Wednesday 29 March 2017

Mercedes all-new GLC- 'It looks like the party might be over for the big two in the luxury SUV league'

Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1, Selenite Grey, AMG Line, Exterior
Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1, Selenite Grey, AMG Line, Exterior

Philip Hedderman

MERCEDES has taken a leaf out of Audi’s sales book, and it came straight from the chapter entitled “Never give the customer an excuse to buy elsewhere”.

The all-new GLC is a timely replacement for the GLK, which was never sold in right-hand drive.

The Q5 and BMW X3 rival nestles between the smaller GLA and the larger GLE and brings a refreshing alternative to the mid-sized luxury SUV segment.

Merc’s German cousins need to be worried as the new arrival mixes its rugged good looks, luxurious interior and premium feel with genuine off-road capability.

Based on the latest C-Class platform but with a longer wheelbase, it combines the drive dynamic of a sporty saloon with the elevated ride and bulk of a proper 4X4.

It’s a magnificent-looking bus too, with a striking bonnet that curves around the signature LED headlights and chrome grille dominated by the giant three-pointed star.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1, Selenite Grey, AMG Line, Exterior
Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1, Selenite Grey, AMG Line, Exterior
Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1, Selenite Grey, AMG Line
Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1, Selenite Grey, AMG Line
Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1, Selenite Grey, AMG Line

Aluminium-style skid plates front and rear and flared wheel arches give it an indestructible feel, while the ever-so-sloping roofline adds that smidgen of sleekness.

Inside, that sporty modern theme continues with wall-to-wall leather complemented by chrome inserts (we love the triple air vents in the centre) and piano black finish.

It’s loaded with technology too, and the vast range of internet based apps can be accessed through the iPad-like centre console controlled by the swipe-sensitive mouse next to the arm rest.

The pinch and zoom function on the sat nav is really impressive, as are the crystal-clear graphics.

There’s oceans of space in the cabin too, with generous leg and head room all round and plenty of storage with large door bins and cubby holes peppered about.

Be warned, though – the rear middle seat is compromised by the large transmission tunnel which incorporates the 4WD drive system.

Boot-wise, the GLC can accommodate a decent 550 litres of luggage which expands to 1,600 with the 40/20/40 seats folded flat.

Irish motorists will favour two diesel models, both equipped with nine-speed automatic transmission and 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive as standard. Powered by the same 2.1-litre, the 220d generates 170bhp while the 250d is packing a meatier 204bhp. Both reside in Band B1, meaning €270-a-year road tax.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1, Selenite Grey, AMG Line
Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1, Selenite Grey, AMG Line
Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1, Selenite Grey, AMG Line, Exterior
Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1, Selenite Grey, AMG Line
Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e 4MATIC EDITION 1, Selenite Grey, AMG Line

Available in three trims – Standard, Exclusive and AMG – the GLC comes with €6,000 worth of standard kit including Exclusive exterior pack, Artico leather, cruise control, heated front seats, active parking assist and full intelligent light system.

We drove the lower-powered 220d 4Matic which has more than enough grunt to do everyday stuff. In fact, it proved the perfect companion on long motorway jaunts and was exceptionally composed on boreens.

It really came into its own on twisty, winding roads and proved an absolute joy through some of the roughest terrain around the Mournes last weekend.

It’s easy on the wallet, sipping fuel and returning almost 60mpg (5.0-litres/100kms). The only gripe was we had to reset the drive select to Eco at the beginning of every journey as it automatically defaulted to Comfort.

Still, we covered more than 1,100kms on test, and as the week wore on the GLC allure grew.

On paper it appears more expensive than its rivals, but when you factor in extras such as auto and AWD, the €50,200 price tag is not so severe.

It looks like the party might be over for the big two in the luxury SUV league.

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