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Does the Mercedes GLC have Air Suspension?

The Mercedes-Benz GLC has become a highly popular luxury SUV choice for Canadian drivers since its introduction in 2015 as a replacement for the GLK-Class. According to sales data from Good Car Bad Car, the GLC consistently ranks among the top-selling Mercedes models in Canada year after year. Its blend of style, performance, and premium amenities has made it a hit with buyers seeking a refined mid-size SUV.


One of the key features available on the GLC is air suspension, an advanced system that utilizes air bellows instead of traditional coil springs. Air suspension works by using an air compressor to pump air into flexible bellows, adjusting the amount of air to raise or lower the vehicle’s ride height. This not only improves ride comfort by smoothing out bumps, but also allows for increased ground clearance when needed for off-road driving or steep driveways.

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What is Air Suspension?

Air suspension is an advanced automotive suspension system that utilizes air bags or air springs instead of conventional steel springs. These air bags are connected to a compressor and a supply of compressed air, allowing the system to adjust the vehicle’s ride height and firmness on the fly.

The basic principle behind air suspension is simple: compressed air is pumped into the air bags, which act as load-bearing cushions between the vehicle’s body and wheels. By increasing or decreasing the air pressure within the bags, the system can raise or lower the vehicle’s ride height and alter the suspension firmness to suit different driving conditions or personal preferences.

There are two main types of air suspension systems: single-path and dual-path. Single-path systems use a single air line to inflate and deflate all four air bags simultaneously, while dual-path systems have separate air lines for the front and rear axles, allowing for independent adjustment of each axle’s ride height.

Air suspension systems offer several advantages over traditional coil or leaf spring setups, including improved ride quality, adjustable ride height for better ground clearance or aerodynamics, and the ability to maintain a level ride regardless of the vehicle’s load. However, they also tend to be more complex and expensive to maintain, as the air compressor, air lines, and air bags are all additional components that can potentially fail over time.

 

Air Suspension Options on the Mercedes GLC

The Mercedes-Benz GLC offers two main suspension options: a standard steel spring suspension and an optional air suspension system. The air suspension, known as AIR BODY CONTROL or AIRMATIC (depending on the model year), provides adjustable ride height and damping characteristics.

The standard steel spring suspension is a conventional coil spring setup that delivers a comfortable yet controlled ride. However, the optional air suspension takes things to the next level by using air bladders instead of coils to support the vehicle’s weight. This allows the GLC to automatically adjust its ride height based on driving conditions and driver preferences.

For the Canadian market, Mercedes offers the AIR BODY CONTROL air suspension as an option on most GLC trims, including the GLC 300, GLC 300 4MATIC, and the AMG GLC 43/63 models. The exact availability may vary by model year and configuration. According to GLC Forums, the air suspension upgrade typically costs around $1,900 CAD when ordered from the factory.

It’s worth noting that the AIR BODY CONTROL system is a more advanced version of Mercedes’ previous AIRMATIC air suspension. It offers additional features like a curve-tilting function and improved responsiveness. The system can also raise or lower the vehicle’s ride height by up to 2 inches, depending on the driving mode selected.

 

Benefits of GLC Air Suspension

One of the primary advantages of opting for the air suspension on the Mercedes-Benz GLC is the improved ride comfort and adjustability it provides. As explained by the experts at MB Ontario, the AIRMATIC system actively adjusts the air spring levels to counteract body roll and maintain a level, composed ride over varying terrain. This allows for a plush, isolated driving experience on the highway while still providing confident handling when pushing the GLC’s limits.

The ability to raise and lower the vehicle’s ride height is another key benefit of the air suspension. At higher speeds, the system can automatically lower the GLC for improved aerodynamics and stability. When venturing off the beaten path, the increased ground clearance afforded by the raised setting enhances off-road capability significantly. This adjustability also comes in handy when loading cargo or navigating steep driveways and parking ramps.

On rougher roads and surfaces, the air suspension’s responsive damping works to soak up impacts and undulations with ease. This not only improves comfort for passengers but also helps protect the GLC’s chassis and components from excessive wear and tear. The consistent level of body control provided by the air springs results in surefooted handling that inspires confidence, even when pushing the limits of the GLC’s performance envelope.

