Mid-sized SUVs and crossovers have been all the rage over the past decade or so. While many manufacturers already have two to three SUV models lined up in their showrooms, the rest of the horde is slowly, but surely making their way towards the bandwagon.
Even the most unlikely of manufacturers have begun producing SUVs, or at the very least, have introduced concepts and announced that there are intentions to produce SUVs in the future – such as Bentley with the hideous Bentayga, Rolls-Royce with the Cullinan, Maserati and the Levante, Lamborghini with the Urus, as well as Lotus with their yet-to-be-named crossover which is due in 2018.
What about Ferrari?
“You’ll have to shoot me first,” said Chairman Sergio Marchionne.
And for a brand that has always been present alongside BMW and Audi in a never-ending battle for supremacy, Mercedes-Benz has been rather late to react successfully to the aforementioned phenomenon.
Yes, there was the GLK but it was a flop compared to the BMW X3 and Q5 globally, as it was only available as a left-hand drive model and couldn’t be made in right-hand drive configuration for some godforsaken technical reason involving the drive shaft.
So, in an effort to make a comeback into the premium mid-sized SUV segment and to give the X3 and the Q5 a good run for their money globally, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the handsome vehicle you’re looking at now – the GLC.
Engine: 2.0-litre, inline-4, turbocharged, petrol
Power: 211hp at 5,500 rpm
Torque: 350Nm from 1,200 to 4,000rpm
Transmission: 9-speed automatic G-Tronic with torque converter
Safety: Nine airbags, Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Crosswind Assist, Attention Assist, Active Parking Assistant, Distronic Plus active cruise-control system, Steering Assist
Origin: Fully imported from Germany
The GLC 250 is a premium compact SUV which competes against the BMW X3 xDrive20i (RM325,800) and the Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI Quattro (RM324,900). Available only in one variant, the GLC 250 sold here is actually offered with a full AMG Line kit that comprises sporty bumpers, a sporty looking skid plate, as well as massive 20-inch alloy wheels.
Unlike the C-Class, S-Class, and the E-Class that are being assembled locally, the GLC, which is the brand’s smallest longitudinal-engine SUV at the moment, is being fully imported from Germany. However, the brand did announce that it has intentions of assembling the GLC locally in the future.
Built based on the C-Class sedan, the GLC 250 stands at 4656mm long, 1890mm wide, and 1639mm tall, which is 1mm longer, 9mm wider and 21mm lower than its closest rival – the X3.
As we mentioned above, the GLC is offered in AMG Line kit, which gives the SUV a sporty appearance. Notable features include LED headlamps, LED daytime running lights, positioning lamps, a panoramic sunroof, AMG’s multi-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels, and AMG doorsteps. Thanks to these goodies, the GLC turns out to be quite a looker, and is arguably the sportiest among its rivals.
Unlike its predecessor, the GLK which was rather boxy, the GLC is pretty curvaceous, but as curvy as it is, it still looks bold and would appeal to both male and female customers alike.
Besides that, it is also larger than its predecessor, but despite the increase in size, the GLC is 80kg lighter than the GLK, thanks to the hot-formed high-strength steel in the body structure and an the front wings, bonnet and roof that have a generous dose of aluminium.
Upon stepping into the GLC, we noticed that the dashboard, the instruments, the infotainment screen on the dashboard, the rotary wheel between the seats, the steering wheel, the trim applications, and even the levers and buttons are all shared with the latest C-Class. It is a C-Class on stilts after all.
There is generous amount of leather and a combination of hard and soft plastic as well. Overall, the cabin build quality is top notch and unmistakably Mercedes-Benz. The driving position was very comfortable, with raised seats affording good visibility all around.
The rear seats split 40/20/40 and offered good level of support as well. The only setback was that legroom was compromised by the central tunnel. As far as practicality goes, there are sizeable door pockets, a lidded bin and drink holders in the front section of the centre console to store items like Smart tags, mobile phones and what not.
What we loved most in the GLC was the 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system, which was so crisp and well-tuned that any song that we played sounded awesome, regardless of the genre.
And then, there was the panoramic glass roof, three-zone air conditioning, Active Parking Assist and a 360-degree camera with bird’s eye aerial view, and very ergonomically placed levers and buttons all around.
In all, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the GLC’s interior is a cut above anything else in the segment right now, as the materials, detailing, and the plush finish put all of its rivals to shame.
How does it drive?
Powering the GLC 250 is the same M274 2.0 litre engine as the C 250, which is capable of producing 211hp and 350Nm of maximum torque. Mated to the engine is a nine-speed G-tronic gearbox with torque converter, which enables the SUV to accelerate from naught to 100km/h in 7.3 seconds and clock a top speed of 225km/h.
With all 350Nm of torque available from as early as 1,200rpm, it was a case of ‘just ask and you shall receive’ when it came to power. For a vehicle its size, the way the GLC moved was pretty impressive indeed.
Complemented by the brand’s 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive system and all the electronic driving aid, the level of grip the GLC offered is also worth mentioning here. Although it is still not on par with the X3 in the agility department, the GLC 250 was still a fun vehicle to drive both in town and along some challenging twisty bits.
With five driving modes to choose from (Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual), we could alter the vehicle’s characteristics (to a certain extent) based on our moods and where we were driving. If we are to describe the GLC 250’s driving characteristics in one word, it would definitely be ‘refined’, and on the highway is where it really stood out, thanks to the nine-speed gearbox which shifted so seamlessly that we could barely feel anything.
How economical is it?
While claimed fuel consumption stands in between 6.5 to 7.1 litre/100km, we observed an average of 7 litre/100km throughout our stint with the car over three days, comprising a combination of driving within city roads in the Klang Valley and also the highway.
Mercedes-Benz could’ve been late to arrive in the premium compact SUV segment that is currently being conquered by the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5, but it definitely has all the right ingredients to give its competitors a good run for their money. It might not be the cheapest option here but it is the freshest.
While the X3 might appeal to those who want the best driving compact premium SUV, the Q5 is all about style. The GLC 250 on the other hand, is all about refinement and luxury.
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