There’s something rather different about the new Mercedes-Benz GLC and yet it’s equally very familiar.
From the outset, it is immediately apparent that the GLC’s design is both more in tune with the brand’s new family look but not without adding its own splash of character. The grille, front apron and LED High-Performance headlamps all feature Mercedes-Benz’s new design, (no DNA testing required) but there’s a greater assertiveness to the SUV, it’s bolder, more masculine even.
It’s true that my ‘Launch Edition’ review model came with the AMG-line package, however, there’s more confidence with the body and more poise to its stance, aided in part by the GLC’s strong beltline, running boards and blackened wheel arches but topped off by the 20-inch AMG twin-spoke alloys it came equipped with.
The SUV’s rear has received some attention too. There’s a new design to the bumpers, sporty tailpipe trims, flattened LED taillights and ‘kicker’ tailgate entry.
As one would expect, Mercedes’s new tech direction has been adopted on the inside, but again, with a hint of its own flair. The MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User eXperience) featuring ‘Hey Mercedes’ has been welcomed into the GLC’s modern and rather upmarket cabin, however, instead of having one long and combined digital Infotainment screen and instrument cluster, (as seen in the E and A’s), the GLC’s is a more traditional, two-part, floating screen and ‘under Cowell’ affair. Both screens are incredibly personalisable with touchpad, voice and thumb inputs, while the infotainment screen has the added bonus of being soft-touch too.
In my particular case, under the GLC’s well-crafted bonnet is a 2L, 4-cylinder turbo-petrol engine. It produces 190kW of power and 370Nm of torque all while delivering fuel efficiencies of 8.1L/100km combined. There’s also a 200 petrol option (145kW/320Nm) and for those that like to plugin, a PHEV with 155kW/350Nm plus an electric motor that adds 90kW and takes the Nm up to 440! What the new GLC doesn’t have, is a diesel power option, Petrol and PHEV only people. All three of the above powertrains are married to a 9G-Tronic transmission and the latter two come with 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
For those that require a little (ok a lot) more, AMG has joined in on the new GLC party as well, with a 43 and 63 S option – maybe next time.
Anyway, back to the 300 I had in my possession. I headed out of the Mercedes-Benz HQ in Mt Wellington and immediately joined heavy traffic north on SH1. This is the part where I harp on about the state of Auckland rush hour and how it’s not confined to the commute any more. Feeling a little ‘clevererer’ than normal, I called on ‘Hey Mercedes’ to find me a quicker way home, the modern MBUX system was happy to help. Thanks to live traffic (and a crash on the bridge), it directed me on to the North Western, a route that despite being longer in km’s it saved me valuable minutes and kept the wheels moving and gave me the chance to get better acquainted with the SUV.
The new GLC felt larger than before, but since most of the changes are ‘cosmetic’ I appreciate that the feeling was obviously all in my head. Still, I felt it just the same. On the motorways, it positions itself well in the lanes and all the Mercedes ‘driver’s aid’ wizardry is on hand to keep you centered and out of harm’s way. I have to admit to not being a big fan of lane keep assist but I’ll happily put adaptive cruise control (DISTRONIC PLUS) any day of the week. Tunes on full (well almost), Panoramic sunroof open and the feel-good vibes were high.
Bringing a luxury brand vehicle home means that the family nags me to take them with me on reviews, so into the new GLC we all climbed and headed north towards ice creams and winding roads (not in that order and thankfully, not at the same time).
As stoic as the GLC felt in heavy traffic, it’s virtually twice that on the open road. The 2L is responsive and the take up is quick (particularly in Sport), the suspension is firm but forgiving where and when necessary and the technology and infotainment seems to go on and on.
Admiring the GLC in the park as we downed our well-deserved lolly’s made for quite the family outing. The new SUV may have received a fresh new face, a new heart and now comes loaded with smarts, but it’s unmistakeably part of the Mercedes-Benz family in driving finesse and attitude.