Luxury car maker Mercedes Benz has been working aggressively on expanding its SUV portfolio in India. Barely a few years after the GLA, a few months after the GLE and a few weeks after the GLS the German giant launched the GLC in the country. The car fills in the big gap between the affordable GLA and the more premium GLE. A new nomenclature now means that names of all Mercedes start with the letters GL. Having the letter C in its name simply means the car has a tough act to follow, merely looking at the success the latest generation of the C-Class sedan has seen. It’s been a tough journey in regaining the number one slot amongst the premium car makers in India, and it is the cars like the GLC that will keep the momentum going and ensure that the success story continues.
The GLC closely follows design cues of other SUVs like the GLE and GLA along with the C-Class. Of course it confuses you with its looks as it doesn’t look like a full blown SUV, but this is a shape that we’ve seen from other German luxury car makers as well, which means that it’s become pretty much acceptable with the buyer. Obviously the front reminds one of the C-Class that includes the front grille and the dual projector units. But things like the shape of the bonnet and the LEDs make the GLC look different from the sedan. The front bumper gets more protection and is designed to offer a higher angle if approach. The side boards and a lot of chrome add glamour to an otherwise usual design. The rear is where the car really stands apart when compared to its cousins. The sleek looking headlamps make the GLC look appealing and sporty and it is from this angle where the vehicle presents the prettiest picture. The chrome on the exhausts and bumper though give it away that this one is indeed a Mercedes.
When the new C class sedan came it impressed everyone simply because of the luxury and features the car came with. Many actually went to the extent of comparing the C class to the S class that’s how good it was. The good thing that most of that luxury has been carried forward on the GLC and everything is right up there when it comes to competition. Along with a panoramic sunroof the car also comes with an ambient lighting feature. There’s a 7 inch touch screen infotainment system that’s been seen in other cars from the Merc family as well. There’s a 360 degree parking camera which aids in situations more than one. Along with that there’s 20 CD stereo and a Garmin based navigation system. A lot of controls are given on the steering wheel as well as the center armrest. The GLC also scores well when it comes to interior space. This is largely because of the shape as well as due to the fact that the wheelbase is larger than the C-Class sedan. A boot space around 500 litres also augurs well for a car that aims to take care of multiple needs. The second row can be folded to get a space of whopping 1600 liters. The only eyesore is the spare wheel and clearly more thought could have been put behind storing it in a better way.
Increasingly what we’re seeing with premium cars is that they don’t come with a lot of engine options. Some come with just a Diesel, while others only have a petrol motor. The GLC comes in both. The Diesel is a more economical 2.1 litre engine gives around 170 PS but more fun to drive is the GLC 300 Petrol with a 1900 cc engine gives a lot more power of 245 PS. It is claimed to hit 100kmph from standstill in around 6.5 seconds while top speed is a high 222kmph. There are various driving modes the car comes with— Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and a customizable Individual mode. This means the car can be used differently in different driving situations. The engine is mated to a 9-speed gearbox which does its job really well but the motor really works in a much better way in say with the comfort mode than how it does with the sport mode. Yes we’re calling the petrol motor more fun to drive but that doesn’t make it the sportiest car in the segment. That honor probably still goes to the BMW X3.
Increasingly what we’re seeing with premium cars is that they don’t come with a lot of engine options. Some come with just a Diesel, while others only have a petrol motor.
Ride & Handling
Look at the GLC purely in terms of dimensions it doesn’t look like a true blue SUV somewhat looks like an estate. Now in terms of looks maybe a bit of a disadvantage, but the same shape works in its favour when it comes to dynamics. So the car handles well, around corners as well. And because the suspension is tuned towards the softer side, the car can easily take on the bad bumps and potholes. It’s a decent off roader as well has off-road modes and settings, including the fact that the ground clearance goes up by around 20 mms, so when you are in the mood, take the GLC off the road and it will try its best to not disappoint you. Safety as one expects is impressive and the list here includes parking assist, attention assist, adaptive brake lights, tyre-pressure monitoring system and 7 airbags.
Strangely the GLC has come to India as a CBU and that has made the car more expensive than expected. Rs. 50.9 lakh (ex-showroom) for the petrol version and Rs. 50.7 lakh (ex-showroom) for the diesel version will probably mean that taking on proven performers like BMW X3 and Audi Q5 isn’t going to be a piece of cake. Now who would’ve thought until a few years back that the SUV variant of the C-class would cost this much but what Mercedes is giving in that money is a lot of premiumness, features and comfort along with a great drive especially on the petrol variant.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars