Compact SUVs is not what Mercedes-Benz does generally, but when they gave us the GLA everybody was satisfied with the new horizon. It may not be as spacious as expected, but it sure did look gorgeous and came with a brilliant engine. Now they’ve given us the brand new GLC which looks an even better, is bigger and sounds a nicer proposition. It is just the right size for urban driving and cross-country travelling. We say ‘chartered territory’ as other rivals were already present in that bracket with BMW X3, Audi Q5 and the Land Rover Discovery Sport. Since this is a new segment for Mercedes, they better have a class-leading product in the GLC to stand in such stiff competition. Based on the C-class, the GLC will slot right in the middle of the compact GLA and the bigger GLE.
When it comes to design the GLC ticks all the right boxes. Its smooth flowing lines surround the entire body with no irregularities in the middle. The body car exudes a sense of sportiness without compromising its elegant family design. Its imposing face is a combination of that steadfast grille and gorgeous LED daytime running lights. The high roofline means it does look tall and has a practical inside. The tail section looks even more appealing with classy sedan like tail light and chrome details on the exhaust outlets. The wing mirrors might look a bit tiny for a car this size but they work just fine.
The clean no-nonsense dashboard layout is a symphony of classy design and high quality materials. Reminiscent of the C-class, the interior might look the same but has been increased in size. 33mm longer wheelbase adds the much required space for rear passengers. The seats both front and rear, are very comfortable and supportive. Electrically adjustable at the front, they hug you while you take the GLC exercising off-road, or when you chuck it around fast bends. You also get all the toys you can ask for, from 20 CD multimedia system, Garmin Map Pilot SD card-based navigation system, keyless go, roller sun blinds for rear doors to Thermotronic 3-zone automatic control. The 7-inch media display screen on the centre still looks a bit out of place but is extremely usable and controlled by a touchpad integrated in the central control panel. The 40/20/40 seats can be collapsed using spring-release switches giving a massive boot volume of 1600 litres.
Engine and performance
The GLC ‘Edition 1’ will be available in both diesel and petrol engines, 2143cc oil burner and 1991cc petrol maiden. The one we got our hands was the crisp 245bhp petrol engine with 370Nm peak torque. This one is fairly going to plaster a smile on your face. Naught to 100kmph takes just 6.5seconds and top speed lingers near 220kmph, noticeably quick numbers from a 2.5 tonne 1BHK flat on fours. The other massive convenience is the new 9G-Tronic 9-speed automatic transmission which is responsive and efficient at the same time. Power is delivered in a linear fashion which you can very easily manage and keep progressing through as the rpm rise. The engine and transmission combine the drive experience as both comforting and fun, and atop that you may tune the nature of the entire car by selecting through 5 driving modes, Sport+, Sport, Comfort, Eco and Individual.
Ride and handling
Ride is one area where a Mercedes never disappoints, and the GLC is no exception. You could very well suggest that it rides better than a saloon with that high ground clearance. The difference in the softness of the suspension can be noticed while shifting from ‘Comfort’ to ‘Sport’. The former makes the ride sublime absorbing all surface undulations while the latter provides that necessary stiffness required for hard cornering. Handling is further aided by Mercedes-Benz 4MATIC all-wheel drive hardware with surefooted road holding on any surface you fancy. The steering is not exactly direct, but it isn’t slow either. It responds eagerly to your inputs and sort of also gives you some time to think and adjust trajectories through corners. Off the road it is even better and will ford every stream.
Equipment and safety
Well it is a Mercedes-Benz so no surprises when you find the car loaded with all possible goodies for the price. Top-quality materials, stalk mounted gearlever, infotainment controller with touch pad, automatic panoramic sliding sunroof, ‘Edition 1’ badge on central console, 3-zone climate control and a lot more. Seriously just check the brochure and you’ll run out of breath. And then are the safety systems that are exhaustive too. Mercedes has put in its Pre-Safe crash safety, there are window airbags between the A and C-pillars, ESP Curve Dynamic Assist, Adaptive brake lights that warn people at the rear in case of hard braking and there is also a knee airbag for the driver.
The segment might already have capable rivals for the GLC, but we think this three-pointed SUV has all the bases covered, and some. It is a C-class but with none of its limitations, i.e. high riding with 4-wheel drive. The petrol is very fast but not as frugal as its diesel counterpart, but then the diesel isn’t a slouch when it comes to making progress quickly. Our recommendation will still be the diesel for an avid customer, but if you are one of those who likes to listen a petrol engine roar between gear changes get the petrol that honestly has no rivals.
Images by Abhijeet Singh