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The first Mercedes-Benz GLC has been spied testing under moderate disguise ahead of its likely global premiere in Frankfurt this September — and for the first time we can show you a rendering of what to expect when the covers come off.

Mercedes’ newly-named replacement for the GLK — which, vitally, will be made in right-hand-drive form this time and come to Australia — will be a rival to the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. As the GLC name suggests, it will share much of its architecture and powertrain tech with the all-new C-Class.

This means new engines, revised, lighter underpinnings, and further technological and safety advances over the GLK. In addition, previous spy images show a cabin layout similar to the C-Class, which must have Audi and BMW worried.

The arrival of the GLC in 2016 will plug perhaps the biggest gap in the Mercedes-Benz Australia range.

Mercedes GLC Plug-in 11

Much to its frustration, at present it has no answer to the Q5 and X3 and is losing valuable sales, but the incremental volume it stands to gain is obvious.

Mercedes-Benz was the dominant luxury player in Australia last year with 31,895 sales (BMW had 22,722 and Audi had 19,227), but had zero sales in the SUV Medium > $60K segment. Audi managed to sell 3432 Q5s — it was the brand’s second top-seller after the A3 — and BMW sold 3348 X3/X4 models.

It’s clear from the spy images, and thus the renderings, that the GLC will sport the clean, uncomplicated lines venerated by Mercedes’ design chief Gorden Wagener.

Mercedes GLC Plug-in 51

One interesting aspect of the GLC snapped here undergoing winter testing, is an extra fuel cap, a telltale sign that it is in fact a plug-in hybrid. Mercedes-Benz will offer 10 PHEVS by 2017 across its passenger and SUV line-up, remember.

Expect this to become the GLC350 PHEV and use the same drivetrain as the new C350 PHEV. This means a 155kW/350Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine teamed with a 60kW/340Nm electric motor. Combined, the pair makes up to 205kW/600Nm in total system output.

Click the Photos tab for more images. 




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