Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class Road Test Review

ntroduction

This is one of the most important cars for Mercedes in India. Mercedes is entering a segment which has so far been exploited by the likes of Audi Q5 and BMW X3 for a while now. Internationally Mercedes has the GLK but it was getting long in the tooth and the Stuttgart giant waited for a brand new product to drop the floor from beneath its competition. Meet the GLC-Class, an SUV which in theory should give Mercedes a distinct advantage, considering the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3 are already quite old. It looks fantastic on the outside, is elegant on the inside and its proven mechanicals just makes it very strong on paper. Now thanks to local assembly the GLC-Class is really well priced as it undercuts all its rivals by a considerable margin. So just how good is the new GLC? We conducted a thorough road test on both the petrol and diesel versions to give you a definitive answer.

Design and Style

The GLC is based on the C-Class  chassis but Mercedes has heavily reworked it and it is much longer and wider than its sedan cousin. In fact, the GLC has best in class 4759mm length and 2873mm wheelbase. On the contrary it does weigh slightly more than its rivals. In pursuit of fuel efficiency and lower wind noise Mercedes has added a radiator shutter and sealed the headlamp surrounds, the roof spoiler aids airflow as does the underbody panelling. As a result it has a class leading 0.31 drag coefficient.

On the outside the GLC looks more like a C-Class  on stilts than an out and out new car., lend it the crossover look rather than the SUV glamour. That’s not to say it isn’t imposing enough. When viewed from the front the large signature grille looks striking and the beautiful full LED headlamps lends it sophistication. The hefty bumper with air intakes on both side and a large chrome scuff plate in the centre complete the impressive front look. From the rear too the pronounced shoulder line, twin tail pipes, faux chrome diffuser and the elongated tail lamps look really attractive. Thanks to the wide track the GLC looks hunkered down and sporty from the rear. When viewed in profile the large 18inch rims dominate proceedings and the prominent creases running along the front fender and doors lends it a nice stance. Though it doesn’t have the squared-off dimension you expect of a SUV it’s the same for the BMW X3 and Audi Q5 too. When we weighed both the petrol and diesel variants they turned out to be around 25kg over the claimed kerb weight.

Interiors

Cabin design and quality has been a Mercedes forte for the past few years and the GLC is no exception. The sculpted dashboard is a carryover from the C-Class  sedan and it just looks rich and beautifully designed. The leather dash top, soft plastics on the lower portions and the matte wood finish on the centre console and door pads looks and feels exquisite. The protruding tablet-like screen seem like an afterthought and the dials look a bit ordinary as compared to the rest of the cabin. The constantly improving COMAND system is quite intuitive to use thanks to the control pad but still it lags behind its German rivals in this respect. Even the 7 inch screen looks a size too small.

The seating position isn’t all that high so you slide rather than climb up in this SUV. This also means the driving position is more car like and except for the poor rear visibility, the view ahead is pretty good. Finding an ideal driving position is very easy on account of a host of electric adjustments for the seat and steering. The big front seats are comfortable and due to an adjustable squab even tall drivers will find abundance of thigh support. We would have liked the seat to offer more lateral support though, especially, considering the GLC rolls quite a bit when driven enthusiastically. At the rear there is abundance of space and despite the large central tunnel, three occupants can sit in reasonable comfort. You sit at a good height and the large windows and the plenty of headroom makes it a pleasant place to be in. The only grouse is that the seat base is quite short which results in limited under thigh support especially for tall people. The GLC is practical too with a total of four cup holders, four bottle holders and a total of nine storage spaces which includes the large cooled glovebox. The large 510litre boot gets our thumbs up but like with all new Mercs the space saver spare tyre eats into the precious luggage area and this makes loading large bags a painful task.

