The right ingredients
Mercedes-Benz has been a pioneering brand from day one of the car and it’s not often that this German outfit is caught napping. Perhaps they were dozing slightly when sales figures of medium-sized luxury SUV’s shot skywards; led by the BMW X3 and Audi’s Q5. Mercedes’ answer, the GLC, only arrived last year.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. For reasons involving a drive shaft and the right-side front foot-well, the GLC’s predecessor (called GLK) was only ever made with its steering wheel on the left. Built from about 2008 to 2015, it trailed the X3’s birth by four years but in all fairness, Audi took similarly long to ready their Q5.
For those who’ve never seen the old GLK, it was a rather boxy SUV with big creases and huge light clusters. Based on the preceding C-Class, Mercedes took the opportunity to not only bring this new car in line with its current and curvy design language, but also addressed its name at the same time.
All their SUV’ nomenclatures now start with “G”, single use being reserved for the hardy Geländewagen. The huge GL became GLS (because it’s as big as an S-Class), the ML is now a GLE (roughly the size of an E-Class) GLA is basically a raised A-Class and the GLK became this GLC. Yes, it’s based on the new C-Class platform.
The relationship is clearly visible inside and out, as our test car resembled a modern C-Class in many ways. Especially the interior and its face are almost identical, although this author bemoans the fact that all Mercedes’ models appear to have the same visage. Audi already does that, why are you copying them?
Anyway. The GLC is finally available in right-hand-drive and most dealers around here will tell you that it should’ve been much, much sooner. Irrespective of which (C-Class) engines, gearboxes, trim or colour is specified, the new medium SUV with luxury Mercedes-Benz trimmings sells itself.
Available as two turbo-diesels, two turbo-petrols and a supercharged V6 AMG model, prices range from N$647,200 to N$925,200 with plenty of modern luxuries and safety equipment. Dig a little deeper in your pockets and – depending on model – you may load it up with extra gadgets and lavish treats.
Our test car was the sensible middle child, a C300 4Matic with 180kW or 370Nm from its generic 2-litre turbo-petrol four cylinder. “4Matic” is Mercedes speak for all-wheel-drive, meaning all GLC’s have an intelligent drive system which sends power to whichever wheel (or wheels) need it the most.
Low range and diff locks aren’t available because you’d be buying the wrong car for extreme off-roading. Mercedes offers an off-road package for N$9,500 which gives you extra protection for the engine’s oil sump and a slightly better ground clearance. That should be fine for mild excursions beyond the tarmac.
Driving the GLC300 feels like – pardon the lazy description – like a raised C300 sedan with bigger shoes. That extra ride height and chunkier feeling is what most customers will be after but a GLC offers a few more advantages. Although slightly shorter than a C-Class Estate, it provides similar load- and head-room.
Maximum cargo capacity in a GLC is 550L (rear seats up) to 1,600L (seats down) versus the C Estate’s 490 to 1,510. The latter’s advantages are lower prices, a lower load sill and arguably better road holding due to its lower center of gravity but, given its fewer models and hatred among locals, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it disappear.
I would be terribly sad, too, as I’m a big fan of the practical station wagon. However, it doesn’t take long to understand why most of us crave the taller SUV counterpart. Besides the egotistical rise in chair height, anyone with outdoorsy hobbies, adventurous families and goals at the end of dirt roads would choose a GLC.
Basically, most of us. A few more notes I made on the GLC300 concerned its smooth and stable road holding, as well as the punchy motor under its sculpted bonnet. I still mourn the demise of unassisted, big engines but these new down-sized turbo units are incredible; especially when mated to a nine-speed automatic gearbox.
Mercedes claims 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds and we managed a respectable best of 6.86 and the ¼ mile in 14.95 seconds. The manufacturer also alleges a top speed of 235km/h and average fuel use of 7.6L/100km from the 66L tank. As always, we overshot that consumption by about 30% in real-life, mixed driving situations.
Still, the new Mercedes-Benz GLC is extremely well-rounded and versatile – just two facets of its remarkable appeal. The brand has a lot of local market share to capture in this segment, thanks to the absence of the old GLK. But one thing’s for sure, this new GLC has all the right ingredients to match any of its rivals.
0-10km/h: 0,56 seconds
0-20km/h: 0,98 seconds
0-30km/h: 1,43 seconds
0-40km/h: 1,93 seconds
0-50km/h: 2,53 seconds
0-60km/h: 3,21 seconds
0-70km/h: 3,94 seconds
0-80km/h: 4,82 seconds
0-90km/h: 5,77 seconds
0-100km/h: 6,86 seconds
0-110km/h: 8,09 seconds
0-120km/h: 9,52 seconds
0-130km/h: 11,04 seconds
0-140km/h: 12,78 seconds
0-150km/h: 14,65 seconds
0-100m: 6,24 seconds @ 92,82km/h
0-200m: 9,58 seconds @ 120,74km/h
0-300m: 12,37 seconds @ 136,51km/h
0-400m: 14,89 seconds @ 149,67km/h
100-0km/h: 3,69 seconds @ 44,54m
0-10mph: 0,72 seconds
0-20mph: 1,49 seconds
0-30mph: 2,41 seconds
0-40mph: 3,50 seconds
0-50mph: 4,88 seconds
0-60mph: 6,63 seconds
0-70mph: 8,72 seconds
0-80mph: 11,16 seconds
0-90mph: 14,09 seconds
0-100mph: 18,35 seconds
1/4 mile: 14,95 seconds @ 93,07mph
Maximum acceleration G-force: 0.81G
All data captured by Racelogic® Performance Box