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Benz GLC SUV to launch at $64,500

Long-awaited Mercedes GLC SUV to come with 9sp auto, AWD, hot versions to follow

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Mercedes-Benz logo17 Jul 2015

By TIM ROBSON

UPDATED: 20/07/15MERCEDES-BENZ will finally enter the local premium mid-size SUV stoush later this year, throwing down a solidly specced trio of GLC wagons to take on Audi’s Q5 and BMW’s X3.

Priced from $64,500 plus on-road costs for the GLC220d, all three launch variants will feature Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system and a nine-speed automatic transmission as standard.

The other two variants at this stage include the GLC250 from $67,900 and the GLC250d from $69,900.

It drops into the Australian market above Audi’s entry-level Q5 diesel, which sells for $62,600, and just below BMW’s 2.0 XDrive20d at $64,700. The recently released Land Rover Discovery Sport, meanwhile, starts at $53,300 for a TD4 SE, while the five-door Range Rover Evoque Pure AWD diesel is $53,395.

Mercedes Benz Australia/Pacific (MBAP) missed out on the last iteration of C-Class-based SUV (the GLK) because of a lack of right-hand-drive production.

The car has sold 650,000 units since 2008, making it Mercedes-Benz’s best-performing SUV.

Daimler AG board member and head of Mercedes-Benz research and development Thomas Weber joked that the company had listened to Australian journalists to build the car in right-hand drive.

“I listen very often to you guys coming from Australia and I know, right-hand drive, we made it,” he said. “It's now available, and for the colleagues from Great Britain, a diesel is available. Hopefully with that everything is prepared for big market success.”

MBAP public relations and product communications manager Jerry Stamoulis suggested that the GLC will bring a younger demographic of buyer to the three-pointed star, but shied away from the notion that the GLC may topple the company’s number-one seller, the C-Class.

“We don't talk volumes, but we know it will do well because of the spec and the price,” said Mr Stamoulis at the vehicle's first media drive in Switzerland this week. “But to get close to C-Class, I think might be pushing it a bit far at least at this stage. (But) I wouldn't have predicted the CLA would be our second-biggest seller, either.”

The C-Class has found 4857 homes in Australia this year to the end of June, with the CLA mid-size four-door coupe adding a further 1690 units to Benz's tally.

A pair of diesels and a single petrol will be the first cars down the line globally, with other variants to roll out throughout 2016. Mr Stamoulis said he believes the base diesel will lead the sales charge, before the expected arrival of a more powerful GLC450 in 2016.

“We predict 220 will be probably 50 per cent, and the other 50 per cent made up of the 250s,” he said. “That will quickly change when the 450 arrives we might see the 250s and the 450s take up a greater footprint.”

With more variants on the cards, Mr Stamoulis would not confirm what others might be offered in the Australian market, but he said that the company was considering all variants on offer.

“We're investigating every engine option and variants like we always do. At this stage, there isn't any information about what other engines are available.

But yes, it (additional models) could work. But there's no firm plan at all just something we're investigating.”

So far this year, Audi has moved 2142 examples of its ageing Q5 (up 32 per cent year on year), which is set to be replaced in 2016. BMW, meanwhile, has sold 1644 X3s in the same period, a rise of 16 per cent over the same period in 2014.

The local range kicks off with the 220d, a 2.1-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel making 125kW and 400Nm of torque. It’s backed by Merc’s nine-speed automatic transmission, sending power to all four wheels via the brand’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive set-up.

The 220d will execute the 0-100km/h sprint in 8.3 seconds and top out at 210km/h.

Based on 19-inch rims, other standard kit for the Australian market includes keyless start, electric tailgate, LED headlights and tail-lights, Garmin-based satellite navigation, electric front seats and a 360-degree camera.

A five-mode Dynamic Select Mode button, collision prevention assist, attention assist, adapative braking, 17-inch rims, leather-wrapped steering wheel, two-zone climate control air-conditioning, 7.0-inch touchscreen with digital radio, Bluetooth and iPod compatibility, two USBs in the centre armrest, radar cruise control, idle stop and dynamic curve assist are also standard.

