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It may have been late to the party but it’s an impressively strong contender.
Under the bonnet, the line-up for our market is based around 2. 1-litre diesel power, offered with either 170bhp in the base GLC 220d or 204bhp in the pokier GLC 250d variant. Power is transmitted to the tarmac via a smooth standard 9G-TRONIC nine-speed auto gearbox and permanent 4MATIC 4WD. Plus you can alter the feel of your car via an ‘AGILITY SELECT’ driving dynamics system, one of those set-ups that allows you to alter steering feel, gearchange timings, throttle response and suspension feel at the press of a button.
Take a look around once you’re comfortably seated inside and the two staples of current Mercedes cabin style are present and correct. There are five round silver-trimmed air vents and above the three in the centre sits a prominent iPad-style infotainment screen, its free-standing positioning smacking either of after-thought or inspired design, depending on your point of view.
Luggage space is accessed via the standard electrically-operated tailgate and offers a load capacity of 550-litres. For ultimate space, you can activate the power-release backrest buttons which leave you with a virtually flat extended loadbay free of annoying steps and ridges. It’s 1,600-litres in size, which is significantly more than the kind of total capacity you’d get in rivals.
So, the wait was worth it. Mercedes first real attempt at creating a design properly equipped to target front-running models in the premium mid-sized SUV segment is the impressively complete all-rounder we hoped it would be. Where its left hand drive-only predecessor traded on brand image and not a lot else, this car is there or thereabouts in almost any important area you care to mention.
Much of that of course, is down to the way the GLC’s engineering borrows hugely from other Mercedes models, though to be fair, it also has a few tricks of its own. Namely the option of the kind of air suspension system that previously was largely limited to much bigger SUVs. That plays a key part in creating far greater reserves of off road ability than you’d normally expect a car of this kind to be able to offer. A pity then, that very few owners will ever get to experience it.
We think though, that these buyers will still be pretty satisfied: there is, after all, a combination of frugality, space and comfort that rivals will find very hard to beat. Yes, some potential customers may feel that there are more dynamic choices they could make in this segment, but these people won’t be able to leave a Mercedes showroom before being directed towards the sleeker Coupe version of this car – which could very well make them think again.
Most though, will value the all-round practicality of the standard model. No, it can’t give you the seven-seat capacity of some rivals but, it’s hard to see how you’ be disappointed by this Mercedes. Yes, it’s arrived late to the party, but it’s well prepared to create quite a stir.