Our colleagues from auto motor und sport have driven the new Mercedes GLC for the first time and we present their driving impressions.
Mercedes has sold 2.6 million GLK and GLC models since 2008. Although Mercedes’ focus is on electromobility, the development of a new generation GLC is a crucial moment as this is one of the best-selling models in the Mercedes range in recent years. For now, the new generation, codenamed X254, is available with mild hybrid petrol and diesel engines and two petrol PHEV versions. With an engine range that includes traditional versions, the new Mercedes GLC is not intended to be a radical model but one that aims to please a broad mass of customers.
Like the old generation, the new GLC impresses with its ride comfort. With the air suspension present on the test car, the GLC floats silently over most bumps. With the optional acoustically insulated windows, the new Mercedes GLC is extremely quiet. The 9-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly and quickly and harmonises perfectly with the GLC 220 d’s 2-litre diesel engine, which delivers vigorous torque between 1800 and 4000 rpm. Although the diesel engine is refined, it can’t completely hide its working principle but the noise level is no more disturbing than petrol engines which are even more audible at high loads. Petrol engines are also a little slower below 2500 rpm. Although they have higher maximum output, they don’t offer the same confidence due to the maximum torque available at higher revs and the higher noise at higher revs.
Three mild hybrids and two PHEV at start
The Mercedes GLC debuts with two mild hybrid petrol engines GLC 200 (204 hp) and GLC 300 (258 hp) and a diesel GLC 220 d (197 hp). A few days ago, orders for the two Plug-In Hybrid petrol engines GLC 300 e (313 hp) and GLC 400 e (381 hp) also started. In December, the top diesel with 269 hp will follow and next spring the Plug-In Hybrid diesel with 335 hp.
All PHEV versions have a 31.2 kWh battery located under the boot floor which provides exceptional electric ranges of between 112 and 130 km according to WLTP and the possibility of charging at DC fast charging stations with up to 60 kW.
The new generation is 60 mm longer and weighs around 150 kg more depending on the version. Therefore, the extra power and torque are welcome and help if you want to tow a caravan (towable load of 2500 kg for diesel, 2000 kg for PHEV and 2400 kg for petrol). Also, the new trailer steering system is linked to the navigation system which, depending on the size and weight of the trailer, takes into account slopes and bends radius when planning the route.
Agile steering and practical off-road package
The new Mercedes GLC comes with variable steering assist that is relaxed around the centre position but becomes more direct from a 45 degree steering angle. Optional integral steering that rotates the rear wheels at a 4.5-degree angle in the opposite or the same direction as the front wheels depending on speed reduces the steering diameter by 0.9 metres to 10.9 metres. In Sport mode, the air suspension greatly reduces body roll and together with the dynamic steering ensures agile handling even though the ESP system is tuned for safety first and foremost rather than for accentuated dynamics.
An off-road package offers 20 mm more ground clearance and additional underguard protection. The Mercedes GLC is not a true off-roader because it has no lockable differentials or reductor, but the off-road mode of the ESP system gives good grip on rough roads. The air suspension raises the ground clearance by up to 50 mm and when going downhill there is an assist system to keep the speed constant. A new feature is the 360-degree camera that can see under the car. It’s a system similar to Land Rover’s where the driver can see under the car but also the position of the front wheels.
Good ergonomics but quality of materials suffers in some areas
The seats offer vigorous lateral support and the dashboard is familiar from the C-Class including the quality of materials which is not worthy of a premium model in all areas. In the Mercedes GLC hard plastic surrounds the steering column and large surfaces on the door faces. There is also a noticeable gap between the centre armrest upholstery and the plastic trim underneath. Instead, the interior space is generous and the multimedia system with its generously sized portrait screen allows easy operation thanks to the well-structured menus.
The boot volume is 70 litres larger, the rear backrest can be split into three segments and folding the backrest creates a perfectly flat surface with a generous compartment underneath. In PHEV versions, boot volume drops to 460 litres because the floor is mounted higher up due to the battery placed above the rear axle.
Higher prices but better standard equipment
The new GLC 220 d starts at 60,238 euro, almost 11,000 euro more than the previous generation. A small consolation is that the standard equipment which was quite sparse is now more complete with MBUX multimedia system with navigation, digital instrument cluster, Comfort seats, LED headlights, electrically operated tailgate but the assistance systems package is still optional as well as the air suspension or the integral steering.