 

Potential Downsides of GLC Air Suspension

While the air suspension system on the Mercedes GLC offers several benefits, it also comes with some potential drawbacks that prospective buyers should be aware of:

Added Cost: Air suspension is typically an optional upgrade, which can significantly increase the purchase price of the GLC. According to Mercedes-Benz Canada’s website, the AIR BODY CONTROL air suspension system costs an additional $1,900 on the GLC 300 and GLC 300 4MATIC models.

More Expensive Maintenance and Repairs: Air suspension systems are more complex than traditional coil spring suspensions, which can lead to higher maintenance costs over time. Components like air struts, compressors, and sensors may need to be replaced periodically, and repairs can be costly. According to the Vigor Air Ride blog, common issues with the GLC’s air suspension include uneven ride height and compressor failures.

Potential Reliability Issues: While Mercedes-Benz is known for its engineering quality, air suspension systems can be prone to leaks and other issues over time. Some owners have reported problems with the GLC’s air suspension, such as sagging or the system failing entirely. The MBWorld forums have threads discussing rear air ride issues on the GLC 43 AMG model.

Reduced Cargo Space: The air suspension system’s components, including the compressor and air tanks, can take up valuable cargo space in the GLC’s trunk or under the vehicle. This can be a drawback for those who frequently need to transport large or bulky items.

 

GLC Air Suspension Reviews

Expert reviews from both Canadian and international sources offer valuable insights into the performance of the Mercedes GLC’s air suspension system. Many reviewers praise the adjustability and versatility it provides, allowing drivers to tailor the ride height and firmness to suit their preferences or driving conditions.

In terms of ride quality, most agree that the air suspension delivers a smooth and comfortable experience, effectively absorbing bumps and imperfections in the road. As noted in a thread on MBWorld.org, “The air suspension makes a huge difference in ride quality, especially on rough roads or when carrying heavy loads.”

Handling is also generally lauded, with reviewers appreciating the improved stability and control afforded by the air suspension, particularly at higher speeds or when navigating tight corners. On GLCForums.com, one owner remarked, “The air suspension really helps the GLC feel planted and composed, even when pushing it hard.”

The ability to raise or lower the ride height is consistently highlighted as a major advantage, enhancing off-road capability while also making it easier to load and unload cargo. Many experts recommend opting for the air suspension upgrade, citing its versatility and overall positive impact on the driving experience.

 

Considerations for Canadian Drivers

When it comes to the value proposition of air suspension on the Mercedes GLC for Canadian drivers, there are several factors to consider. One of the primary benefits is the adjustability of the ride height, which can be invaluable on Canada’s diverse and often rough road conditions. According to Car and Driver, air suspension systems allow for raising or lowering the vehicle’s ride height, providing better ground clearance for tackling unpaved roads or lowering the center of gravity for improved handling and stability.

This adjustability can be particularly advantageous in regions with harsh winters and poorly maintained roads. The ability to raise the GLC’s ride height can help navigate through deep snow or over rough terrain, while lowering it can improve aerodynamics and handling on smooth highways.

However, the added comfort and adjustability come at a cost – both in terms of the initial purchase price and ongoing maintenance expenses. Air suspension systems are generally more complex and expensive to repair than traditional coil spring setups. Canadian drivers will need to weigh the potential repair costs against the benefits of improved ride quality and adjustability.

Another consideration is the impact on resale value. While air suspension may be a desirable feature for some buyers, it could also be seen as a potential maintenance headache by others. This could potentially affect the GLC’s resale value, particularly if the air suspension system has experienced any issues or requires costly repairs.

 

Air Suspension Maintenance and Costs

While the air suspension system on the Mercedes-Benz GLC provides superior ride quality and handling, it does require more maintenance compared to a traditional coil spring suspension. Common issues that can arise include air leaks, failed air compressors, and damaged air lines or air struts. According to discussions on enthusiast forums like MBWorld.org, these repairs can be quite costly for GLC owners.

For example, one owner on the GLC Forums reported having to replace suspension bushings at only 38,000 miles, with Mercedes covering 75% of the £1,100 ($1,800 CAD) repair cost as a goodwill gesture. On Reddit, an owner mentioned that a Service A maintenance visit for a GLE 450 can cost around $750 CAD, which gives an idea of the maintenance costs GLC owners could face as well.

