Mercedes-Benz has a new star.
It’s the all-new Mercedes-Benz GLC range, which, within a month of its launch, has become the star seller in the Benz line up.
The allure of the three-pointed star, plus car-like driving dynamics, solid styling, a luxuriously spacious cabin, loads of driver assist, infotainment and safety technologies and a starting price of $64,500 has seen buyers flock to Benz showrooms.
And after spending time with the entry-level GLC 220d 4Matic , diesel and mid-range GLC 250 4Matic petrol models, it’s easy to see the attraction.
At a glance, the GLC looks a bit like the bigger M-class, but its all-new design features a lower roofline and a more angled windscreen that accentuates its long bonnet. The other giveaway is its short tail. Dominating the front is a big three-pointed star on the grille and dominating the sides are the beautifully crafted alloy wheels, side steps and subtle chrome edgings around the windows and on the door handles.
Inside, it’s very luxurious, well equipped, surprisingly roomy and oozes quality. It’s the attention to detail that make a difference, like the rear centre armrest with its storage cubby and two cup holders, the hi-vis vests that come with the puncture repair kit and the owner’s manual built into the infotainment system.
As it shares its basics with the C-class, the dash, seats and doors are familiar, likewise the driving position, only slightly elevated. Through the cabin are soft touch surfaces and the column mounted gear shifter that unclutters the large console. Pride of place on the dash is the 7-inch Command infotainment screen and its cache of menus for the Bluetooth music and phone connectivity, sat nav, a 360-degree camera and vehicle settings. All are easily operated by a touch pad control in the centre console.
The electrically adjustable, artico trimmed front seats are very comfortable and supportive with long adjustment range in all directions. The 40/20/40 split rear seat easily matches the ones up front for comfort and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of leg and head room I had in both rows. Behind the second row is a decent sized luggage area of 508 litres, that’s accessed by a power operated tailgate.
Such is the level of standard fare in the GLC 220d it is hard to think of it as the entry model. It features 19” alloy wheels, 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive, Keyless start, start/stop function, powered tailgate, LED lights, Daylights, Garmin satnav, touchpad, electric front seats, and a 360 degree camera, that makes maneuvering in a tight spot so helpful.
The $64,500 entry model GLC220d has a 2.1 litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel with 125kW/400Nm. The only petrol engine sits in the mid-range $67,900 GLC250, its 2.0 litre four-cylinder engine belts out 155kW/350Nm, propelling it to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds. The top spec $69,900 GLC250d shares the same engine as the entry model but it has been given a power boost to produce 150kW/500Nm. All three feature a nine-speed auto and 4Matic permanent all-wheel-drive.
At start up there is the recognisable diesel sound, but once underway it’s almost silent. One drive took me through several mountain ranges near my home and the reserves of low down torque made climbing hills and overtaking a breeze, the nine-speed auto ensuring I was always in the right gear.
I shuffled my way through the five drive modes; Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual. Eco is simply too sluggish and though I spent most journeys in ‘Comfort’ mode, a flick to Sport and Sport+ livened up the steering, gear changes, throttle and firmed up its four-link front and five-link rear suspension, for a more engaging drive.
Switching to the petrol powered GLC250 4Matic, it immediately felt sportier with its bigger 20-inch wheels and low profile tyres. This time the dark grey interior gave way to a cream fit out, which made it feel brighter and airier inside. On several occasions I had to look around to remind myself I wasn’t actually pedalling a C-class passenger car but a mid-size SUV, so impressive are the GLC’s dynamics. Scooting around on favourite roads was a joy, with the GLC 250 providing a cushioning ride and its wide track giving it a solid planted and balanced feel. Apart from some tyre roar on coarse bitumen roads, the GLC 250 is whisper quiet.
With all the talk on autonomous driving these days, I deliberately used the DISCTRONIC PLUS adaptive cruise control with steer assist as often as I could. At all times it kept me a safe distance from the cars in front and within my lane on the freeway. It also worked pretty well up a mountain road, accelerating to the pre-set speed I’d selected, braking before into corners and steering through them by itself. It was weird and fascinating at the same time.
Being a Benz, it’s at the forefront of safety technology and features 9 Airbags, Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Pre-Safe, Blind Spot Assist, ABS brakes, Traction and Stability control.
The GLC 250 models (petrol & diesel) get even more safety kit including the previously mentioned DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist, PRE-SAFE®Brake and PRE-SAFE® PLUS, BAS PLUS with Cross Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC is a real alternative to the C-class wagon for buyers wanting more space, versatility and permanent all-wheel-drive capability, without forfeiting the drive experience or seating position.
That each model is more affordable than their equivalent wagon cousins is just icing on an already very sweet cake.
To me the only issue facing Mercedes with its GLC range is keeping up with demand.