The hunt for the missing link is over; that’s the hope of the folk at Mercedes-Benz Australia. With sales of mid-size luxury SUVs roaring like a summer bush blaze, the German auto giant had, for some time, been missing in action due to the lack of a right-hand drive model Down Under.

Now the Mercedes GLC has landed and it was hard to take the smiles off the faces of Aussie execs at the recent launch of the SUV, for it’s not been achieved without some serious chivvying at Benz HQ in Frankfurt.

The right-hook re-engineering was down to some persistent lobbying by right-hand drive markets, Australia, Britain and Japan, according to Horst von Sanden, Sanden, CEO Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific and Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

On offer are high-tech driver assistance systems, good fuel efficiency and a new four-speed automatic transmission. Dynamic Select transmission modes, 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive and optional multi-chamber air suspension increase ride comfort and add to the vehicle’s agility on a range of surfaces.

An extension of the Mercedes C-Class family, the GLC range consists of three models, two powered by the same 2.1-litre turbo-diesel engine, the third a 2.0-litre petrol motor.


The 220d puts out 125 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque. The phrase ‘entry-level’ belies its high standard of equipment: 19-inch wheels, keyless start, power tailgate, LED Intelligent lighting, Garmin Map Pilot navigation with touchpad, powered front seats, and 360 degree camera. It comes onto the market at $64,500, plus on-road costs.

The new GLC 250 2.0-litre petrol produces 155 kW, and 350 Nm of torque from 1200 rpm. It accelerates the GLC from zero to 100 km/h in just 7.3 seconds. Cost is $67,900. The GLC 250d is powered by the 2.1-litre turbo-diesel engine serving up 150 kW and 500 Nm.

These vehicles have 20-inch wheels, a Keyless-Go package, leather upholstery, privacy glass and Driver Assistance Package Plus, which features Distronic Plus cruise control with Steering Assist, Pre-Safe Brake and Pre-Safe Plus, Bas Plus with Cross Traffic Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist.

Nine airbags are fitted across the board in case all the electronic safety systems still can’t handle the situation.

In character the GLC is more ‘sport’ than ‘utility’ with its dynamic looks and slippery drag co-efficient of Cd 0.31. The theme carries on into the cabin with quality materials put together with craftsman-like precision.


Controls will be familiar to Mercedes owners, while instrumentation is uncluttered and its information quickly and easily readable while driving. The upper models feature a head-up display that we feel is one of the best and most informative around.

Outstanding aerodynamics and lightweight design help the new GLC models to post reductions of up to 19 per cent in fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions compares well with the previous generation Mercedes-Benz GLK. Performance has been perked up too.

Steel springs and a variable damping system is standard, while the Merc GLC offers the option of fitting a multi-chamber air suspension and electronically controlled, continuously adjustable damping.

This Air Body Control suspension combines excellent driving stability and sporty agility with optimum comfort and outstanding off-road capabilities, for example when the GLC is equipped with the Off-Road Engineering package.

Air Body Control raises the driving level by up to 50 mm and provides soft basic tuning. On the bitumen the system also includes reduced rolling during cornering, automatic levelling and lowering of the load compartment sill for loading and unloading convenience.

As with other Mercs, Dynamic Select handling control system with five driving programs is standard. In addition to the Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual settings, the GLC can also be equipped with the Off-Road Engineering package.

This comprises up to five programs. ‘Slippery’ and four off-road programs for mild off-road terrain such as gravel or sand tracks. ‘Incline’ boosts aids climbing ability on steep ramps or long, slow uphill stretches.

The Off-Road Engineering package also features a ‘Rocking Assist’ program in which the driving level is raised by 50 mm and the wheel-slip control thresholds are increased so as to enable the GLC to work its way free.

The fourth off-road program, ‘Trailer’, is designed for towing off-road and facilitates moving off on wet grassland, for example. The package also includes a Gemtex under-ride guard, which takes the stress out of heavy ground contact. There is Downhill Speed Regulation that maintains a pre-set speed on steep downhill runs.

On brief on-road drives in the three models on launch, the entry-level 220d, showed itself to be a bit lacking in low-down torque, the 250d took off well and was more responsive to the power pedal.

However, the pick of the bunch was the 250 petrol which came up with the smoothest, quietest, most comfortable ride of all. Off road could see the trio shuffled, but how many buyers will go serious bush bashing in such a spiffy SUV?


GLC 220d 4Matic: $64,500
GLC 250 4Matic: $67,900
GLC 250d 4Matic: $69,900
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Mercedes-Benz dealer for drive-away prices.

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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