger front brake discs and a unique front bumper and grille design. But with only 255 horses under the hood, it’s like ordering a double espresso and getting a decaf latte; or going to a rock concert and being handed earplugs. It’s like asking for a steak and getting a vegan burger. You get my drift.

Perhaps that E63 marked the end of the golden age of AMG, the time when you’d have had the GLC 63 AMG with its thunderous V8 engine, producing enough horsepower to launch a rocket into orbit. With a symphony of crackles and pops from the exhaust that could wake the dead.

Now, all you get is a polite hum and a slight nod to the performance heritage.

Maybe with the pivot towards saving Mother Earth and plugging our cars into the wall, that golden age will be no more.  The GLC 300 is fine, but it’s like having that bottle of champagne and being told you can only sip it through a straw; a declawed lion on a leash when what you really want is to ride it bareback.

There is talk that there will be an AMG version available starting in 2024. God, I hope so, I really do. Because I’m not content with “fine.”

Mercedes, if you’re listening, please, give us what we really want—a GLC 63 AMG with all the bells, whistles, and fireworks. Until then, I’ll be dreaming of the day when I can unleash the full fury of a true AMG masterpiece on the open road once again.

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4Matic
MSRP: $49,100
MSRP (as tested): $64,750
Engine: 2.0 Liter Intercooled Turbo Gas/Electric I-4 255 horsepower @5800 rpm, 295 lb-ft torque @2000 rpm
Transmission: 9 speed automatic
Base Curb Weight (pounds): 4277
Fuel Mileage (EPA): 23 city, 31 highway, 26 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 24 mpg

Exterior Dimensions (Inches)
Wheelbase: 113.1
Length: 185.7
Width, without mirrors: 75.6
Height: 64.6

Interior Dimensions
Passenger / Seating Capacity: 5
Total Passenger Volume (cubic feet)
Front Head Room (inches): 41.3
Front Shoulder Room (inches): 57.3
Front Hip Room (inches): 59
Second Row Head Room (inches): 39.6
Second Row Shoulder Room (inches) 56.6
Second Row Hip Room (inches): 58.3
Cargo Space/Area Length Behind Second Row (inches): 39.1
Cargo Bed Height (inches): 29.2
Cargo Space/Area Behind Front Row (cubic feet): 56.3
Cargo Space/Area Behind Second Row (cubic feet): 21.9
Cargo Space/Area Behind Third Row (cubic feet): 21.9

4 Basic Years / 50,000 Basic Miles
4 Drivetrain Years / 50,000 Drivetrain Miles
4 Corrosion Years / 50,000 Corrosion Miles
8 Hybrid/Electric Components Years / 100,000 Hybrid/Electric Components Miles
4 Roadside Assistance Years / 50,000 Roadside Assistance Miles

Greg Engle