In addition to these potential repair bills, the air suspension system requires more frequent checks and adjustments compared to a conventional suspension setup. Mercedes recommends having the system inspected as part of the vehicle’s regular maintenance schedule to catch any issues early on before they turn into larger, more expensive problems down the road.

 

Alternatives to Air Suspension

While air suspension offers several benefits for the Mercedes GLC, it’s not the only suspension technology available. One alternative is adaptive dampers, which use computer-controlled valves to adjust the firmness of the shocks in real-time based on driving conditions and driver inputs. This allows for a balance between ride comfort and handling performance. Examples include Mercedes’ AIRMATIC adaptive damping system and BMW’s Adaptive M Suspension.

Another common suspension type is traditional coil springs, which are simpler and generally more affordable than air suspension. Coil springs offer a compromise between ride quality and cost, but lack the adjustability and off-road capabilities of air suspension. Some luxury SUVs like the Porsche Cayenne use steel coil springs with adaptive dampers for a sportier driving experience.

The pros of air suspension include improved comfort, adjustable ride height, and better off-road capability. However, the cons are higher cost, potential reliability issues, and more expensive maintenance compared to coil springs or adaptive dampers. For drivers who don’t need the extra adjustability or ground clearance, traditional suspension setups may be a more cost-effective choice.

 

GLC Air Suspension vs Competitors

When it comes to luxury compact SUVs with air suspension, the Mercedes-Benz GLC faces stiff competition from rivals like the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. According to a Reddit discussion on comparing these models, some buyers found the Q5 with air suspension to be the most comfortable option after test driving all three.

However, the GLC’s air suspension system, particularly the more advanced Air Body Control, offers a wider range of adjustability and off-road capabilities that may appeal to certain buyers. Reviews suggest the GLC’s air suspension provides a smoother ride and better handling than the standard steel spring setup, especially on rough roads and in varying driving conditions.

In terms of value, the GLC’s air suspension is typically a pricey option, adding several thousand dollars to the purchase price. This puts it at a disadvantage compared to the Q5, which offers air suspension as standard on higher trims. The X3, on the other hand, does not offer air suspension at all, relying solely on a conventional suspension setup across its lineup.

Ultimately, the decision between the GLC’s air suspension and its competitors comes down to prioritizing ride comfort, adjustability, and off-road capability over potential cost savings. For buyers who value these features and plan to keep their vehicle for an extended period, the GLC’s air suspension could be a worthwhile investment, despite the higher upfront costs.

 

Should You Get Air Suspension on Your GLC?

Whether or not you should opt for the air suspension on your Mercedes GLC depends on several factors and your specific needs as a driver. Air suspension offers undeniable benefits in terms of ride comfort, handling, and adjustability, but it also comes with added costs and potential reliability concerns.

If you prioritize a smooth, luxurious ride and value the ability to adjust the vehicle’s height for different driving conditions or loading situations, air suspension may be worth the investment. It can be particularly beneficial for those who frequently drive on rough or unpaved roads, or for those who need to navigate steep driveways or parking areas. The improved off-road capability provided by the adjustable ground clearance is also a consideration for adventurous drivers.

However, if you’re on a tight budget or plan to keep your GLC for an extended period, the higher initial cost and potential long-term maintenance expenses associated with air suspension may not be justifiable. It’s also worth noting that while air suspension can enhance ride quality, some drivers may prefer the more direct and connected feel of a traditional suspension setup, especially for spirited driving.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on your driving habits, priorities, and willingness to invest in the added convenience and capabilities offered by air suspension. Reviews from trusted sources like MBWorld.org Forums and GLC Forums can provide valuable insights from real-world GLC owners to help you make an informed choice.

 

Off-Road Performance with Air Suspension

One of the key advantages of equipping the Mercedes-Benz GLC with air suspension is the enhanced off-road capability it provides. The adjustable ride height allows drivers to increase the ground clearance, making it easier to navigate over rough terrain, deep ruts, or obstacles without fear of bottoming out or damaging the underbody.

