The C-Class saloon has spawned the GLC, a rugged animal that’s happy to roam both the city and the countryside.
THE Mercedes marque has been missing from the mid-size SUV segment, but has now filled the void with the debut of the GLC. Based on the current C-Class, the newcomer replaces the GLK, the company’s best-selling sports utility vehicle that was never made available with right-hand-drive. The sweeping lines of the GLC contrast against the boxy “mini GL” styling of the GLK. Most stylish when on 20-inch alloy wheels, the GLC looks purposeful from every angle. Its coeffi cient of drag is 0.31. From the rear, the car’s muscular shoulders and gentling sloping roofline make it look squat and lower than the BMW X3, its main rival. The rear LED lamps are trim and do not occupy much real estate at the back.
The C in GLC stands for classy, comfy and C-Class, whose dashboard and platform were cleverly repurposed for this model.
The cabin is a very nice place to be, with its top-drawer materials that feel expensive to the touch. The sweeping design theme of the exterior extends to the dashboard and flows into the centre console, punctuated by the centrally positioned Comand media display. The driving position perceived via the sporty three-spoke steering wheel is car-like, rather than truck-like. A large expanse of glass around the cabin off ers good all-round visibility. The backseat has plenty of space and enough legroom for passengers over 1.8m tall.
The GLC’s boot space is classcompetitive, with a capacity of 550 litres. The rear seat folds in 40-20-40 sections, and when all are completely flattened, cargo capacity is bumped up to 1600 litres. These figures, incidentally, are the same as those of the BMW X3 and slightly better than those of the Audi Q5. For a start, Mercedes-Benz is off ering the GLC as the 220d and 250d (170bhp or 204bhp from a 2.1-litre turbo-diesel engine), and the 250 (211bhp 2-litre petrol engine).
All three 4-cylinder engines are mated to the company’s 4Matic permanent all-wheeldrive and 9-speed 9G-Tronic automatic gearbox. Reduced fuel consumption and lower CO2 exhaust emissions are claimed for every GLC model vis-à-vis the defunct GLK. Our test car in Europe is the GLC250. Its power delivery is smooth and refined, an impression reinforced by the well-insulated cabin. The 350Nm of torque is there for the taking from 1200rpm to 4000rpm. Acceleration from nought to 100km/h takes 7.3 seconds while driving all four wheels in a 45:55 front-rear split. The right-handdrive version, however, requires the power split to be changed to 31:69.
Despite its relatively tall stance, the GLC drives very much like a hatchback, with body roll well under control except in the tightest hairpins. The standard Dynamic Select handling system off ers five programs: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual – the last for personal configurations to set the engine, transmission and steering responses as well as the suspension settings. The ride in the Comfort setting is comfortable indeed and well-damped, too.
I tried a GLC with the optional Off road Engineering package and Air Body Control air suspension, which can raise the suspension by up to 50mm. I came away impressed from the off -road test route, which included steep inclines, descents and sideways slopes. Arriving in Singapore in the first quarter of next year, the GLC is expected to steal sales away from BMW’s X3 and Audi’s Q5 in the fast-growing SUV market.