This is the Mercedes-Benz GLC, arguably one of the company’s most important new model launches in years.
Arriving in Australia on December 1 of this year, it will take on established medium SUV players such as the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. Mercedes is confident it can outsell them both.
Priced from $64,500, the GLA sits in line with these German rivals, though in atypical fashion the entry variant is powered by a diesel engine.
There will be three variants available at launch — the 220d and 250d diesels, and 250 petrol. All get a standard permanent AWD and a nine-speed automatic transmission.
The GLC is based on the C-Class, and it shares the car’s cut-above fit-and-finish and uncluttered layout. The only potential bugbear is that floating infotainment screen that isn’t to all tastes
All Australian versions will come loaded with equipment, with one highlight being the standard around-view camera.
Space and comfort in the rear is outstanding for the class. There’s good headroom — even with a sunroof — and plenty of under-thigh support. You also get rear vents and temperature controls.
At 580 litres expanding to 1600L with the seats folded flat, cargo space in bang-on for the class. These dimensions are 90L higher than the C-Class Estate.
You also get an electric opening and closing tailgate and even a nifty electric folding towball.
On road, the GLC feels like a higher-riding C-Class. Funny that. It’s composed and quiet, with commendable ride compliance on its large 19- and 20-inch wheels, especially when the driving mode is set to comfort.
There’s some pitch through corners, and the steering is light and lacking a little feel-and-feedback — though the chassis feels well balanced. Set the mode to Sport or Sport + and the GLC sits flatter mid-corners, and the throttle response gets sharper.
The pick of the engines is the smooth and refined petrol, though Mercedes reckons the entry level 400Nm 220d will be the top-seller. It’s a refined and frugal engine, and not noticeably slower than the 500Nm 250d range-topper.
The GLC can be optioned with a special Off Road package in tandem with air suspension. There won’t be many takers, though those who do will get a range of clever automated assistance programs, a Rocking Mode that increases ground clearance, as you can see in action here.
All told, the long overdue GLC is exactly what you might expect, given its C-Class origins. It’s a refined and classy medium SUV that puts the X3 and Q5 on notice.
We’ll give you a more detailed review once it arrives in Australia in December, but perhaps hold off buying that X3 or Q5 until you’ve had a closer look yourself.