According to discussions on the GLC Forums, the air suspension system can raise the vehicle’s ride height by up to 3.6 inches (92mm) when switched to the highest off-road setting. This increased ground clearance, combined with the GLC’s 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, provides better approach and departure angles, allowing the SUV to tackle steeper inclines and declines without scraping the front or rear bumpers.

The air suspension’s self-leveling capability also aids in maintaining optimal traction and stability when traversing uneven terrain or towing a trailer. As demonstrated in this YouTube video, the air suspension can compensate for the added weight of a trailer or cargo, preventing the GLC from squatting or diving excessively, which could otherwise compromise handling and control.

Furthermore, the air suspension’s ability to adjust the ride height independently at each wheel allows for improved articulation, enabling the GLC to keep more wheels on the ground when navigating obstacles or uneven surfaces. This increased articulation translates to better traction and a more stable, controlled off-road experience.

 

Impact on Ride Quality and Handling

The air suspension system on the Mercedes-Benz GLC has a significant impact on ride quality and handling dynamics. According to discussions on enthusiast forums like MBWorld.org and GLCForums.com, owners have reported a noticeable improvement in ride comfort with the air suspension equipped.

The ability to adjust the ride height and firmness of the air springs allows the GLC to soak up bumps and imperfections in the road surface with greater composure. This results in a smoother, more compliant ride quality, especially over rougher terrain or less than ideal road conditions. The air suspension also helps to minimize body roll and pitch when cornering or under heavy acceleration and braking.

However, some owners have noted that the air suspension can make the ride feel slightly floaty or disconnected from the road at times, particularly at higher speeds. Additionally, there is a potential trade-off in terms of handling sharpness and responsiveness compared to the conventional steel spring suspension setup.

Overall, the consensus among reviewers and owners is that the air suspension strikes a good balance between ride comfort and handling dynamics. While it may not offer the outright sharpness of a performance-oriented steel spring setup, the air suspension provides a more refined and composed driving experience, particularly for those who prioritize ride quality over outright sportiness.

 

Air Suspension Technology Evolution

Air suspension systems have been around for decades, with their origins dating back to the early 20th century. However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that they started gaining traction in the automotive industry, primarily for luxury and commercial vehicles. Early air suspension systems were relatively basic, using air-filled bellows to supplement or replace traditional coil springs.

Over the years, air suspension technology has undergone significant advancements, driven by the pursuit of improved ride quality, handling, and versatility. Modern air suspension systems are highly sophisticated, featuring computer-controlled air compressors, height sensors, and advanced damping systems. These advancements have made air suspension a popular option in luxury SUVs, offering a combination of comfort, adjustability, and off-road capability.

One of the latest innovations in air suspension technology is the integration of predictive systems that can anticipate road conditions and adjust the suspension accordingly. Some luxury SUVs now feature cameras and sensors that scan the road ahead, allowing the suspension to proactively adapt to upcoming bumps or dips, resulting in an even smoother ride. Additionally, the advent of electrified powertrains has opened up new possibilities for air suspension systems, with the potential for regenerative energy capture and improved efficiency.

Looking ahead, the future of air suspension technology is likely to be shaped by advancements in materials, electronics, and software. Lighter and more durable air bellows, coupled with more efficient compressors and advanced control algorithms, could further enhance the performance and efficiency of air suspension systems. Additionally, the increasing adoption of autonomous driving technologies may lead to new innovations in air suspension, as vehicles adapt to different driving modes and scenarios.

As luxury SUVs continue to prioritize comfort, versatility, and performance, air suspension systems are poised to play a crucial role in meeting the evolving demands of discerning consumers. With a rich history and a promising future, air suspension technology is set to remain a key differentiator in the luxury SUV market.

 

Conclusion

Air suspension on the Mercedes-Benz GLC offers a range of benefits and drawbacks that Canadian buyers should carefully consider. On the plus side, it provides enhanced ride comfort, improved handling, adjustable vehicle height for different driving conditions, and increased off-road capability. These advantages make air suspension an appealing upgrade, especially for those who frequently encounter rough terrain or inclement weather.

