07 Jun 2016 | 12.29 pm
Roadtest: Mercedes GLC
This SUV is not afraid of getting its feet wet
07 Jun 2016 | 12.29 pm
Mercedes blends a premium feel with robust design in its GLC SUV, writes Olive Keogh
In 2012 Mercedes launched the largest product offensive in its history. It promised 30 new models by 2018, of which 13 have no predecesors. The GLC is one of these newcomers and its job is to challenge competing mid-sized SUVs, including the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.
Strictly speaking, the GLC had a predecessor in the shape of the GLK. However, the GLK was never sold in right-hand drive markets and the two have little in common. The GLC sits between the GLA and the GLE in the roll-call of new Mercedes-Benz SUVs.
Prices for the GLC kick off at €50,280 for the 220d. This buys a comfortable and spacious interior, with good head and shoulder room, great bootspace and refined driving and handling. The cabin has the requisite premium feel and this is matched by robust build quality and close attention to supressing noise and vibration – both key points of differentiation between volume and premium cars.
The GLC is based on the same platform as the new Mercedes C-Class, albeit with a longer wheelbase. This accomplished lineage is reflected in its on-road performance, where the driving experience is less SUV and more saloon car, despite the extra height.
That said, the GLC is not afraid of getting its feet wet. It comes with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive as standard, while its excellent ground clearance emphasises that its off-road capabilities are for use, not for show. Making life as comfortable as possible regardless of the terrain are air suspension, agility control and dynamic select handling.
Among the GLC’s many virtues is the fact that it works on a number of levels. It’s at home off-road, it rides like a luxury saloon car and it’s practical family transport, not least because it has a 550-litre boot with the back seats in use. With the seats folded, the storage area extends to a roomy 1,600 litres and the loading sill is at a comfortable height.
Getting into the detail, the GLC comes with two diesel engine options, the GLC220d (170bhp) and the GLC 250d with 204bhp. There is also a petrol option and a plug-in hybrid. Nine-speed automatic transmission is standard on 220d, 250d and 250 models.
There’s an extensive range of design and equipment options to tease the budget. The test car had iridium metallic paint at €1,470 and a Night Pack at €943. An AMG style line is also on offer. The standard equipment list includes leatherette upholstery, heated front seats, air con, Bluetooth with audio streaming and a large capacity fuel tank – a big help on holidays abroad involving long motorway journeys.
Competition between the three German luxury brands has never been more intense, and with sales in traditional segments declining, they all need a full range of compacts, SUVS and crossovers (where sales are growing) to compensate. The checkerboard of segments and body styles is almost complete, but with Mercedes expecting its new models to increase its sales by a third, it’s not hard to see why the trio will keep going until every niche is filled.
Model: Mercedes-Benz GLC 4Matic AMG line
Engine: 220d (2143cc)
Safety: 4WD, attention assist, brake assist, collision prevention assist, active park assist, multiple airbags, ISOFIX child seat points
Price: €56,113 with options
Fuel consumption: 5.5-5.0L per 100km
Verdict: Practical luxury