The wraps have come off the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class, and, as expected, the renamed GLK crossover SUV has made huge strides beyond its new look and features. Based on the latest C-Class platform, this 5-passenger compact has grown in scale and status. It now offers M-B's most advanced infotainment and safety technology to complement a far more refined dynamic character and enhanced off-road capability. 

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Announced in Euro trims that include gasoline and turbodiesel models, AMG-spec variants and a plug-in hybrid, the GLC-Class will arrive here this November in rear-drive GLC 300 and GLC 300 4Matic guise. Both will be fitted with M-B's 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine making 241 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 273 lb-ft of torque from 1,300 to 4,000 revs. Regardless of driven wheels, the engine will be paired with a 9G-Tronic 9-speed automatic transmission. 

A touch of elegant edge 

The GLC-Class boasts bolder yet smoother and more sophisticated exterior styling - a look dubbed "Sensual Purity" by its designers. Mercedes says it offers class-leading aero figures in Europe and with its bounty of wind-cheating details and a full underbody fairing it promises to remain near the head of the class here as well, where it will arrive wearing a larger standard wheel/tire package. All U.S. models also will be fitted with unique front/rear bumpers optimized for off-road use that can accommodate 28-degree approach/departure angles.

Although the new GLC-Class is 4.7 inches longer, 2.0 inches wider and has a significantly broader track than the GLK-Class, it weighs 176 pounds less. A full 110 pounds of that reduction comes from an all-new, stiffer, stronger core that interweaves aluminum with high-strength and ultra-high-strength steel. The mass-shedding formula for the new GLC-Class also includes using aluminum for the hood, roof and front fenders as well as most suspension components and magnesium for the transmission housing. The most notable gain in the GLC makeover involves a 4.6-inch stretch of its wheelbase, a change that adds to ride comfort and brings  2.2-inches of added leg room for those occupying its 40/20/40 flat-folding rear bench seat.

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Beyond the upgrades to overall people and cargo space, the cabin of the 2016 GLC-Class boasts a more sophisticated look and feel that recalls appearance of the new GLE-Class as well as other members of the M-B sedan family. The dash features a large fixed 7.0-inch center display while a console-mounted touchpad sits atop the rotary controller. U.S. models will come standard with brown linden wood trim and MB-Tex, but offer black open-pore ash, high-gloss brown burl walnut or a black piano-lacquer look as well as leather or Nappa leather options - including platinum pearl white in as part of the designo package. An internet-capable Audio 20 USB sound system with Frontbass is standard and Burmester premium upgrade will be offered. The new GLC-Class also benefits from extensive noise attenuation efforts that keep interior sound levels at freeway speeds equal to an E-Class sedan. 

Class-exclusive air suspension system

Underpinning the 2016 GLC-Class is an all-new suspension offered in two flavors that deliver superior performance compared to the GLK-Class. The standard Agility Control setup matches steel springs with adaptive dampers while the optional Air Body Control - the only full air suspension available in this category -- uses multi-chamber continuously adjustable shocks that serve up improved stability and comfort regardless of terrain. Both can be fine-tuned using the multi-mode Dynamic Select system that further tweaks the chassis, transmission, throttle and steering response. The 4Matic system also has been specifically redesigned for GLC-Class duty and features a new discrete single-stage transfer case that provides greater operating efficiency.

On the driver-assist/safety front, the 2016 GLC-Class comes with standard features from the C-, E- and S-Class including Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Crosswind Assist, Attention Assist and Active Highbeam Assisted LED headlights. The Driver Assist Package includes Distronic Plus cruise control with Steering Assist, Pre-Safe Brake with pedestrian detection, BAS Plus with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and Pre-Safe Plus. A head-up display is optional. 

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Buyers seeking to further personalize their new GLC-Class can choose from a noir-themed Night Package, two different design packages and an AMG Line trim group as well as single items like a panoramic glass roof with electric roller sunblind, rubber-studded aluminum-look running boards, an LED Intelligent Light System and the Easy Pack power tailgate with hands-free access. Pricing for the 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 and GLC 300 4MAtic as well as EPA fuel economy numbers will be announced closer to their actual on-sale date.

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