SHORT TEST DRIVE: MERCEDES BENZ GLC 250 4MATIC


A few weeks ago I was invited to try out the Mercedes Benz GLC 250 4Matic SUV at Cycle & Carriage's Mercedes Benz showroom located along Jalan Tun Razak (incidently my favourite Mecedes Benz showroom to visit - free plug here peeps!). The Mercedes Benz GLC-Class is Mercedes Benz's answer to the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3. It is a long time coming as prior to this, Mercedes Benz had no direct competitor, locally or in right hand drive markets. Before the GLC existed, which was sometime 2015, Mercedes Benz only had something called the GLK for left hand drive markets. This was actually a huge mistake and if you noticed, there are lots of Audi Q5s and BMW X3s around. Of course, now with the launch of the GLC in Malaysia, things are bound to change.



So what is a Mercedes Benz GLC? It is a small luxury SUV that shares the basic underpinnings of the C-Class. This is why it has the letter 'C' in the GLC. . It uses a stretched version of the C-Class platform and you'd clearly notice the similarities inside. The dashboard is almost the same as in the W205 C-Class. The GLC we get is the GLC 250 4Matic. We are not getting any other models (as yet) and this GLC 250 is powered by the familiar 2.0liter turbocharged engine which we see in the C-Class and the E-Class. It gets 208hp and a useful 350Nm of torque. The power goes to all four wheels (right hand drive models like the UK spec ones have a 33%/67% front/rear split - so this should be using this drive unlike the LHD 45%/55/% split) via Mercedes' newest gearbox, the 9G-Tronic. According to specs, this allows the GLC 250 a 0-100kmh time of 7.3seconds and a max speed of 222kmh. Pretty fast enough for most of us.

Equipment is pretty complete. It is a good thing that Mercedes Benz Malaysia chose to bring in something full specified this time instead of waiting till the end of the lifespan for some AMG versions. The Malaysian specced GLC 250 gets the sports suspension and the AMG Line interior & exterior package which includes a flat bottom sports type steering wheel, a bodykit and fat 20inch run flat tyres and wheels. It also gets loads of equipment from a 360degree surround camera with the park sensors, Garmin MAP PILOT, keyless go and a very nice sounding Burmeister audio system. There are lots more stuff. Just take a look at the specs in the picture below.

Anyway, this is a short drive experience review, so I shall only give my view on what I think about it after a spin along Jalan Tun Razak, the area surrounding Ampang Hilir and around Kampung Pandan. This is a mix of KL traffic, bad roads due to construction, short straights where we could try out its in gear acceleration and some corners here and there. Oh, and obviously no off-road drive experience ok.



First impressions is that the GLC 250 is an impressive car. Like the W205 C-class, the interior is stunning. Take the current W/V222 S-Class interior and just reduce it is size and you get the interior of the C-Class and the GLC-Class. It is constructed out of premium materials and almost everything is nice to touch. Buttons and toggles have a nice weight to it and does not feel too hollow or empty when you press it. The controls are laid out in the typical Mercedes fashion and once you are used to it, comes quite naturally. The best thing about the GLC, like the S-class and C-class is that the park brake is no longer that pedal just above the left foot rest with the release lever on the bottom right side of the dashboard. It is now electronically activated automatically or manually via a small button/lever where the park brake release is located.

The test vehicle did not have that funny Mercedes Benz scribble touchpad that one could use aside from the rotary knob located in the middle of the center console. Actually in the age of the Ipad, the infotainment screen should also be touch screen activated. Mercedes decided to use a scibble pad so that the hands are close to the controls instead of reaching the screen to touch it. After viewing some other systems like the one in the Tesla and also the one in the Volvo XC90, touchscreen should be an option. But aside from that, I don't mind using the rotary control knob as it is a familiar sight in most Mercedes Benz cars these days. The touchpad wasn't really missed as I am used to the layout of the infotainment system.But enough about that. As I mentioned, equipment levels are good. Lots of toys to play with once you get into this car. Maybe too many toys. Lots of electronics (but so does most of the cars in this price range) . Maybe too much of it as the driver's side surround camera seemed to have taken emergency leave. It wasn't an issue as it was only one side and the side closest to the person driving or reversing the GLC. Furthermore, the park sensors all work separately from the camera.

Driving the GLC 250

Firstly, do note the screen showing the car above. It is showing Sport + drive settling. This means that the engine throttle is in Sport (more throttle response, gears hold longer, shift faster), steering response is in Sport (faster, quicker steering), auto start-stop is off and the air-conditioning in Comfort. You can play around with the settings mentioned or leave it in Sport+, Comfort, Eco or your own settings. 

