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Geneva show: Mercedes gives GLC a heart transplant

New four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines to kick-off revamped Benz GLC

Mercedes-Benz logo28 Feb 2019

MERCEDES-BENZ has transplanted its latest four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines from its sedans into its top-selling GLC SUV as part of a mid-model facelift that will debut at the Geneva motor show on March 5 ahead of its third-quarter launch in Australia.
 
Along with a sportier look, more driver-assist technologies and an improved infotainment system, the refreshed GLC gets the latest M264 petrol engine in two sizes, 1.5 litre and 2.0 litre, along with the OM654 2.0-litre diesel in three outputs – 120kW, 143kW and 180kW.
 
The petrol variants also get a belt-driven starter-generator that can boost power by up to 10kW and 150Nm.
 
The upgrade, which includes items such as smaller LED headlights and a bolder, chrome-trimmed front fascia, is crucial for the model that is the best-selling luxury SUV in Australia.
 
The entry level rear-wheel-drive GLC 200 has been dropped – at least for now – with the latest GLC 200 getting 4Matic all-wheel-drive as standard, along with the C-Class’s new 1.5-litre turbo petrol engine producing 145kW of power and 280Nm of torque – 10kW more and 20Nm less that the 2.0-litre engine it replaces.
 
Fuel consumption is rated as 7.1 litres per 100km on the combined test cycle, which marginally better than the 7.2l/100km of the current model.
 
The current GLC 250 with its 155kW/350Nm engine makes way for the 2.0-litre GLC 300 with 190kW and 370Nm. 
 
As mentioned, additional power is provided by a 48-volt electric starter-generator that gives the engine a mild-hybrid boost via a belt drive. The motor becomes a generator under braking, recouping energy.
 
The engine and motor can also turn off and disconnect from the powertrain in sailing mode, allowing the vehicle to coast without engine braking, thus improving fuel economy.
 
The diesels miss out on the fancy electric-boost system, but they get the latest all-aluminium engine that debuted in the E-Class in 2016.
 
The base 200d 4Matic comes with 120kW/360Nm and fuel economy of 5.2L/100km.
 
Stepping up the range, the current two-wheel-drive 130kW/350Nm 2.1-litre 220d is replaced by a 143kW/400Nm 220d 4Matic that also uses about 5.2L/100km of fuel – 0.4l/100km better than before.
 
The top diesel – for now, at least – is the 180kW/500Nm 300d that Benz suggests drinks 5.8L/100km. This replaces the 150kW/500Nm 250d, and while performance is up, the fuel economy is the same.
 
All engines are hooked up to a nine-speed automatic transmission and all drive all four wheels through Mercedes’ 4Matic system. However, a two-wheel-drive version might make a reappearance later in the life of this revised model.
 
Mercedes promises it will have more news on other powertrains in the range. A plug-in hybrid version would seem a likely addition.
 
The suspension has been upgraded to Mercedes Dynamic Body Control system that employs variable dampers to control each wheel individually according to the road and driving conditions.
 
The GLC gains new driver-assist technologies that include features such as advanced cruise control that can automatically slow the vehicle when approaching a roundabout, tight bends, toll gates or a traffic jam and similar obstructions.
 
The system can swerve to avoid a crash, and move out of the traffic lane in heavy traffic to create what Mercedes calls an emergency corridor at under 60km/h.
 
An active exit warning function is designed to stop “dooring” of cyclists by alerting the driver to approaching traffic from behind, while a trailer reversing assist system is optional.
 
The infotainment system can be controlled no fewer than five ways – by touching the centre screen, by pressing buttons on the steering wheel, by using a touch pad on the centre console, by gesture and by voice control.
 
Voice control can be triggered by holding a button on the steering wheel or by simply using the “hey Mercedes” command that has been introduced on other Mercedes models recently.
 
The voice command system can now be instructed to read out text messages.
 
Last year, Mercedes-Benz sold 5605 GLC wagons in Australia, up 36.4 per cent on the previous year. As well, the company shifted 994 GLC coupes, for a total 6599 GLCs.
 
This put Mercedes ahead of arch rival BMW whose X3 and X4 twins scored a combined 6244 sales. 
 
The Australian GLC line-up and pricing will be announced closer to launch in the third quarter.

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