Mes­merised by a Mercedes

On a fish­ing trip to Wales, Charles Ran­ge­ley-wil­son is so im­pressed with the German mar­que’s au­to­matic diesel GLC es­tate car that he can’t find any fault with it

Country Life Every Week - - In The Driving Seat -

THIS re­view could be five words long—‘i re­ally liked this car’. You could go on that and buy one and you’d al­most cer­tainly re­ally like this car, too. Peo­ple would ask you ‘How’s that new car of yours?’ and you’d say ‘Yeah. I re­ally like it.’ They’d look for more and shrug ex­pec­tantly. Em­bar­rassed, you might add ‘it’s great’. There’s a level of com­pe­tence that sti­fles com­ment and the Mercedes GLC is at it.

I think back to the car I took on a long trip to Wales, the 550-litre (120-gal­lon) boot crammed with fish­ing rods, and try to re­call some pro­found com­men­tary on the steer­ing (fine), or the brakes (ex­cel­lent) and I strug­gle. It was all so very good. I re­ally liked it, in fact.

Which only makes me won­der why Mercedes took so long to build it. Early this year, I was on a mo­tor­way some­where and this car I’d never seen be­fore came bowl­ing past: now that’s a foxy SUV, I thought. Mercedes has been turn­ing out some eye-catch­ing ma­chines lately. There’s some­thing about the fam­ily look: the raised ra­di­a­tor grille, the air- hun­gry front end, the li­po­suc­tioned flanks and gym-bunny wheel arches that re­ally works in a slightly edgy, gangsta kind of way. And all of this had trans­lated bril­liantly to what­ever had just over­taken me. A sort of X3-, Q5-sized Mercedes that I had never seen be­fore be­cause Mercedes had never built it be­fore.

This gi­ant seg­ment of the mar­ket for a mid-sized 4x4 had been com­pletely un­ad­dressed in the UK. Over in Europe, they’d had the GLK, but some­thing about its trans­mis­sion sys­tem could not eas­ily trans­late into plac­ing the steer­ing wheel on the cor­rect side of the car and so the K was never avail­able here. Which was just as well re­ally, be­cause the GLK was a much less happy styling ex­er­cise. Like a bread van onto which a child had stuck ce­real pack­ets, it was boxy more than foxy.

As it is, Mercedes has pretty much nailed it from the kick-off with the GLC. If the ex­te­rior is a happy ex­er­cise in pimp­ing the best styling cues from the rest of the range, the in­te­rior is an ef­fort­less air­lift straight from the C-class—which is no bad thing. It’s all very sleek and black with curvy edges and there’s a pleas­ing, al­most retro edge to the moder­nity: the air vents, for ex­am­ple, have some­thing of the Flash Gor­don about them. Not so retro, the mul­ti­me­dia touch­screen is of ipad di­men­sions and, tested with no ref­er­ence to the in­struc­tions, it proved to be ipad in­tu­itive, too.

Over­all, you have a cos­seted and ef­fort­less pi­lot­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Pas­sen­gers will also like it. There’s easy seat­ing for two tall adults in the back. The seats pop flat with the flick of a but­ton and split 40, 20, 40, which is both un­usual and use­ful, es­pe­cially for fish­er­men.

There’s plenty of smooth oomph from a grunty but non-in­tru­sive four-pot diesel—i much pre­fer six-cylin­der diesels, but this one had me wa­ver­ing. When pushed, it was sportily loud, but never rau­cous or strained. The nine­speed auto box no doubt helped in that re­gard, but the mar­riage is a happy one. It zips through the ra­tios and was al­ways in the cor­rect one and 70mph on the mo­tor­way is a barely-above-idle 1,500rpm.

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