And once you drive the GLC the first thing that hits you is how car-like this SUV drives. The steering is nice and precise. Sharp even. You turn into a corner and the GLC just turns. The sports suspension works well in that most of the time the GLC rides comfortably on the 20inch wheels and tyres on the less than smooth surfaces surrounding Jalan Kampung Pandan/ Jalan Ampang Hilir. Bump absorption is good with no real loud thumps or thuds from the tyres. There was also very little body roll (with just enough to actually have a feel on what's going on) when you are cornering the GLC a bit faster than usual. There was only one time when we heard an odd sound from the rear when we really took a sharp corner fast and the road surface was bumpy. It must have been the rear spring settling back in its mount after some heavy bump and rebound action. Nothing really serious as the fun factor was quite high actually. But whatever the case, this is an SUV that can corner quite well.

What actually surprised me was that the ride quality on 20inch wheels and tyres and the fact that there was very little road noise, very little engine noise and also no noise from the transmission. The GLC is super refined which was a huge surprise. Definitely better than the Audi Q5 as well as the X3. In terms of refinement, this beats them flat. Mercedes have actually done a fantastic job sorting out the luxury in their cars these days. You get fantastic materials used, good looks inside and out as well as an impressively quiet cabin for its driver and passengers.

That new 9 speed 9G-Tronic gearbox is also a marked improvement over the old 7G-Tronic (which is still in use in the W205 C-Class and W212 E-Class cars sold in Malaysia). It works well in that the gear changes are smoother and faster. The old 7 G-Tronic is a tad bit lethargic in normal mode but this isn't. It is as good as the 8 speed ZF used in BMW and Jaguar these days. I think the 9G-Tronic in the GLC 250 it may actually be better than the some of the cars with the ZF box at low speeds.

Conclusion
I believe that the Mercedes Benz GLC 250 4Matic may be the best small premium SUV you can buy today at the price offered. At under RM330,000, it beats the heck out of the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3 in terms of refinement. This is a proper Mercedes Benz in terms of comfort and luxury. A proper luxury SUV in my opinion. The smaller Mercedes Benz GLA-class is totally entry level and cannot be considered as an option if you want true Mercedes Benz level of refinement.

In terms of styling, the GLC also scores over the BMW and the Audi mentioned above. The BMW I wouldn't like to recommend because I honestly think it isn't nicely styled with too long a bonnet and too short a rear as well as some funny surfacing work here and there. The Q5 is also a rounded blob with unimaginative styling. The Porsche Macan is similar in size, looks decently good and drives well but it costs a bomb. Yes, yes, yes. RM328,888 isn't exactly chicken feed, but it's still cheaper than a Macan.

 So the GLC 250 with its AMG styling and balanced looks is the small luxury SUV to get (in my opinion – which in this case is 100% correct. No buts about it.). Go buy one if you want a small premium SUV for use in the city. It's that good. Even after a short drive in it. .....But expect a lot of people to be buying it also.



MERCEDES GLC 250 4MATIC AMG Line

Price as Tested RM328,888 (w/o insurance)

Specification
Engine and performance
Cylinder arrangement/number
4 in-line
Displacement (cc)
1991
Rated output (kW [hp] at rpm)
– (155/5500)
Rated torque (Nm at rpm)
– (350/1200–4000)
Compression ratio
9.8: 1
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)
– (7.3)
Top speed (km/h)
– ( 222 )
Emission class
– (Euro 6)
– (yes)
Fuel and emissions
Tank capacity
66/7
Fuel consumption combined (l/100km)
– (7.1–6.5)
CO2 emissions (g/km) combined
– (166–152)
Cd value
0.32
Power transmission
Drive system
Permanent all-wheel drive
Transmissions
– (9G-TRONIC)
Automatic transmission ratios
5.50/ 3.33/ 2.31/ 1.66/ 1.21/ 1.00/ 0.86/ 0.72/ 0.60/ R1 4.93
Final drive transmission ratio
– (3.27)
Suspension and steering
Front axle
Multi-link
Rear axle
Multi-link
Suspension, front/rear
N/A
Front tyres/wheels
235/65 R 17 (as tested, 20inch AMG run flat 255/45 tyres)
Rear tyres/wheels
235/65 R 17 (as tested, 20inch AMG run flat 255/45 tyres)
Front brakes
Discs, vented
Rear brakes
Discs, vented
Quantity, dimensions & weights
Boot capacity (VDA) (I)
550–1.600
Turning circle (m)
11.80
Kerb weight/payload capacity (kg) [1]
– (1735/665)
Perm. GVW (kg)
– (2400)
Maximum roof load (kg)
75
Permitted towing capacity unbraked/braked (kg)
750/2.400







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