We spent a few days driving the recently launched Mercedes-Benz GLC220d to bring this road driving review.
The was a time that Mercedes-Benz was known as the producer of executive sedans. This has changed somewhat since the days of the W123 230E. Now the German automaker produces as many SUV lines as it does passenger cars. Among this portfolio is the Mercedes-Benz GLC range.
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A new version of the top-selling GLC was introduced into the local market earlier this year. As always, the GLC sits above the GLA and GLB SUVs but below the GLE and GLS in both size and price. That last letter ‘c’ also links it to the C-class, more on this in a bit. It’s the middle ground of the company’s SUV offerings. No wonder then that 2,6 million units of all generations have been sold worldwide.
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The latest version of the Mercedes-Benz GLC is not a huge departure from its predecessor, stylistically speaking. The overall appearances is sleeker, seemingly smoother and more refined, but there is definite link between the generations.
The most obvious changes are the head- and taillamps. Both are slimmed down a tad. The units up front are connected the main grille. The rears have LED elements and, if you look closely, you’ll see dozens of little three-pointed stars contained within.
We have to say that we are fans of the new appearance. The sleeker lines and raised ride height are not quite as butch as a GLE or G-wagen. In the absence of a C-Class Estate being offer in SA, this is the closest local stationwagon fans (if there any) will get to such a thing.
Step Change Inside
Remember when we said this model is based on the latest C-class? Well, that is most evident in the cabin. The Mercedes-Benz GLC220d boasts the same interior treatment as the luxury sedan. The most obvious carryovers are the massive infotainment interface (the first SUV to feature it) and the steering wheel.
The large, crisp graphics on the touchscreen definitely create a high-tech feel in the cabin. Fit and finish feels premium and during our drive we noted no untoward squeaks and rattle as we’ve experienced in some Merc models elsewhere in the range.
Space abounds in the new GLC. There is loads of room for four adults. We may not subject a fifth to share the rear bench for extended periods of time. The C-Class platform has created more rear legroom. Additionally, it has created a massive luggage area that just seems to swallow up as much as you throw into it.
Mercedes has come under some criticism for applying the ‘four-cylinder-only’ rule when it comes to the new C-Class range. From entry level derivatives to full-fat, performance AMG variants, the maximum cylinder count is four. That same rule holds true for the GLC.
As of writing, there are three GLC derivatives on offer: the GLC220d, a more powerful 300d and a petrol-fed version dubbed 300. Hotter AMG versions are in the works. The subject of this test has a turbodiesel engine that develops 145 kW with a healthy 440 N.m of torque. Power is sent to all four wheels through a nine-speed automatic transmission.
On the move engine isn’t overly dominating. It is relatively quiet for a diesel mill. Mercedes press material states that the Mercedes-Benz GLC220d can sprint from rest to 100 km/h in 8,0 seconds and that it will do a shade under 220 km/h. Both figures are perfectly acceptable for a diesel family car.
We already mentioned the quiet engine. That same sense of isolation continues once you hit the open road. The multitude of gear rations means that engine revs stay low, which is a handy for fuel consumption and passenger comfort. Speaking of…
The Mercedes-Benz GLC220d rides along like Mercedes car of old. The test unit was fitted with large, plump tyres sidewalls and is softly sprung. As a result the car had a cushy ride with no sporting pretense, as a family SUV should. The loping gait and relaxed power delivery of the engine make it a car that cover great distances with little effort. We did a 400 km road trip in one sitting without so much as realising the distance we’d covered.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC220d harks back to Mercs of old. It is comfortable, has loads of space and leads the segment in terms of technology. For those who wish to drive a Merc, but prefer SUVs, this will be the ideal solution. However, there is the small matter of the price.
This 220d variant is the most expensive of its direct competitors: the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 with similar powertrains. The Audi feels the most staid of the trio. The BMW is unashamedly sporting. The Merc counters with quite a comprehensive features list, although there is always something to add. If you are in this segment and prefer a cushy ride with a comfy cabin then this is the car for you.
Model: Mercedes-Benz GLC220d
Price: R1 221 351
Engine: 2,0-litre 4-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmission: nine-speed, automatic AWD
Max power: 145 kW
Max torque: 440 N.m
0-100 km/h: 8,0 sec
Top speed: 219 km/h
Fuel consumption: 5,9 km