Land Rover Discovery Sport Vs Mercedes-Benz GLC 300

Mike Schlee
by Mike Schlee

The Discovery Sport and GLC 300 are both new, yet familiar.

Introduced this year year, the Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 and Land Rover Discovery Sport may not be household names yet, but the concept behind both compact luxury crossovers is familiar. That’s because they aren’t really all new models, but rather new-generation replacements for each brands’ existing compact crossovers.

Taking over for the long-in-the-tooth LR2 is a familiar name with a new twist. The Discovery Sport is a smaller vehicle than the Discovery, but still promises to deliver impressive off-road capabilities. With 8.3-inches of ground clearance, it can crawl over taller objects than pretty much every compact luxury crossover on the market, including the GLC. And, yes, the GLC is the new moniker given to C-Class based, compact Mercedes-Benz crossover, replacing the GLK.

Similar Powertrains, Different Executions

Power for both vehicles comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired up to a nine-speed automatic transmission that can send power to all four wheels. The Discovery Sport pumps out 240 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, while the GLC 300 raises the stakes, offering 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque.

As similar as these setups may sound, the Land Rover is a front-wheel-drive based, with a transversely mounted engine setup while the Mercedes-Benz utilizes a rear-wheel-drive longitudinal engine layout. This may not mean much to a lot of people, but in execution, it makes all the difference.

As I’ve found in a lot of transversely mounted engines paired to nine-speed automatics, the transmission in the Discovery Sport isn’t great. It jerks hard into gear, transitions between gears can be less than smooth and sometimes, it takes a few moments to find the proper gear.

In contrast, the nine-speed in the GLC is one of the best nine-speeds on the market. It’s well suited for the vehicle and transitions between gears smoothly and near seamlessly.

Power and Efficiency

And it’s more than just being a smooth operator where the GLC’s transmission pays dividends. Despite the Mercedes weighing about 50 pounds more, it’s still quicker to 60 mph, needing just 6.4 seconds, compared to the Discovery Sport’s 7.8 second acceleration time.

SEE ALSO: Land Rover Discovery Sport Review

The Mercedes-Benz also delivers better real world fuel economy. During our testing, the GLC 300 averaged 22.8 mpg while the Discovery Sport could only muster 19.1 mpg. As a final tour de force, the GLC offers the quieter, more isolated cabin of the two.

Two Different Approaches to Ride and Handling

The two approaches to how the Discovery Sport and GLC 300 behave on and off-road directly reflect each manufacturer’s legacy and reputation. The Land Rover handles, rides and drives more like a traditional SUV even if it is a modern crossover. It’s set up to handle moderate off-road duties and features the usual multiple drive modes.

The downside to this go-anywhere ability is that the Discovery Sport’s ride is a bit choppy and missing some of the smooth refinement found in the GLC 300. The Mercedes-Benz’s ride is more comfortable and all the controls operate in a fluid, refined way. Handling is decent for a compact luxury crossover as well. The GLC may be missing the Discovery Sport’s selectable off-road modes, but it does offer customizable drive modes to balance sport and comfort to the driver’s liking.

Compare Specs

Land Rover Discovery Sport
Mercedes-Benz GLC 300
Vehicle Land Rover Discovery Sport Advantage Mercedes-Benz GLC 300
Engine 2.0 L Turbocharged Four-Cylinder - 2.0 L Turbocharged Four-Cylinder
Horsepower 240 HP - 241 HP
Torque 250 lb-ft. GLC 273 lb-ft.
Transmission Nine-Speed Automatic - Nine-Speed Automatic
Weight 3,957 lbs. Dsicovery 4,001 lbs.
Rear Legroom 37.3-inches - 37.3-inches
Cargo Space Seats Up 32.0 cubic feet Discovery 19.4 cubic feet
Fuel Economy (US) 20 MPG city, 26 MPG hwy GLC 21 MPG city, 28 MPG hwy
Fuel Economy (CDN) 11.9 L/100 km city, 9.0 L/100 km hwy GLC 11.1 L/100 km city, 8.3 L/100 km hwy
Observed Fuel Economy 19.1 MPG GLC 22.8 MPG
Starting Price(US) $38,450 Discovery $41,875
Starting Price(CDN) $43,365 Discovery $47,045
As Tested Price(US) $53,508 Discovery $58,230
As Tested Price(CDN) $58,115 Discovery $64,375

The View Inside

Anyone who has been inside the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class will instantly recognize the GLC 300’s interior. Finished in high quality materials with a cohesive design, it has a higher feeling of luxury compared to the Discovery Sport.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 4Matic Review

The interior in the Disco does feature style of its own, but it doesn’t look as modern as the GLC’s and some of the switch gear looks tired and randomly placed. The infotainment system is also a bit laggy, although it may hold a usability edge over the Mercedes.

The Cargo and Passenger Edge

Despite the GLC 300 being over two and a half inches longer in overall length, the Discovery Sport trumps it by offering a third row of seats. The two seats in the back are very tight and only meant for children, but they’re nice to have in an emergency.

Passengers in the traditional rear seats will probably prefer the Discovery Sport as well. Legroom may be identical, but the headroom in the Discovery is more ample and the one piece panoramic sunroof makes it feel more airy. The arm rests are also better placed in the Land Rover.

Cargo capacity with the third row seat folded favors the Discovery Sport once more, but the advantage isn’t as big as the numbers suggest.

The Verdict: Land Rover Discovery Sport vs Mercedes-Benz GLC 300

As tested, both of these vehicles become a bit pricey. The Discovery Sport HSE Lux clocks in at $53,508 as tested while the GLC 300 4Matic came in at $58,230.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC 300 is a more substantial, higher quality, better bolted together vehicle as a whole. But is it worth its $5,000 premium? In the world of compact luxury crossovers, the answer is yes.

Mike Schlee
Mike Schlee

A 20+ year industry veteran, Mike rejoins the AutoGuide team as the Managing Editor. He started his career at a young age working at dealerships, car rentals, and used car advertisers. He then found his true passion, automotive writing. After contributing to multiple websites for several years, he spent the next six years working at the head office of an automotive OEM, before returning back to the field he loves. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC), and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA). He's the recipient of a feature writing of the year award and multiple video of the year awards.

More by Mike Schlee

Join the conversation
  • Roger Roger on May 03, 2016

    GLC's interior is lightyears ahead of the LR's. I agree, the $5000 difference in price won't be much of a consideration for the target market.

  • EdZ EdZ on May 23, 2016

    Anyone have a ground clearance spec for the GLC when equipped with Air-Body Control and Off-Road-Engineering (avail on 2017) in maximum settings?