This is a very important model for Mercedes and enters quite a crowded sector. Its rivals include the Alfa Stelvio, BMW X3, Audi Q5, Porsche Macan, Jaguar F-Pace and the Discovery Sport. The GLC will steal sales from all of them.
There are two choices of body styles; the 5-door SUV, which l have, and the coupé liftback. The latter is not the prettiest car l have ever seen and the rear visibility is appalling. There is also a great choice of power plants with the V8 GLC 63 and the V6 GLC 43, and both are highly entertaining. But l will focus on the 5-door SUV which, l am sure, will be the big seller.
It is quite a good-looking car from just about every angle and with four-wheel drive and an auto box as standard, it’s a great start. Inside, all is well and very Mercedes and that is to say really well put together. There’s not a rattle or squeak to be heard, and the MBUX infotainment system has a world-class voice-assistant and a touch iPad and touch screen. For me, the jury is out on touchscreens; l like them for their ease of use but some are just too fiddly. This one sits bang in the middle of that range. The entry-level GLC 200d kicks off the range and you can specify Sport or AMG, and there are a vast array of variations, none of which l have space nor the patience to list.
I have the 220d, giving 62mph in around 8.3 seconds and it has all the poke you need. It is pleasingly solid on the road, as you would expect, and gives you the confidence to push it hard and test the limit. The 9-speed auto box is smooth and refined, the ride is very good, though if you opt for the 20” wheels, you should also opt for the air suspension – unless you have a very good relationship with your dentist! Don’t – the standard wheels are all you need.
The clever trick here is that the GLC feels like a car and not a lumbering SUV, and this is in part due to it being built on the same platform as the C-Class estate. The car’s body is a mix of aluminium and high-strength steel, and features structural reinforcements normally only seen on convertibles. The aerodynamics are class-leading with a drag coefficient of just 0.31.
The interior is a very nice place to be with great seats, plenty of reach on the steering wheel, with knobs and dials all in the right place. I could do without the fake wood but it seems l am alone as it bothered no-one else l pointed it out to. It is also the first car in years that does not have any USB ports! The heated seats controls are on the door card rather than buried amongst the array of buttons and that really makes a difference if, like me, you love heated seats and want them on fast. Rear passengers will welcome the leg room and it is light and airy back there and the boot space equals the X3 and Q5 at 1600 litres.
In summary, this is a very attractive, well put together SUV that will worry the competition no end and cause them to up their game.
Model tested: GLC 220d 4Matic
Speed: 0-60mph 8.3 seconds
Economy: 47.9 mpg combined
Price from: £40,300