Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 long-termer says a lot about the changes that have swept through Mercedes-Benz over the last 20 years as it has broadened, stretched and deepened its range. This is a compact luxury SUV that hits the market sweet spot â€“ just as it has been researched, designed and built to do.
Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 2016 Review
After nearly a week in the Mercedes-Benz GLC 250Â the penny finally dropped. Despite the pre-launch expectation, despite its undoubted competence, despite its excellent sales, this car was making no impact on me whatsoever.
Maybe because it is an SUV, a category of vehicle for which I have no particular affinity or affection; maybe because having driven some great Benzes of late â€“ the A 45 AMG, the C 63 S coupe to name two â€“ the GLC pales by comparison.
Yes, I know, hardly a logical response. But if you want an earnest attempt to dissect the rational pros and cons of the first compact Benz SUV to come here there are other earlier assessments of motoring.com.auâ€™s long termer for you to analyse. Just scroll to the bottom of this report and click on the links.
But here itâ€™s more about the vibe.
I donâ€™t mean the very few literal vibrations that penetrate the hushed and well constructed cabin â€“ or for that matter much in the way of a soundtrack from the smooth and responsive 2.0-litre four-cylinder direct-injected turbo-petrol engine.
I mean the feeling of connection that good cars deliver. Even SUVs can do that; the locally-built Ford Territory is a great example of that, hell even Nissanâ€™s humble QASHQAI has a skerrick of that mysterious automotive attraction that comes when a bunch of bits add up to something more than simply transport.
I just donâ€™t get that feeling from the Mercedes-Benz GLC 250.
It starts losing emotional points for me just looking at it. I mean, itâ€™s bland. Itâ€™s the safest bet amongst itâ€™s logical rivals. All the daring do that infects the look of the smaller GLA has been snuffed out. I donâ€™t think it will age well â€“ or badly for that matter. Itâ€™s a safe bet and thatâ€™s kinda the point I am trying to make here.
Inside the Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 is a cookie cutter execution of a modern Benz; dual-tube instrumentation. Again a safe bet and entirely competent.
Thereâ€™s a big tablet-like non-touch screen stuck at the top of the centre stack; significant storage released by having the transmission lever on the right-side of the steering column; there is space in the rear, plenty of room in the boot, a decent level of equipment plucked from the Benz catalogue and pricing that is in the ballpark against the logical opposition from Audi and BMW.
So as a box ticking exercise thereâ€™s no doubt the GLC excels.
But box ticking suggests something of the automaton. And thatâ€™s the way it drives too. Essentially a raised C-Class wagon, it loses a little of that carâ€™s agility and ride quality and adds just a touch of jitteriness and movement. The GLC higher centre of gravity than the C and extra weight produces these predictable side effects.
But I stress itâ€™s not bad. In fact, the GLC drives without any real foibles.
So having rambled on for a while, hereâ€™s a few specific things I noted about the GLC.
First off, did I mention itâ€™s quiet? There canâ€™t be many quieter SUVs cruising around out there. The 8.4-inch screen for the optional COMAND system went blank for a couple of minutes then came back. It only happened once.
Fuel economy averaged out at 10.2L/100km, which is fair bit higher than the claimed 7.2L. Lots of short commuter-style bursts in that. The big front chairs are supportively comfortable and having the power adjustment in the door card remains a great idea. Why doesnâ€™t anyone else do that?
The â€˜three on the treeâ€™ shifter (yeah I know itâ€™s actually a nine-speed auto) is a great idea for efficient use of space. But every now and again I went to indicate for an upcoming corner and found myself rolling around it in neutral. Sport mode delivers better engine response than the slightly tardy Comfort mode.
Thereâ€™s no spare tyre.
And there you have it. For me perhaps the most significant thing about the the GLC is this is the car that absolutely transitions Mercedes-Benz publicly and obviously into what it has been becoming for some years now; a mass marketer of mainstream cars. And thatâ€™s just fine.
Itâ€™s been designed, cliniced and researched to sell it socks off to an upwardly mobile audience that loves luxury SUVs and cares a lot about the badge on the nose and what it says about them. And thatâ€™s just fine too.
But I reckon the best thing about the GLC is it will help stuff Benzâ€™s coffers with cash. That will give it the leeway it to keep building cars like the C 63 â€“ the cars that move us in a lot of other ways than just from A to B.
Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 Â 2016 Â pricing and specifications:
Price: $74,880 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Fuel: 7.2L/100km (ADR Combined)
CO2: 168g/km (ADR Combined)
Safety Rating: Five-star ANCAP