Test Drive Review : Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 4MATIC

Test Drive Review : Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 4MATIC

What’s This?

The GLC-Class is the successor to the GLK and the result of Mercedes-Benz wanting a good share of the premium mid-size SUV pie. The GLC-Class is a fairly new one, starting life as a 2016 model, and it adopts the ‘G’ moniker from ‘Geländewagen’ (or off-road vehicle) and ‘L’ from ‘Luxus’ (or luxury). The ‘C’ denotes its sizing i.e. it’s equivalent to the C-Class. 

What About It?

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia had launched the GLC 250 4MATIC (the only variant here) in January 2016 as a fully imported unit and since then worked hard to get it locally assembled. The locally assembled GLC comes in semi-knocked down (SKD) form i.e. it comes in parts but has been painted in Germany, and was launched in August.

There’s very little difference between the fully imported and the locally assembled versions aside from it coming only with AMG kit, the touchpad with controller updated from the simple Comand knob, a stowage package which includes a tensioner strap in the front armrest storage, map pockets on the front seatbacks, a collapsible box and netting in the boot, and LED ambient lighting in multiple colors. Also, the local GLC 250 is assembled in a less robotized environment while still adhering to the strict Mercedes-Benz quality standards.

The GLC 250 is styled in the current Mercedes-Benz design language, with the three-point star taking prominence on the radiator grille and surrounded by bold three-dimensional twin louvers. Flanking this is the LED Intelligent Light system and rounding out the broad rear are the LED tail lights with a distinctive night design. Take a closer look at the exterior and you’ll find the antenna missing. That’s because it’s been integrated into the wing mirrors and rear spoiler, giving the body a cleaner look. Despite being sizeable, the GLC 250 has a coefficient of drag number of 0.31; in comparison, the Tesla Model S has a Cd of 0.24.

What’s Inside?

As mentioned, the old Comand knob on the center console has been uprated to the newer touchpad with controller to control the infotainment system. The touchpad lets you control via 1- or 2-finger gestures and also recognizes handwriting. All the information (radio, telephone, vehicle settings, Dynamic Select modes, navigation, 360° view, etc) shows up on the tablet-like display on the dashboard, which looks like it can be removed or folded but can do neither. The GLC 250 comes with Garmin Map Pilot and a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system as standard.

The dashboard is translated from the W205 C-Class sedan and fits well in the GLC, with open-pore black ash wood trim and silver accents. Not that the interior feels claustrophobic but the panoramic sliding sunroof gives the cabin an airy feel. The seats and interior get Artico (a fancy name for vinyl) faux leather which doesn’t feel too different from the real thing; the upside of this is some cows didn’t lose their hide for your ride. The front seats are semi-bucket and electrically adjustable with 3 memory settings. The front armrest is spacious and houses 2 USB ports and an SD card slot.

Meanwhile, the rear seats are fairly comfortable even for the middle passenger as the bench is relatively flat. The rear seatback split 40:20:40 for more flexible configuration and there’s a button on either side of the inner door molding, at hip level, to fold the seat. The corresponding buttons are also found in the cargo area thereby adding convenience. The cargo area is a roomy 580 liters with the seats up and expands to 1,600 liters. There is additional storage under the cargo floor due to the absence of a spare tire. Hands-free access allows the tailgate to be opened by swiping your foot under the bumper, as long as you have the key fob in your pocket.

What’s Underneath?

The Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 4MATIC is powered by a 2-liter inline-4 turbocharged direct injection engine with maximum output of 211 hp. Peak torque of 350 Nm can be obtained between 1,200 – 4,000 rpm so power comes early to move over 1,700 kg of machinery. As a 4MATIC variant, the GLC 250 has permanent all-wheel drive and can sprint from 0 – 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds with the help of the 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic gearbox.

Maximum speed is capped at 222 km/h and the official average combined fuel consumption is 7.1 l / 100 km. Realistically, I averaged 9.8 l / 100 km which isn’t bad for a heavy vehicle. This also included some spirited driving along the way.

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What’s It Like?

The Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 is fairly easy to drive for an SUV, with little noise intrusion into the cabin and good visibility all around. It comes with Dynamic Select modes which offer you the option to pick between Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual settings from the toggle next to the touchpad on the center console. In Eco mode, the drive feels relaxed, with upshifts coming early. Sport mode naturally turns up the heat with more aggressive revs and gets you going quickly. While Individual mode lets you customize the engine and steering response as well as air-con fan speed and auto stop/start.

The 4MATIC distributes torque with a 67% bias to the rear most of the time and will adjust the ratio as the driving style and terrain requires. The large 20″ runflat tires on the AMG alloy wheels keep the car steady on the road and cushion the ride well even with the GLC sitting on sports suspension. However, it must always be remembered that a tall vehicle cannot defy the laws of physics no matter how many driving aids are crammed in. Still, the GLC is quite tolerant of some silliness as long as you work within its capabilities. But if you aim to ‘whack corners’ like you’re driving a GT S, I would recommend you buy a GT S.

Any Interesting Features?

There is a range of useful and interesting features in the GLC, like the Active Parking Assist with Parktronic. This feature helps you park and un-park the GLC with the help of sensors. All you need to do is work the gears, throttle and brake pedals; the vehicle will steer itself in and/or out. This feature is aided by the 360° view camera which gives a bird’s eye view of your surroundings.

But the most memorable features for me are the Pre-Safe and Collision Prevention Assist Plus, which came to my aid one night. As I accelerated after making a U turn on the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP), the car in front of me (it was roughly 2 cars’ length away) came to a sudden and complete halt to avoid hitting a stalled motorcycle in front of it. In that very brief moment, which seemed to happen in slow motion, the red warning light on the instrument cluster lit; I only realized this later. But it was the loud audible warning which caused me to react by stomping on the brake pedal.

Every driving aid acronym you can think of came to life. The risk of collision was high enough to activate the seat belt tensioners to pull me into the seat. Thankfully, the GLC came to a stop with centimeters to spare; it skidded a little but there wasn’t a moment you feel a loss control, although the fast approaching rear bumper did provide some drama. Reading up more on these safety aids after the fact, I learned that in anticipating a collision, the system will move the seats to the optimal position, adjust the front head restraints, close the sunroof and windows (if it senses the driver has lost control of the car), prepares the airbags, partially brake autonomously and flash the adaptive brake lights to warn vehicles behind. Had the GLC not been equipped with the Pre-Safe and Collision Prevention Assist Plus systems, it would have been an unplanned test of airbags and crumple zones.

Other features included in the GLC 250 are the tire pressure monitoring system, cruise control & speed limiter, rear door roller sunblinds, Keyless Go start, Audio 20 CD system and Thermotronic climate control, just to name a few.

Who Is It For?

This is for anyone who wants a comfortable, spacious and practical vehicle with a high driving position. Essentially, if you’re in the market for a C-Class (or its equivalent), you should give this a thought too.

How Much?

The locally assembled Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 4MATIC AMG Line is priced at RM 325,888.



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