MERCEDES GETS COM­PACT WITH SUV

Ger­man car firm fi­nally en­ters UK mar­ket with Glc-class ready to take fight to audi and BMW

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - MERCEDES-BENZ GLC FIRST DRIVE ANDY EN­RIGHT

IT seems strange to think that un­til the launch of this GLC- Class model, Mercedes had never of­fered a proper com­pact SUV. Or at least it’d never of­fered one in the UK. On the con­ti­nent, the Stuttgart brand has al­ways taken on cars like Audi’s Q5 and BMW’S X3 with its GLK- Class model, but this was never en­gi­neered to be pro­duced in right hand drive. Big mis­take.

It’s taken a long time for the Three-pointed Star to cor­rect that er­ror, but now that it has, this GLC-Class model can take its place in the com­pany’s grow­ing SUV line-up. It gets two fru­gal diesel en­gines and, un­like the smaller A- Class-based GLA Cross­over model, is mainly of­fered with four wheel drive. In other words, it’s a proper SUV model.

Driv­ing Ex­pe­ri­ence

How the GLC gets down the road is heav­ily de­pen­dent on what boxes you tick when you’re or­der­ing. In to­tal, there are three dis­tinct sus­pen­sion op­tions avail­able, with stan­dard cars get­ting a nor­mal com­fort-ori­en­tated steel coil spring set-up. If you want some­thing more dy­namic, there’s a sports sus­pen­sion op­tion, while for those pri­ori­tis­ing an ul­ti­mately ab­sorbent ride, air sus­pen­sion can also be added at ex­tra cost.

The lat­ter op­tion is the most de­sir­able. ‘AIR BODY CON­TROL’, as Mercedes call it, prom­ises a cos­set­ing ride when you want lux­ury or flat, sportscar-like han­dling when you’re in a hurry. With an op­tional ‘Off Road En­gi­neer­ing Pack­age’, you can even man­u­ally ad­just ride heights through the in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem.

Un­der the bon­net, the buy­ing fo­cus

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is on the 2.1-litre diesel units used in the GLC 220d and GLC 250d mod­els. The dif­fer­ences be­tween th­ese two vari­ants are down to en­gine tune, with the 220d of­fer­ing 170PS and the 250d churn­ing out 204PS. The 0-62mph times are 8.3 and 7.6 sec­onds re­spec­tively.

Mercedes has also de­vel­oped a plug-in hy­brid ver­sion, the GLC 350e, which adds a 116PS elec­tric mo­tor and a bat­tery pack to a 2.0 litre turbo petrol unit. The suc­cess of Mit­subishi’s sim­i­larly-con­fig­ured Out­lander PHEV plug-in hy­brid model sug­gests that there’ll be a strong UK ap­petite for that kind of car.

At launch, all mod­els were equipped with 4MATIC 4WD, but you can also ask your dealer about the avail­abil­ity of a more af­ford­able rear wheel drive ver­sion too. What­ever your choice of vari­ant, drive will be sup­plied through a stan­dard 9-speed au­to­matic gear­box.

De­sign and Build

First impressions are that the GLC is most def­i­nitely re­lated to the C- Class com­pact ex­ec­u­tive model it’s based upon. There’s the same long nose and gen­tly slop­ing roofline we’ve come to recog­nise, along with sim­i­lar con­tour­ing down the flanks. Nat­u­rally the GLC is more up­right and comes with sub­tle plas­tic wheel-arch ex­ten­sions and skid­plate-style de­tail­ing around the bumpers to show its off road cre­den­tials. Over­all, it’s a far cry from the boxy old GLK- Class model this car re­placed in Europe — and all the bet­ter for it.

Un­der­neath the skin, Mercedes have used more alu­minium and high strength steel to help re­move weight wher­ever pos­si­ble. Those C- Class un­der­pin­nings have been length­ened to im­prove in­te­rior space and make sure that en­try for rear pas­sen­gers is easy.

Once you do climb in­side, you’re greeted by a dash­board that’s smoothly co-or­di­nated in ev­ery way save for the rather un­usual po­si­tion­ing of the in­fo­tain­ment screen. As stan­dard with Merc-brand mod­els, that’s perched on top of the fas­cia.

