The family perks of living with a Merc
Once again it has been a premium life for Campbell Spray who is impressed by the nimble, yet quiet, Mercedes GLC
Living, as I do, the very unreal life of a motoring correspondent two days a week when the bike is put away and the desk job is over, I am allowed to pompously judge the merits of cars that will never be owned at Spray Towers.
Last week it was a stunningly attractive Lexus (while Geraldine Herbert, my colleague on the page, was swanning around in a stretched version of the BMW Seven Series). Now I present to you a car from Mercedes-Benz. This marque, which was the most sought after in the country for years before being taken on by so many premium rivals, has been going through a renaissance recently. And it needed to. Much of the company's line-up was being left behind in the race to be the car of choice in both the corporate and private car-parks. Reliability became a problem as did a rather out-dated image.
However, all that is fast-changing and Mercedes is the brand that has most changed in recent years. It has produced a massive line-up of new and revised models - many of the latter, because of emissions-based VRT, cheaper than the outgoing cars - which are definitely younger, cooler and more appealing.
That I find them often more difficult to get into is probably just what the design engineers at Stuttgart wanted. Push the old farts out and get the sleeker, more flexible generation in.
Yet when I'm not ducking my head, complaining of cramps or hoisting myself up out of some low-slung number I am struck at just how good Mercedes-Benz is now. There is always a real feeling of quality about the cars, a quiet confidence that exudes prestige. I am also finding that many models are at - almost - attainable prices.
One of their newest models is the GLC, a mid-range crossover (Gawd, how I hate that term!) which stands bigger, more confident and far better built than most of its rivals. It also boasts 4WD as standard, which was a bonus for us as we could happily face the snows in the Dublin mountains at the beginning of the year.
I'm sorry that most people will go for the 2.0-litre diesel as this is a car which could easily double as the family/school car without doing the massive miles diesels need to do to make them worthwhile. There is space galore and the GLC stands on the impressive C-Class frame but with a longer wheelbase.
The test car had the nine-speed automatic box which made life very easy. The GLC fills a "void" in the Mercedes model range, says sales manager Ciaran Allen, and he believes it will appeal to both men and women.
He is probably right and it is a far more practical proposition than the smaller GLA and the rather large and aggressive GLE. It handles very nimbly and won't frighten anyone, although it can give a fair turn of speed when needed.
The GLC was amazingly quiet for both a diesel and 4WD SUV. It seems that the company has gone out of its way to minimise noise.
There are some things that let it down but they are very minor like the absence of a touchscreen but I'm sure that will be fixed very soon.
The car I was driving had the AMG trim and came in at €53,700 and its road tax is only €270. If you are a family person, have come into funds and want some real premium motoring, the Mercedes-Benz GLE must be considered.
The new car market has gone up more than 28pc in the first three months of the year compared to last year and, with 9,204 cars sold, Toyota has pipped Hyundai (with 8,799 sales) for the number one slot.
However it is the Korean marque's new Tucson which is the outright top-seller with 4,305 new units hitting the road this year, compared to the Volkswagen Golf in second slot with 3,066 sold.
Hyundai will be very pleased with its position having never attained anything above fourth before.