However, the downsides of air suspension cannot be ignored. It adds a significant cost to the purchase price, requires more expensive maintenance and repairs, and may be prone to reliability issues over time. Additionally, the air compressor takes up valuable cargo space, which could be a concern for some buyers. According to reviews from GLC enthusiast forums, the air suspension is generally praised for its ride quality and adjustability, but some owners have experienced issues with leaks and costly repairs.

Ultimately, whether air suspension is a worthwhile upgrade for Canadian GLC buyers depends on individual priorities and driving needs. For those who prioritize comfort, handling, and adjustability over cost and cargo space, the air suspension could be a valuable investment. However, for buyers on a tighter budget or those who primarily use their GLC for urban commuting, the standard suspension may be a more practical choice.

When deciding, it’s crucial to test drive both suspension options and carefully weigh the pros and cons. Additionally, factoring in the long-term maintenance costs and potential reliability issues is essential. By considering these factors, Canadian GLC buyers can make an informed decision that aligns with their specific requirements and preferences.

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Questions About Mercedes GLC Air Suspension

Air suspension is a state-of-the-art automotive suspension system that employs flexible air bags or air springs in place of the more traditional steel springs. These air bags are integral components connected to an air compressor and a reservoir of compressed air, enabling the system to dynamically adjust the vehicle’s ride height and firmness. By modulating the air pressure within the bags, the system can adeptly raise or lower the vehicle’s stance and modify the suspension’s firmness to accommodate a variety of driving conditions or to align with the driver’s personal preferences.

The primary benefits of selecting air suspension for the Mercedes-Benz GLC encompass a marked improvement in ride comfort, the convenience of adjustable ride height, augmented off-road capability, and superior handling and stability. The air suspension is adept at smoothing out road irregularities and bumps, while simultaneously providing the option to increase ground clearance for off-road excursions or when dealing with steep driveways. Furthermore, the system’s ability to adjust the ride height contributes to enhanced aerodynamics at elevated speeds and ensures a more balanced, stable ride when the vehicle is laden with heavy cargo or is towing.

The GLC’s sophisticated air suspension system, branded as AIR BODY CONTROL or AIRMATIC, replaces traditional coil springs with air bladders to bear the vehicle’s weight. These bladders are linked to an air compressor and a compressed air source, granting the system the flexibility to modify ride height and firmness by regulating the air pressure. The system is capable of adjusting the vehicle’s ride height by as much as 2 inches, contingent on the selected driving mode, and it can also tailor the damping characteristics to enhance ride quality and handling.

In the Canadian market, Mercedes-Benz provides the AIR BODY CONTROL air suspension as an optional feature on a majority of GLC models, including the GLC 300, GLC 300 4MATIC, and the high-performance AMG GLC 43/63 variants. While availability may differ based on the model year and specific configuration, air suspension is generally offered as an optional extra, representing an additional investment over the standard steel spring suspension setup.

Discussions on various GLC enthusiast forums suggest that the air suspension upgrade is priced at approximately $1,900 CAD when specified on a new vehicle from the factory. This price point can fluctuate depending on the chosen model and trim level, but it is indicative of a substantial premium over the base suspension option.

Despite the numerous advantages of air suspension, there are potential drawbacks to be mindful of. These include the higher initial cost of the system, increased maintenance and repair expenses relative to traditional coil springs, the possibility of reliability concerns such as air leaks or compressor malfunctions, and a slight reduction in cargo space due to the space occupied by the air suspension apparatus. Additionally, some vehicle owners have reported experiencing a somewhat detached or overly buoyant ride quality at highway speeds.

In comparison to its competitors, such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, the GLC’s air suspension system stands out with its broader scope of adjustability and superior off-road prowess. The Audi Q5, for instance, includes air suspension as a standard feature on its upper-tier trims, whereas the BMW X3 does not offer an air suspension option. When evaluating value, the GLC’s air suspension is generally considered a costly add-on, which can significantly increase the vehicle’s overall purchase price.

For Canadian motorists who regularly face challenging terrain, unpaved roads, or adverse weather conditions, the GLC’s air suspension, with its adjustable ride height and improved off-road capabilities, can prove to be an invaluable feature. However, the additional expense and potential for higher maintenance costs may not be justifiable for those with limited budgets or for drivers who predominantly navigate urban environments. The decision to opt for air suspension should be based on individual driving requirements and priorities.

