2015 Mercedes-Benz GLC First Drive Review

Handsome C-Class based SUV finally makes it to Oz with plenty of standard spec and decent performance right out of the box.

Mercedes GLC Driving Front Jpg

So, what is it?

It’s the Mercedes-Benz GLC, a crossover SUV based on the rather excellent C-Class. It looks a lot like the estate version of the C-Class, but it’s actually its own beast. Australia hasn’t seen a Q5/X3-sized Merc SUV before – the last version, the GLK, wasn’t offered in right-hook.

Why should I care?

It’s hard to see how the GLC won’t be a success in Australia; SUV sales continue to skyrocket at the expense of almost everything else, while Mercedes-Benz has the added advantage of having the Midas touch at the moment. Take C-Class, for example. It’s selling about 900 a month, second only to the Toyota Camry in the medium sector, and far and away the premium sector leader. Its A-Class range, too, is killing it across three categories, while the rest of the range kicks long-range goals of its own.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Front

What’s new about it?

Well… everything. For Australia, at least. Merc has actually had skin in the game with something called the GLK, but seeing as it was never made in left hand drive, it never made it to Australia, the UK, Japan or any other markets that drive on the correct side of the road.

Needless to say, it wasn't about to make the same mistake twice with the second-generation version, now known under Merc’s new nomenclature as the GLC. It’s based on the excellent and popular C-Class platform, and looks a little bit like a wagon that's hit the gym.

That’s all fine, what’s it like to drive fast?

‘Fast’ will need to wait for the 450 Sport and the GLC 63, both of which will lob in the next 18 months or so. At launch, the GLC comes with two flavours of diesel and a petrol; Both versions of the 2.1-litre turbo-diesel four are quiet and refined, though the 125kW/400Nm 220d version needs to work a little harder to move the 1845kg GLC than the 150kW/500Nm 205d. The 250 petrol is quieter again, and while not up to the diesels for torque at 350Nm, its 155kW has to push around 110kg less.

The petrol is brisk, and the bigger 250 diesel is torquey, but ‘fast’? Not quite yet.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Driving Rear

And driving home from the city?

Excellent, as you’d expect. All three use Merc’s new nine-speed transmission, which won’t be as useful in speed-limited Australia. The GLC is also fitted with Merc’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system that divides drive with a 45/55 per cent split between the front and rear wheels.

Our testing circuit was too short to get an idea of how close the fuel figures were (5.5 litres per 100 kilometres for the diesels and 7.1L/100km for the petrol) but all three variants showed numbers that were close to the claimed figures.

The five-mode drive select toggle is best left in comfort mode, though the first of the two sport modes is also acceptable. The dampers firm up a bit much in sport plus, while the self-shifter hangs onto its gears longer than is strictly necessary. The GLC’s electric steering also artificially firms up in sport mode, but not overly so.

Mercedes-Benz GLC Top Side Driving

Anything bad about it?

There’s a fair bit of wind noise from around the side mirrors as speeds exceed 110km/h on German autobahns, but cabin ambience is otherwise good. Visibility out the front is excellent, though the high bonnet and bluff nose makes judging front distances a little tough.

How much would I have to pay? And is it worth it?

The entry point to the line-up, the GLC220d, will cost $64,500 plus on-road costs, followed by the 250 petrol at $67,900 and rounded off by the 250d at $69,990. It sits in just above Audi’s entry-level Q5 diesel, which sells for $62,600, and just below BMW’s 2.0 XDrive20d at $64,700. The five-door Range Rover Evoque Pure AWD diesel, meanwhile, is $53,395.

The fight between these three will be epic, but the Merc – at first blush, at least – has the edge in styling.

Would you take the GLC or the BMW X3?

Personally, the GLC’s beefier presence floats my boat than the quite conservative X3, and the donor C-Class chassis is better than the 3-Series underpinning the X3. Dollar-wise, there’s very little in it.

Click here to find out more about the Mercedes-Benz GLC.


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