► Mercedes-Benz GLC unveiled in full
► New one is bigger, priced from £34,950
► And it's coming to the UK in right-hand drive
Meet the new 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLC, Daimler's mid-sized crossover to rival the likes of the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Volvo XC60. It's larger than its predecessor, packed with the latest group technology including air suspension unique in this class and there's a plug-in hybrid version boasting CO2 emissions as low as 60g/km.
The GLK-replacing SUV was unveiled at an event in Stuttgart, where engineers spelled out to CAR the secrets behind the new, larger 4x4 which is based heavily on C-class running gear.
And the good news is, this one is finally crossing the Channel and going on sale in the UK in right-hand drive in October 2015, priced from £34,950. Earlier iterations of the GLK couldn't accommodate a steering wheel swap without expensive re-engineering to the 4wd system - so it was never sold here.
Mercedes GLC: at a glance
This SUV is considerably bigger than the car it replaces, liberating more space for passengers and their luggage. At 4656mm long and 1890mm wide, it is but a millimetre away from the target BMW X3's footprint. Mercedes claims the larger package boasts 57mm more rear legroom and front elbow room, while the boot inflates to a capacious 580 litres (or 1600 with the rear seats folded down). We have sat in the back and can confirm it is a very roomy package.
Yet, as is the modern fashion, despite the extra inches, the new 2016-model-year GLC is in fact lighter than the GLK to the tune of 80kg. That's achieved mostly through a lighter body, which saves 50 kilos thanks to more widespread use of aluminium.
And all that room is nicely dressed, as is the Mercedes fashion. If you like the C-class interior - and we do - you'll feel comfortable in a GLC, with its classy materials, modern design and Comand widescreen-dominated centre console. The exterior design is much less boxy than the 2008 GLK; design chief Gorden Wagener told CAR his aim was to avoid matrioshka doll styling and imbue each of his SUVs with a different character.
The engine line-up
At launch, all GLCs will be powered by four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. No six-cylinder engines are available yet, although we understand they will follow in 2016 once they have premiered in the new E-class. Of particular interest is the GLC 350e 4Matic plug-in hybrid, capable of 146mph and 0-62mph in 5.9sec matched to a more puritanical 21-mile zero-emissions electric range and 60g/km of CO2. These modern Merc hybrids are practically alive, a haptic accelerator pedal pulsing to encourage more saintly driving.
The full line-up confirmed at launch includes:
- GLC 220d 4Matic 168bhp, 8.3sec 0-62mph, 56mpg, from 129g/km CO2
- GLC 250d 4Matic 201bhp, 7.6sec 0-62mph, 56mpg, from 129g/km CO2
- GLC 250 4Matic 208bhp, 7.3sec 0-62mph, 43mpg, from 143g/km CO2 (Continent only)
Click here for an explanation of Mercedes' new nomenclature; the GL bit denotes gelandewagen (German for cross-country vehicle) and C means it's linked to the C-class family - in the same way that the GLA compound means the smaller SUV is attached to the A-class range. Teutonic logic, see?
Air suspension and other tech tricks
Daimler has fitted air suspension as an option across the GLC range; it's expected to cost around £1500 and is unique in this class. They're similar to the air springs fitted to the S-class, but tuned here for off-road ability. When combined with an off-road package, the car will rise up for extra ground clearance or lower for more dynamic driving.
And there's a switch in the boot that lets you sink the car down lower to the tarmac for loading and unloading (especially easy thanks to a completely flat boot floor and no load lip).
This car is based on the chassis architecture of the C- and E-class saloons, so 4Matic all-wheel drive is standard at launch; technical chief Thomas Weber told CAR it was entirely feasible - for which read, likely - that cheaper, cleaner rear-wheel drive models will be added later in the lifecycle. Many of the toys and gadgets available on the C and E are available, including LED headlamps, auto brake and niceties such as traffic sign reading.
Will there be a sporty GLC?
The exciting news is there will be a GLC Coupe in the pipeline; Daimler showed a sleeker, BMW X4-rivalling version at the 2015 Shanghai motor show and we understand the GLC will follow its GLE big brother with a more sporting cross-coupe mash-up in 2016.
And if you can't wait for a GLC Coupe, then rest assured there will be an barmy AMG version. Although not yet confirmed, CAR understands a GLC AMG is a formality, although it is unclear at this stage whether it'll sport the C63's 4.0-litre turbocharged V8 or the A45's high-output 2.0-litre. Either way, with between 350-500bhp, it could make for one very sporty utility vehicle indeed.
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