We drove the Mercedes GLC 250d 4Matic: the (b)right star on all your roads…

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When the oldest car manufacturer in the world brings out a compact SUV, or any SUV for that matter, you can expect something truly special. The GLC proves again the case, admirably. This three starred gem is to be seen as a direct competitor to the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3, and the competition is heating up as the X3 has been revamped completely quite recently. Our test car came with the more powerful 204 HP version of the trusted 2,1 liter Diesel engine, and was stealing admiring looks in its iridium silver livery. And it had a lot more up its sleeve, just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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A sound base…

The GLC 250d rolls on a C-Class platform, and this means aluminum is widely used, also in the body, resulting in a reduced weight, very fitting for a modern mid-size SUV. But it is also crammed with state of the art mechanics. One of the highlights here is the new 9 speed automatic transmission, which really stands out.

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Another well tested building block is the 2,1 liter Diesel engine. You would expect it to be clearly audible when doing its good work, as it does in other models, but here none of it. It is super smooth in this GLC, and totally silent, except when you go looking for the last horsepower in sport “plus” mode.

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The Mercedes chassis and noise damping engineers and testers have certainly done their homework. This GLC rolls smoothly like a (classic) Mercedes should, and it scores in this respect at the top of its class. As said, all this smoothness is further enhanced by this near to perfect transmission, which changes gears at the ideal moment(s), according to the mode you have chosen, and does this totally imperceptible.

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It is one of the many qualities of this good looking Mercedes. Another is its ride. We couldn’t test the air spring suspension, but the “classic” coil spring layout fulfills any wishes for a comfortable, smooth ride, without any hint of roughness or bumpiness.

Top performance and admirable off road qualities

Our test car came with the 150 kW version of the trusted four cylinder Diesel, developing a healthy torque of 500 Nm from merely 1600 rpm, and this of course means relaxed cruising at (very) low revs. A relaxing cruiser this GLC certainly is.

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This doesn’t mean you cannot drive it in a more sporting manner, and when you have chosen the proper driving mode, the handling is precise and stable enough to enjoy it all. But we were rather temped to use the “eco” or “comfort” mode, and enjoy the smooth transmission and the velvety pulling power of the engine. Of course it is a master on the Autobahn. Top speed is 222 km/h, with of course whisper silent high speed stability speaking for itself.

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The GLC is not only built for boulevard rides. It will also stand its own off road. Our test car came even with the higher ground clearance setting, costing a good 270 Euros extra.

The “good star” ambiente in the cabin

A Mercedes is also to be enjoyed (very much) inside. This cabin has it all. Nice instrumentation, curves and surfaces, in the good tradition of the house, reminiscent of course of the C-Class. Everything being just that more opulent and solid, and one feels comfy and protected, every minute you spend in the comfortable, ideally supporting seats.

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Handling all the knobs and levers in a Mercedes takes some getting used to, but let any novice rest assured, the Mercedes designers are masters in ergonomics, and after some time, you wonder why not more cars are made like this. The cabin is also roomy enough, and the same can be said for the boot space.

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Solid and frugal

With an SUV, the consumption or overall economy is always an issue. I so much depends on your driving style. We all know that the official figures are reached in (near) ideal circumstances. So the average quoted by the manufacturer is 5 liter/100 km. Driving sedately and with anticipation on open roads will get you results near that figure.

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But in slower, dense traffic or using the power of the engine for more agility will change this rosy picture. Our consumption hovered rather between 6 and 7 liters, as we said driving “E” style mostly. All being said, very creditable indeed. Then there is the build quality, the overwhelming feeling of solidity, the knowledge that this car is built to last forever if you like to keep caring for it and maintaining it properly.

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Mercedes is well known for its vast range of accessories and options one can choose, and indeed there is enough on the list to equip this GLC almost as an S-Class. Our test car came with a stylish design pack and an AMG interior, which made this Mercedes very nice to live with. On the exterior, we liked also the 20 inch multispoke alloy AMG wheels.

Conclusion

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The GLC is a formidable contender in its class. It has all the outstanding, typical qualities of a Mercedes, build quality, solidity, excellent engineering, performance, comfort and uncanny safety. The cocooning feeling of being protected every meter you drive it, enjoying mechanical refinement in the progress, a tasteful interior and also pleasing looks outside. A very comfortable cruiser, in and out of town, and also well at home off road. This is what this GLC brings you, and that is an awful lot…

Hans Knol ten Bensel