- Max Speed
GLC 300e 4Matic… can I get you to you decode that?
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin. The GLC is Mercedes' lower-middle-sized crossover. It's also available as a coupe but we're testing the normal one. The 300 doesn't mean the engine size; it's a two-litre. But the idea is it has the power of three… ish.
The 'e' bit means it's a petrol-engined plug-in hybrid. Again, Mercedes gives you choice here – you can also have a 'de' which isn't in French (well is it is) but in this context is a diesel-engined PHEV. Finally the 4Matic bit, which is four-wheel-drive, standard with the hybrids.
That's a small engine for a biggish car.
Yes but the 211bhp of combustion power is joined by an electric motor for a system total of 320bhp. This is the type of hybrid where the e-motor and engine both run through the automatic gearbox.
Is it realistic to operate it as an electric car for moseying about?
The battery is 13.5kWh, enough for 26 miles of range provided you keep to the slowish driving style of the WLTP tester. It will accelerate well enough for town driving. You can just eke it up to dual-carriageway speed in full-electric mode too, but that's a great way to crush range. Unless you have an eggshell between your foot and the throttle, the engine will start at 70-ish speed anyway.
But yes, gentle suburban running in electric mode is reasonable, and peaceful. Even though the motor drives through the gearbox, you seldom feel the shifts.
Sounds OK. And does it also work as a 320bhp crossover?
The 0-62mph time is a lively 5.7 seconds. That doesn't mean pickup is always super-snappy, mind. If you've been running gently and the engine's resting, it takes a deep breath to awaken, drop a gear or two, get on boost and start pulling. But it's smooth as it goes through that palaver, and you can pre-empt it with a tap of the minus paddle.
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The engine's a little tinkly in sound, but the overall delivery is properly impressive – well-enough integrated that if you started listening to the stereo you'd forget you're in anything beyond a quiet and brisk all-petrol car.
It'll tow two tonnes, which shows serious intent.
And the brake pedal is also pretty progressive, which you can never take for granted in cars where you've a motor and it's mixing with electric regeneration.
Ah regeneration and all that hybrid jiggery-pokery. Is it economical?
I got 40mpg on a 40 mile trip of really pretty vigorous driving. You'd easily get 60mpg most days for a trip of that length, going from full to empty battery. The official numbers are 117mpg and 59/km. So you don't fall below the 50g/km tax threshold.
If you really want to swerve BIK tax or need better cruising economy once the battery is flat, there's also a GLC 300 de, which has the same hybrid system linked to a diesel engine. I tried this in the bigger GLE 300 de and sadly its operation is generally clunkier. Beware.
OK enough of the powertrain. What's the rest of the GLC like?
Really rather excellent. It's compact and subtle enough not to offend every bystander, but inside is more than roomy enough for a grown-up crew. It's actually bigger than the original M-class, btw.
It's solid and quiet. It's reassuringly Mercedes, not in that brash fashion some new Mercedes lean towards, but with the true dignity of the Untertürkheim aristocracy.
The only flashy bit is that it's now acquired Mercedes' current-generation user interface. It does all manner of clever stuff, but you've got to get past the infuriatingly oversensitive touchpads on the steering wheel spokes.
The chassis is built for comfort not sportiness, with a nicely absorbent ride, and no particular agility. But you can still hustle it and it stays on your side. Mind you, that needs an interesting road. Normally, the GLC doesn't want you to get involved and doesn't encourage it.
And yet oddly, the full driver assist package isn't available on the hybrid. But because it's so stable and smooth, just DIY – drive it yourself – and it's no effort at all.