The GLC’s air suspension system’s ability to adjust the ride height can significantly bolster off-road performance. Engaging the highest off-road setting allows the system to elevate the vehicle by up to 3.6 inches (92mm), which improves approach and departure angles and provides greater clearance for tackling rough terrain or obstacles. The system’s self-leveling feature also plays a crucial role in maintaining consistent traction and stability across uneven landscapes or when the vehicle is towing.

Reviews and feedback from GLC owners generally affirm that the air suspension enhances both ride quality and handling dynamics. The system’s capacity to fine-tune the ride height and stiffness of the air springs enables the GLC to absorb road imperfections with poise, yielding a smoother and more refined driving experience. Nonetheless, it is worth noting that some owners have observed that the air suspension can occasionally impart a somewhat disconnected or floaty sensation, particularly at cruising speeds.

Air suspension systems have a long history, yet contemporary iterations are highly advanced, incorporating computer-controlled air compressors, precision height sensors, and sophisticated damping mechanisms. Recent technological advancements have led to the development of predictive systems capable of foreseeing road conditions and preemptively adjusting the suspension settings, as well as the potential integration of regenerative energy systems that enhance efficiency, particularly in hybrid and electric vehicles. As the luxury SUV segment continues to emphasize comfort, adaptability, and driving performance, air suspension technology is expected to maintain its status as a significant market differentiator.

Among the alternatives to air suspension, adaptive dampers stand out, utilizing computer-controlled valves to instantaneously modify shock absorber firmness, and traditional coil springs, which strike a balance between ride comfort and affordability but lack the versatility and off-road capabilities inherent to air suspension systems.

Generally, air suspension systems are more intricate and costly to maintain and repair when compared to conventional coil spring suspensions. Issues such as air leaks, compressor failures, and damage to air lines or struts are not uncommon. GLC enthusiast forums provide anecdotal evidence that these repairs can be expensive, with some owners reporting maintenance bills that reach into the thousands of dollars.

When contemplating the addition of air suspension to your Mercedes GLC, it is important to take into account your typical driving patterns, what you prioritize in a vehicle, and your readiness to invest in the enhanced comfort and functionality that air suspension provides. It is advisable to test drive models with both types of suspension to directly compare them and to thoroughly consider the pros and cons, including the implications for long-term maintenance costs and the potential for reliability issues. Furthermore, consulting reviews and owner experiences from reputable sources such as GLC enthusiast forums can offer valuable perspectives from those with firsthand experience.

Although retrofitting air suspension to a GLC initially outfitted with a conventional coil spring suspension is technically feasible, it is generally discouraged due to the high complexity and associated costs. Opting for air suspension as a factory-installed option when purchasing a new GLC is usually more straightforward and cost-effective.

The durability of the air suspension system on the Mercedes GLC is influenced by a variety of factors, including the conditions in which the vehicle is driven, adherence to maintenance schedules, and the general use of the vehicle. With appropriate care and regular maintenance, the air suspension components have the potential to endure for many years, possibly for the entire lifespan of the vehicle. However, it is not uncommon for some owners to encounter premature failures of specific components such as air struts or compressors, which can necessitate expensive repairs.

Indeed, the GLC’s air suspension system is designed to allow manual adjustments to the ride height via the vehicle’s infotainment interface or through a dedicated control button or switch. This feature enables drivers to adapt the vehicle’s ground clearance to suit varying driving scenarios or to accommodate different loading conditions.

While the air suspension system itself is not a direct factor in fuel efficiency, its capability to modify the vehicle’s ride height can indirectly influence it. At highway speeds, the system can reduce the vehicle’s height to enhance aerodynamics and decrease wind resistance, which may lead to modest improvements in fuel economy. However, the additional mass and complexity of the air suspension components could potentially negate some of these efficiency benefits.

Yes, the GLC’s air suspension system offers customization options that allow drivers to tailor the vehicle’s suspension settings to their preferences. Through the infotainment system, drivers can select different modes that adjust the suspension’s firmness and ride height, providing a personalized driving experience that can be optimized for comfort, handling, or off-road capability.

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