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The Top Gear car review: Mercedes-Benz GLC
What is it like on the road?
For this review, we’re looking at the five-door SUV GLC, not the supposedly sportier coupe and not the actually sportier AMG versions. This is just for the mainstream, upright, everyday versions. And you know what? They’re the best of the bunch. Once you accept the inescapable fact that this taller, heavier C-class estate is never going to handle with like, well, a sporty Germanic estate, then life in the GLC is a pleasant if unmemorable affair. It steers accurately, the pedal weights are consistent but not tiring on a long trip, and with adaptive suspension across the range, it rides acceptably well for a car in this class. It’s not pillowy, not super-absorbent, but it’s fine. Though beware the bigger rims eating into your precious tyre sidewall and making the ride that bit more fidgety.
The new 220d diesel is a fine engine. It’s a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel that replaces a much older, rattlier, generally unpleasant 2.1-litre unit, and generates 191bhp. You can get a 242bhp version of the same engine badged as a GLC 300d, but when the cheaper 220d does 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds, wants little for in-gear pace and will actually beat its claimed 40.9mpg economy score with ease in out-of-town driving, you’d rarely want for the extra poke.
Much as diesel torque and range suits a car like the GLC, the tide has turned so comprehensively against the black pump that petrol models may well overtake the sales of their once unsurmountable diesel counterparts. Fickle bunch, aren’t we? Anyway, if that sounds like your way of thinking then you’ll be pleased to learn that the GLC 300 is a surprisingly enjoyable package, imbuing the GLC with some schporty smarts without overawing the placid chassis.
We’ve tried the GLC 300, which develops 255bhp, with a 14bhp leg-up from an ‘EQ Boost’ electric motor helping mask turbo lag and smooth out engine stop-start. The GLC 300 outpunches the GLC 200 by some 60bhp and if you can tolerate the rather synthesized engine note and economy cresting at 30mpg, it will keep some junior hot hatches honest in a straight line. Much as it’s incongruously entertaining to plumb such a keen engine into a sensible straight-faced SUV, our choice would be the GLC 220d. If you’re buying on PCP as the majority of customers will, you’re insulated from the devaluing of diesels and might end up that bit smugger when you’re stopping half as often as a petrol equivalent to fill the tank.
Later in 2019 there’ll be a plug-in hybrid GLC 350e. Expect claimed electric range of around 30 miles – enough for most commutes, without the spectre of range anxiety gnawing away at those longer dries with the family.