As usual, there’s a wide range of op­tions to make your GLC look either sporty or very lux­u­ri­ous, both in­side and out. Go to town in the cabin and it re­ally will feel lux­u­ri­ous. Boot space is up to 580-litres seats up — nearly 100-litres more than the C- Class — while seats down, this be­comes a cav­ernous 1600-litres.

Mar­ket and Model

Prices sit mainly in the £35,000 to £40,000 bracket and as a GLC buyer, your first choice will be to de­cide if you need the ex­tra power the pok­ier 250d model of­fers over the base 220d vari­ant. As there’s no econ­omy penalty in choos­ing the faster car and only a £1,000 price dif­fer­ence, the 250d would be our pick. Next there’s a choice of ‘SE’ (around £35,000), ‘Sport’ (circa £37,500) and ‘AMG Line’ ( just un­der £40,000) trim lev­els to con­sider as per­haps you seek to slowly ramp up the ag­gres­sion and equip­ment lev­els of your GLC. Over­all, ex­pect this Mercedes to cost a slight premium over its Audi Q5 and BMW X3 di­rect ri­vals.

All GLCS re­ceive a 9-speed au­to­matic gear­box, four wheel drive, the ‘CO­MAND’ in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem, ‘DY­NAMIC SE­LECT’ han­dling con­trol with ad­justable dampers, plus all the usual niceties you’d ex­pect from a Mercedes of this price. Safety-wise, there’s a full ros­ter of elec­tronic shields that scan the road ahead and pre­vent you from hav­ing an ac­ci­dent.

Things like the ‘COL­LI­SON PREVEN­TION PLUS’ sys­tem, plus the ‘Cross­wind As­sist’ set-up and the ‘AT­TEN­TION AS­SIST’ sys­tem. Op­tional is the ‘DISTRONIC PLUS’ radar cruise con­trol sys­tem – with ‘STEER­ING AS­SIST’ to keep you in lane and a ‘Stop & Go’ fea­ture that’ll slow the car au­to­mat­i­cally and start it off again if you come across a mo­tor­way tail­back.

Cost of Own­er­ship

This GLC has to be com­pet­i­tive when it comes to run­ning costs — and is. The run­ning costs of GLC 220d and 250d mod­els are iden­ti­cal. De­pend­ing on the trim level you’ve picked, one of th­ese will kick out be­tween 129 and 143g/km of CO2, while re­turn­ing 56.5mpg on the com­bined cy­cle. This makes this Mercedes slightly cleaner and more eco­nom­i­cal than a ri­val Audi Q5 2.0 TDI.

If you’re af­ter bet­ter fig­ures than that, the 350e plug-in hy­brid only chugs out 60g/km and can be driven up to 21 miles on elec­tric­ity alone. If most of your trips are short and you can charge it, then fea­si­bly you won’t have to run the en­gine for a great deal of time at all.

There’s plenty of po­ten­tial fuel sav­ings there. All GLCS come with a 3 year war­ranty and should hold onto their value well. That’s pro­vided you don’t go com­pletely mad on the added op­tions list of

course.

Sum­mary

Im­age is every­thing when it comes to premium com­pact SUVS and on that ba­sis, the GLC is a very de­sir­able pack­age. In terms of styling, tech­nol­ogy and ef­fi­ciency, it bor­rows hugely from other Mercedes mod­els — to very good ef­fect.

Plus op­tions like air sus­pen­sion of­fer the kind of lux­ury that used to be lim­ited to much larger lux­ury SUVS, en­abling this car to cross ravines one minute and carve through a set of bends at speed the next.

Some may feel that there are still more dy­namic choices to make in this seg­ment: the trendier-look­ing Range Rover Evoque for ex­am­ple. Or the more sharply-han­dling BMW X3. As an all-rounder though, com­bin­ing many of the qual­i­ties you’ll find in both those cars, the GLC is a tempt­ing pack­age. It’s ar­rived late to the party, but it’s come well equipped to make a few waves.

Driver bling: there are plenty of op­tions to make the in­te­rior lux­u­ri­ous

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