Safety and Equipment

To bring down the price of the locally assembled model Mercedes has skipped some features from the GLC as compared to the CBU version. The GLC now gets a two-zone climate control, standard leather seats and a manually operated tail gate. But other than this in the top Sport variant it still is pretty well loaded. It comes electric steering adjust, powered front seats with memory, cruise control, auto park assist and a 360 degree camera. It also comes with a nice sounding music system which receives inputs through a CD/DVD player, Bluetooth, SD card and two USB ports. In terms of safety the GLC comes with seven airbags, ESP, PreSafe and amongst other features.

Engine, Performance and Braking

If you are down for some fun behind the wheel then its the GLC 300 that you should look up. The petrol motor is a 1991cc, direct-injection, turbocharged unit that makes a healthy 245bhp and 370Nm of torque. Like in the diesel, it is available with the new 9-speed automatic and that’s a good thing. This motor gives out its best when you wring it by the scruff of its neck. Although it is not the smoothest sounding motor around, the exceptional top-end power is addictive and visits to the 6500rpm redline are accompanied with a wide grin on your face. But as soon as you are done having fun this motor’s limitations come to the fore. There is a fair bit of lag under 2500rpm and even midrange is not the meatiest. The potent 9-speed gearbox works overtime, juggling between ratios to keep you in the meat of the narrow power band. Even quick overtakes have to be planned on narrow two-lane roads and we feel the near 2.0 tonne kerb weight and small 2.0-litre capacity is to blame here. On a positive note this motor is extremely refined and when driven at low speeds in a sedate manner it feels right on the money.

As a result the GLC 300 registered quite impressive figures in our Vbox tests. It sprints to 100kmph from standstill in an impressive 7.41 seconds and in-gear times of 4.52 seconds and 5.81 seconds are quite good too. The strong top end power also means the GLC300 has a high 220kmph top speed.

The 2143cc diesel on the other hand is a familiar one; we’ve already seen it in the C-Class. However, initially we will get it in the 220d guise which means a modest 168bhp and 400Nm. These figures are lower compared to the X3 which gets a much more powerful 188bhp motor. But despite the modest figures, the GLC 220d has more than enough verve for everyday driving.

Thanks to good sound insulation, the NVH levels are impressively low, both at idle and on the go, and it gets harsh only near the top of the rev range. This milder state of tune suggests less aggressive turbo-charging, which means less noise.The power delivery is smooth. This engine is very linear for a diesel, and its strong bottom and midrange responses makes it quite effortless to drive. Although the motor revs quite freely to its 4600rpm redline its best to upshift around 4000rpm as it just makes more noise than progress. Surprisingly this motor appears to be more responsive than what we have experienced in the C220d and this we feel is mainly down to the potent new 9-speed automatic. With more gears to play with the ratios are closely stacked and the gearbox always finds the right gear at the right time. In Comfort mode, the shifts are soft and seamless, and the gearbox is still decently quick to react to pedal inputs. In Eco Pro mode, the ’box can’t wait to upshift, and even if you’re cruising at 60-70kph, that’s good enough for eighth gear. Saving the best for the last, it is the Sport or Sport+ mode, wherein  it is quick to downshift with the slightest change in throttle position.

The GLC 220d posted some decent times as far as outright acceleration is concerned. It registered 8.49seconds for the 0-100kmph run and in-gear times of 5.18seconds for 20-80kmph and 6.62seconds for 40-100kmph were respectable thanks to the potent gearbox.

Ride and Handling

Thanks to the fluid action of the quick steering, the GLC glides through the bends and apart from body roll in tighter corners it displays safe and predictable manners. It feels best when you encounter fast sweeping turns, where the accurate steering and exceptional grip from the 235 section Pirelli rubber gives you loads of confidence. Sure it’s not as fun as the BMW X3 but on its own the GLC is not too bad. The GLC also comes with three rough road modes (Slippery, Incline and Off-Road). Although these modes make it more capable, the GLC is still best suited for the occasional mild off-roading considering its clearance and road oriented design and tyres.

