Tested: 2023 Mercedes-Benz GLC220d

Mercedes-Benz South Africa has not only been extremely busy pumping out an impressive amount of new vehicles, they were also extremely kind to us when it came to press car allocation. This GLC220d arrived after its rapid 300d sibling (read more here) and made a strong case for the lesser model…

If you can’t be bothered reading my GLC300d Sprint Review, the key information sounds as follows: dark grey with funky part-red seats, blacked out bright-work and ///AMG trinkets everywhere, as well as maximum attack mode for its 2L turbo-diesel motor, to the tune of 215kW and 550Nm!

By comparison, this 220d version (the base diesel in our market) is positively pedestrian at “just” 162kW and 440Nm, although anyone who gets the privilege to pilot one of these will quickly discover that its tarmac performance embodies the phrase “perfectly acceptable”. Mercedes claims 0-100km/h in 8 seconds and we managed 7,8.

Apologies for jumping straight into the performance aspect of this vehicle but it is quite a stark contrast when you experience these cars in quick succession. The overwhelmingly positive message I’m trying to bring across here is that a GLC300d AMG-Pack is for retired F1 drivers while this 220 derivative is perfectly fine for normal people.

That also goes for its exterior looks, which trade the sporty (and costly) upgrades for understated elegance and sensible wheel sizes; by modern standards. This means that you won’t cause a scene in front of nightclubs but you’ll also enjoy a degree of anonymity, mixed with the delicious middle-aged nectar of comfortable suspension.

I might be exaggerating here, but there’s certainly a notable difference in ride comfort to bigger models. That’s doubly-so for the real AMG models, which need ultra-low profile tyres to maximize cornering grip. Again, I can’t stress enough that this GLC220d corners just fine. It just leans a bit more and, when pushed too far, hands over to a semi-lenient stability control system.

Slow things down a bit and this all-wheel drive SUV will reveal amazing modern efficiency, by exploiting most of its nine automatic gears to always stay within the clever diesel motor’s torque band of 1,800 to 2,800rpm. And don’t worry, the initial gap is hardly noticeable at pull-away, except perhaps in the “Eco” setting of its multi-mode drivetrain response settings.

Mercedes-Benz South Africa claims average diesel use of just 5.2L/100km from the 62L tank, resulting in a theoretical range of almost 1,200km. And although that can be challenging to achieve in hillside suburban areas, we got mighty close to that number as soon as we pointed this car’s nose at a steady highway horizon.

Mhm, what else? The interior of modern Mercedes’ is a bit of a double-edged sword for anyone who’s a fan of the brand’s simplistic layouts of yester-decade. The face-lifted GLC cabin is a beautiful symphony of flowing lines, sculpted seat shape, cool ambient lighting and perfectly angled displays, yet the latter can be overwhelming for technophobes.

There are a few shortcut buttons underneath the driver-oriented vertical media system, but a few more (like ventilation) would’ve been nice in my opinion. Steering wheel buttons help with some basic audio commands, while the sales gimmick “Hey Mercedes” voice command can be used to a high degree of accuracy.

If you don’t have a thick accent.

Although full black leather is my least favourite option, all surfaces did their utmost to attain the magical description “premium”, with only minor creaks when you press on the piano-black center console. Rear seat passengers reported firm seats but decent space, while the boot can accommodate 620L of your finest family luggage.

Drop the rear seats (in a 60/40 split fashion) and this can be elevated to 1,680L, giving the GLC proper SUV credentials. Ditto for the 2,5 ton towing ability, ground clearance of at least 150mm, plus a turning radius which starts at 11.8m. If you opt for the new GLC’s rear-steer axle, the diameter shrinks to 10.9 meters.

Pricing starts at R1,227,300 for this 220d model, but that can swiftly escalate due to the tastier options being reserved for the options list. Mercedes-Benz offers a staggering amount of wheel, headlight, colour, privacy, trim, media, towing, comfort and safety goodies to tempt you far beyond what their price list alleges.

Should you decide to pull the trigger on a new GLC220d avec AMG kit, you have our unanimous blessing from the team at NamWheels. With the mix of comfort, performance and efficiency we experienced during our week’s testing, we see no reason to crave the bigger 300d model other than bragging rights or illegal speeds.

Each new GLC220d is sold with a 2-year (unlimited mileage) warranty as well as a 5-year/100,000km maintenance plan.

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