Lux­ury SUV shake-up

Benz soft-roader comes fully loaded, piling the pres­sure on its high-end ri­vals

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News - JOSHUA DOWL­ING NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDITOR joshua.dowl­

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

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