Critics’ Notebook: Mercedes-Benz GLC300

You'll notice it for its practicality, if you notice it at all.

Mercedes Benz GLC300

The Mercedes-Benz GLC300 is a perfectly nice compact-ish crossover. It’s built on the C-Class’s delightfully luxurious chassis and shares much of that car’s lovely interior, including the cerused wood treatment that we only recognize (and know to name) because it was identified by a famous interior designer. It has the C-Class’ robust yet relatively efficient 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a powerplant remarkably close to those in the smallish sedans and crossovers produced by M-B rivals Audi and BMW.  It’s roomy and relatively inexpensive, seating four comfortably for just $40,000 to start. And unlike the outgoing GLK it doesn’t look like a large, smirking cat that’s been planed into angularity. Bonus.

But it’s still a compacti-ish crossover, which means two things. Anonymity and an interesting shape. In a week of driving around Los Angeles, the city where you are what you drive, I felt like a real estate agent from Burbank on a scouting mission rather than the uniquely glamorous bitch I actually am. Practical as these vehicles are, their elegance quotient is null. I don’t need a Roller or a Bentley, either; give me a C-Class sedan with the upright three-pointed star hood ornament and I’m happy. Or—and this speaks to my second point—give me a C-Class wagon, which is more economical, classier, better looking, and just as practical. But we don’t get them here because we’re too busy happily gorging ourselves to death on bland crossovers.

If an alleged luxury vehicle is mistaken for a Kia, or made to feel less special than it should because of its flavorless shape, it’s not doing its job. As a compulsive worker, I have nothing but disdain for cars that don’t do their job.