During the last years of GLK production, Mercedes decided to adopt a new design philosophy and a new naming structure. The GL-class became the GLS, the ML-class became the GLE, and the GLK became the GLC. Mercedes also introduced the GLA.
Mercedes did this to align the SUV range with the sedan range because the GLC is the equivalent SUV C-class, the GLA is the A-class of SUVs, the GLS is the equivalent SUV S-class, and the GLE is the equivalent E-class of SUVs.
Mercedes changed their SUV lineup names to introduce a more sedan-oriented design language for upcoming SUV models. Before this point, the GLK was mostly influenced by the G-class as the GLK was rather boxy and upright. Nowadays, the C-classness in the GLC is fairly obvious, because the GLC shares many components with the C-class, which also lowers the development costs.
Mercedes changed names of the entire SUV range except the G-class, since the G-class was always ”in a class of its own”. These changes made the SUV range more holistic and easier to understand, resulting in a reaffirmation of the brand identity in the Mercedes SUV department.
As the entire car market shifts in favor of SUVs, car manufacturers are pumping more money into designing SUVs in a more striking, more up-to-date manner, including the well-established details in sedan offerings.
The same is apparent with Audi and BMW, as all three brands are coming out with “coupe” variants of their SUVs.
Mercedes SUV naming structure
Mercedes realized that the C, E, and S class models have a strong brand name, so changing the name of the SUVs to correspond to that would make the SUVs more appealing against the competition. This is especially true with the GLS as Mercedes keeps marketing the GLS as the “S-class of SUVs.”
The S-classness of the GLS is a bit of a stretch, for now at least, but it certainly does help in understanding what Mercedes wants to accomplish with the GLS. Brands like BMW have been doing this for years, as the X5 is the corresponding SUV class of the 5 series and the X3 matches the 3 series.
Mercedes also wanted to make a greater impact by introducing new names. Brands tend to “refresh” certain models after a couple of years in production, and one way to reiterate the fact that there is a new model in the roster is by changing the name, rather than just by explaining it with different brochures and presentations.
The improvements on the GLK
Besides the fresh looks and features, the GLC offers a lot more than the GLK. The GLC is 4.3 inches longer than the old GLK resulting in 1.3 inches more leg-room in the backseat. Even though the GLC is a lot longer, and all-around bigger than the GLK, it still managed to lose 176 pounds.
The GLC also offers more trunk space, a more luxurious interior and loses its shark fin antenna, making the design a lot sleeker and more modern at the same time. As far as the entire design and feature lists are considered, it is fairly obvious that this is not just a mid-cycle refresh.
Big changes also occurred under the hood as the new GLC offers more fuel-efficient engines, more power, and more torque. The GLC also offers a suspension system that is a lot more compliant on the road, and a lot more capable off-road as well, without sacrificing anything in the process.
The GLC is certainly a step or two above the old GLK, and is evidence that Mercedes has decided to put an emphasis on SUVs in order to stay on track with the current SUV craze.
More questions about Mercedes SUV lineup
Does the new naming structure that Mercedes implemented live up to the expectations?
With the new naming structure, Mercedes has managed to make the entire range a lot more understandable. Even though some SUV models don’t live up to their sedan counterparts at the moment, Mercedes is putting more emphasis on the upcoming SUV models that are surely going to remedy that.
The new naming structure also managed to make room for newer models, such as the GLA, as the structure differentiated certain models from others. This created a gap in which Mercedes could earn a profit.
Why didn’t Mercedes do this from the beginning?
Mostly because no one could have expected SUVs to become so popular. If SUVs did not reach such pop status, most of the Mercedes SUV range would not exist. By changing SUV names now, Mercedes has an opportunity to change the identity of the product so it follows current trends in the automotive industry.
Does it make any sense to consider the GLK now?
While the newer GLC certainly does offer a superior experience in almost every aspect compared to the GLK, the GLK is still a great family car. The GLK was also renowned as being one of the most reliable modern Mercedes cars. Even though the GLC is bigger in every aspect, the GLK still offers ample space.
The GLK is discontinued and you can’t buy a new GLK anymore, but there are many great deals on used GLK models because most people tend to shift to the GLC. The average price for a used GLK is around $18k, and at that price, it is certainly a tempting proposition.
Are there any signs of the SUV popularity slowing down?
In 2019, SUVs outsold sedans 2 to 1. And 2015 was the first year SUV sales surpassed the sale of sedans. As lifestyles keep on changing, it is expected that vans, SUVs, and pickups will make up around 75 percent of the entire new car sales in the US.
Some designers have gone as far as saying that the SUV is the “next car,” that the entire car silhouette is about to change in favor of SUVs. In the older days, SUVs were viewed as a working man’s cars, and you would only buy one if you had to. They were perceived as lower quality compared to sedans, and they were, but only because car manufacturers made them so.
That’s the very reason why SUVs might actually continue to dominate, because now car manufacturers are inclined to offer the best, knowing that it might just pay off.