Mercedes’ GLC 220d forfeits a bit of dynamics for luxury. Not a bad compromise. Most Merc buyers are here for that anyway.
We looked forward to our first bite of one of the most sought-after cars in Mercedes-Benz’s South African portfolio. They tell us that this new GLC is the most dynamic model in its luxury lifestyle SUV family. Is that really true?
Well, a week with this GLC 220d was barely enough to get to know it well enough, but it was ample to form an opinion? This diesel model is not sold in the US, but it’s still a staple across the pond, but you can get a gas GLC 300 in the ‘States, so the rest is still relevant. We never noticed a huge styling step forward over the old one in pictures. But you certainly see the difference in the flesh. New GLC codename X254 is still a classy evolution. Those optional Digital Light headlamps connect across its signature grille to emphasize its width.
We’d normally go on to describe the rest of the look at this point but wait a minute. Those optional Digital Light headlamps are worth a special mention. Using precise and dynamic revolutionary latest generation headlamp technology, they deliver targeted high-resolution light distribution according to local conditions.
Long Nose GLC 220d Now Better Balanced,
These are without doubt the best headlamps we have ever driven with. Not only did they remind me of my old rallying days running a full dark set-up that covered the front of my car with a gang of huge lamps, but they can also remain on full bean and not dazzle other drivers. We’ve seen this active headlight tech for a number of years, but it was always a bit flawed. This latest generation is next level. It really works!
Getting back to those looks, New GLC’s slippery 0.29Cd drag coefficient, wide track, and this one’s flush, big and bold wheels and a better balanced, longer nose contribute to a typically Mercedes pure design. 60 mm longer and 4 mm lower, and just as wide as before, GLC rides on 6 mm wider front and 23 mm broader rear tracks. A longer wheelbase brings more interior room, and a bigger, auto shutting boot.
That styling class and purity spreads to GLC’s sturdier and tangibly better built cabin. The brown-toned open-pored and black wood veneered space even has real aluminum LED ambient lit inlays. Merc’s latest spec multifunction steering wheel frames 12.3-inch ‘floating’ driver’s instrumentation on a wing-like dash featuring aircraft style vents under a neat uninterrupted new optional panoramic sunroof.
Loads of Tech. But Does It Pop?
One thing the New GLC has, is loads of tech. A significant 11.9-inch high-resolution My-Mercedes LCD cartainment screen dominates the dash. It has all the necessary connectivity, smartphone integration and wireless charging too. Pity it’s all let down by those horrid touch buttons that carmakers seem to have embraced without any forethought or consideration how that actually work.
They don’t work. These sloppy, cumbersome, and poorly thought out cartainment solutions ruin so many great cars these days. Why change from old school buttons and knobs, the Lord only knows. Sadly, GLC is now another to fall into that category. Also, an abundance of tech is great. But it can become overwhelming. For example, augmented reality navigation is cool, but it gives guidance too late. That makes it less effective than simple lines on a map.
The 217 HP 325 lb.-ft GLC 220 d 4Matic is a 48V mild hybrid 2-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel. It’s less powerful, but torquier than the US market GLC 300 4Matic, which costs ten percent more in our local market than the gas 300, which sells for $41,900 in the US. Like the 300, this 200d also has an integrated starter-generator to enable gliding, boost or recuperation functions that operate almost invisibly as the e-motor smoothly and intelligently transitions with the combustion engine to ensure a fine balance between the two. Good for a claimed 8 seconds 0-60 mph and 135 mph, Benz tells us that GLC 220 d sips 47 mpg.
GLC 220d is More Composed Than Dynamic
New four-link front, and multi-link rear independent suspension has amplitude-dependent selective damping with speed-dependent, and electro-mechanical direct rack-and-pinion steering. Suspension is mounted in subframes for best ride and noise comfort, without compromising dynamics. Ours also had the optional Engineering package with level control Airmatic air suspension and rear-axle steering. Braking is courtesy of vented discs with an electric parking brake.
A more intuitive latest generation Driving Assistance package Plus adds Active Steering and Distance Assist Distronic. GLC also gains better dirt manners thanks to a new off-road driving mode with downhill speed regulation and a transparent bonnet assistant in the central display.
Our brief time with it was enough to show New GLC’s great ride quality off. It is comfortable, yet still provides good feedback from the road. More luxurious than dynamic however, the brakes are also a bit spongy. As we have come to expect from Mercedes, the GLC 220d was both quicker and more economical than claimed. We managed closer to 50 mpg, rather them mid and the numbers below speak for themselves.
Decent on Dirt. Luxurious on Tarmac
Decent enough on the dirt, one needs to turn the nannies off to get the best out of it, as they interfere a bit too much. It’s also a little too wallowy for our liking off the beaten track, but it is overall more than capable to venture off the tarmac from time to time. Super smooth, luxurious, and comfortable on the bitumen, this car is one of those built for comfort, rather than rushing about like a maniac. So, to claim it’s that dynamic, may be a bit too much of a boast.
The new GLC however brings new levels of digitalization to an efficient package to deliver a welcome shot of excitement and novelty to a hugely popular Mercedes-Benz sport ute. True, but as JD Power says of most modern cars today, its cartainment can be confusing, complex, and occasionally tricky to use. One thing that certainly is next level, are those headlamps. Make sure to tick that option box on yours, no matter how much it adds to the price.
Bold & Luxurious. What Merc Owners Want
Bold and luxurious, this new Mercedes GLC certainly is. They also say that this one is dynamic. In reality however, this car forfeits a bit of that for supreme ride and feel. Not a bad compromise. Most Merc buyers are here for that luxury anyway.
ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d 4Matic Avantgarde
Engine: 217 HP 325 lb.-ft 2-litre turbodiesel I4 mild hybrid
Drive: 9-speed automatic AWD
0-40 mph: 3.35 sec
0-60 mph: 7.71 sec
0-100 mph: 19.23 sec
¼-mile: 15.4 sec @ 91 mph
50-75 mph: 5.33 sec
75-100 mph: 8.66 sec
VMax: 135 mph
Fuel: 47 mpg
Range: 730 miles