The GLC is suspended by an independent multi-link suspension all-round and it sits on steel springs. Mercedes has tuned the suspension on the softer side so low speed ride is really good with the GLC being absorbent over biggest of potholes. The odd sharp-edged bump does catch it out though as the suspension runs out of travel. At higher speeds there is a fair bit of up and down motion especially at the rear but it never gets to point of being unbearable.

Price and Fuel Economy

As Mercedes has started local assembly of the GLC it undercuts all of its rivals by a considerable margin.  Priced at around Rs 51 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) for both the petrol as well as the diesel Sport variant, The GLC is now nearly four lakh cheaper than the imported car which makes it great value. What tilts the balance further in its favour is the efficient nature of the diesel engine variant. It returned a respectable 10.7kmpl in the city and 16.1kmpl on the highway. Even the GLC 300, despite having 245bhp, is surprisingly efficient. It returned 9.1kmpl in the city and 12.2kmpl on the highway which is more than acceptable.

Verdict

Final Rating: 4.1/5

Overall

Thanks to the price-cut, the GLC is great value, despite Mercedes cutting down on the features on the assembled in India car. For this money you get an SUV which has exceptional interiors, good space, decently powerful engine options, a comfortable ride and a very attractive exterior. Sure it could have done with more powerful motors and the handling could have been more engaging but as a package, the GLC really works and it surely feels modern and more premium than its contemporaries.

Picture by: Kapil Angane

Click here for detailed features list

Click here for On-road price

Click here for GLC CKD launch story

 

Specification

CAR NAME Mercedes GLC-Class
Variant GLC300 GLC220d
ENGINE
Fuel Petrol Diesel
Installation Front, longitudinal
Displacement 4 cyls, 1991cc 4 cyls, 2143cc
Bore/stroke 83.1/91.9mm 91.2/85.2mm
Valve gear 4 valves per cyl, DOHC 4 valves per cyl, DOHC
Power 241bhp at 5500rpm 167bhp at 3000-4200rpm
Torque 370nm at 1300-4000rpm 400nm at 1400-3280rpm
Power to weight 127.17bhp per tonne 87.20bhp per tonne
Torque to weight 195.25Nm per tonne 208.87Nm per tonne
Gearbox 9-speed automatic 9-speed automatic
CHASSIS & BODY  
Construction Monocoque, five-door SUV
Kerb weight 1895kg 1915kg
Tyres 235/60 R18
Spare Space saver
STEERING
Type Rack and pinion, Electronic power steering
Turning circle 11.8m
BRAKES
Front Ventilated discs
Rear Discs
Anti-lock Yes

Test Data

PERFORMANCE & BRAKING
GLC300                                                          GLC220d
0-20kph 0.71s 1.01s
0-40kph 1.72s 2.69s
0-60kph 3.15s 4.81s
0-80kph 5.02s 7.74s
0-100kph 7.41s 11.67s
0-120kph 10.53s 16.63s
0-140kph 14.54s 25.30s
0-160kph 19.90s NA
0-180kph 27.71s NA
0-200kph 38.36 NA
20-80kph in kickdown*/3rd gear 4.52s* 6.73s*
40-100kph in kickdown*/4th gear 5.81s* 8.56s*
80-0kph              25.45m          2.65s                                            25.45m        2.65s
FUEL ECONOMY
City 8.8kmpl 10.7kmpl
Highway 11.7kmpl 16.1kmpl
Tank size 66 litres 66 litres
Range 580km 750km
INTERIOR MEASUREMENTS
Front
Legroom(Max/min) 870/640mm
Headroom(Max/min) 990/920mm
Shoulder room 1470mm
Seat base length 50/56mm
Backrest height 660mm
Rear
1mkneeroom 740mm
Kneeroom 850/590mm
Headroom 970mm
Shoulder room 1370mm
Seat base length 420mm
Backrest height 650mm
Boot  550 litres
Depth/width/height 900/1100/410mm

 

 

 

source”cnbc”