Luxury SUV shake-up
Benz soft-roader comes fully loaded, piling the pressure on its high-end rivals
ANOTHER week, another new SUV.
Mercedes-Benz has announced pricing for its upcoming medium-sized soft-roader, which is poised to join a booming market.
Sales of medium-sized SUVs across all makes and models below $40,000 are up 11 per cent, but richer brands are up by more than triple that: 34 per cent year-on-year, largely driven by low interest rates and a rush of new metal.
More buyers than ever are craving a commanding view of the road ahead. The other driving force — new levels of fuel-efficiency — means there is now barely a penalty for driving a modern SUV.
At this rate there is every chance the new medium-sized Mercedes GLC will be the brand’s second-biggest seller behind the C Class sedan on which it’s based.
Indeed, the GLC is so miserly with fuel that at least two of the models don’t even attract Luxury Car Tax, which has an exemption for fuelefficient models.
LCT doesn’t kick in on cars that sip less than 7.0L/100km until they pass the $75,375 mark. The LCT threshold for everything else is $63,184, at which point every dollar after that is slugged with a 33 per cent tax.
Unlike other SUVs which command a substantial price premium, it appears Mercedes has resisted the urge to go for the gouge, with the RRPs within a whisker of the cost of the respective C Class sedan models.
Starting at $64,500 with diesel power, the new GLC is $200 less than the similarlysized BMW X3 diesel and $900 more than the starting price for an Audi Q5 diesel.
However, the Mercedes is loaded to the hilt, with thousands of dollars worth of extra equipment that’s either not standard or not yet available on its German peers.
There will initially be three models when the new GLC arrives in Australian showrooms in December: two diesel variants split by a petrol option in the middle of the price walk-up.
The 2.1-litre turbo diesel 220d with the low-output engine (125kW/400Nm) is $64,500, the 250d with the high-output version of the same engine (150kW/500Nm) tops the range at $69,900, while the 250 petrol (powered by a 2.0litre turbo with 155kW and 350Nm) splits the difference at $67,900 plus on-road costs.
Standard fare across all models includes a nine-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel-drive, nine airbags, automatic emergency braking, a 360-degree view camera, LED headlights and tail lights and blind-spot monitors, as well as the usual mod cons.
The GLC 250 petrol also comes with radar cruise control, lane-keeping steering, and rear cross traffic alert, among other luxuries.
Eventually, a high-powered AMG version using the same twin turbo 4.0-litre V8 from the C63 AMG sports sedan will join the line-up, but that’s not due on sale for about two years.
In the second half of 2016 the stepping stone to that model will arrive: the GLC 450 AMG powered by a twin turbo 3.0litre V6. It’s expected to cost about $110,000.
Mercedes-Benz will also need to eventually introduce an cheaper petrol model, but that’s not expected until the midlife update in three or so years.
Both BMW and Audi have cut-price petrol powered models that start their ranges from $61,100 and $62,600 respectively — Mercedes is yet to confirm if it will add a price leader to the GLC line-up.
Packed with goodies: The new GLC has thousands of dollars worth of extra equipment