Australian-spec cars will also come standard with alloy side running boards and roof rails, while rims of up to 20 inches in diameter can be optioned.

Additional safety equipment includes Isofix seat mounts with upper tether brackets, an emergency call system, active pedestrian safety and seven airbags.

The 250d uses the same engine but in a higher state of tune, making 150kW and 500Nm, while the petrol-powered 250 runs a 2.0-litre turbocharged inline four that produces 155kW and 350Nm. The 250d can complete the 0-100km/h dash in 7.6 seconds and will do a top speed of 223km/h, while the petrol version can sprint to 100km/h from rest in 7.3 seconds and hit the same top speed.

The 220d uses 5.5 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres based on European figures, while the 250d is rated at the same figure. The 250 petrol uses up to 7.1L/100km. Both diesel cars emit 169 grams of CO2 per kilometre, while the petrol variant issues 180g/km.

The pair of 250s step up in standard specifications, and include 20-inch rims, a smartkey package, leather trim, tinted glass and Mercedes-Benz’s Driver Assistance Package Plus.

Based on the C-Class’s MRA (Modular Rear Architecture) platform, the wagon-based GLC sits 4656mm long on a wheelbase of 2873mm, while standing 1639mm tall and 1890mm wide. Its design is much more sedate and low-key than its smaller stablemates such as the CLA, and its boxy dimensions allow for more interior room.

Mercedes claims to have saved 70kg of weight on average over the previous-generation car, with 50kg in the bodyshell alone. A lot of effort has gone into the minimisation of noise, vibration and harshness – the body-in-white is sprayed with acoustic material, for example – while interior space is improved over the old car.

Alloy panels adorn the roof, front fenders and bonnet, while aluminium is used for the construction of the front end crash boxes, headlight frames, front strut consoles, rear cross members and shock boxes.

The diesels weigh 1845kg at the curb, while the petrol variant weighs 1735kg.

The five-seat GLC sports button-operated flip-down rear seats, and it can carry 550 litres of gear with the seats up and 1600 with the seats laid flat. A foot-operated tailgate lifter is also available on the two 250 variants.

Chassis-wise, steel springs and adaptive dampers are fitted as standard, with a four-link front end and a five-link rear arrangement. Many parts of the suspension system are also made of aluminium, including the rear hub carriers, which save 5kg of weight over the previous design.

An airbag arrangement, known as Air Body Control, is available as a $2450 option. As with the upcoming GLE (formerly the ML-Class), an off-road pack is also available for $7000, but it requires the fitment of the optional air spring/adaptive damper combination.

The off-road pack gives the GLC the ability to raise its suspension by 50mm (in addition to the 20mm of extra ride height gained by fitting the pack), and adds a five-mode terrain switch that incorporates hill-descent, rocking assist and slippery surface modes. It also adds underbody protection panels to the GLC’s chassis.

A sports suspension pack can be ordered in conjunction with an AMG Exterior Line package, which offers firmer steel springs and a lower ride height.

The drivetrain has been modified so that the nine-speed transmission can be used in an all-wheel-drive application by the addition of a separate transfer case module. Whereas two versions of the transmission were required for rear- and front-wheel applications, the same gearbox can now be used for both jobs as required.

In terms of chassis safety systems, the GLC is comprehensively equipped.

Collision Prevention Assist Plus, Crosswind Assist, Headlamp Assist and driver fatigue alerts are standard across all three variants.

The pair of 250 models also get Distronic Plus, Steering Assist, Stop&Go traffic assist, cross-traffic detection, blind-spot assist, lane-keeping assist and pre-collision preparation assist.

These systems can combine to allow the car to steer itself for brief periods at speeds of up to 200km/h.

Mercedes-Benz GLC 4Matic pricing*
GLC220d (a)$64,500
GLC250 (a)$67,900
GLC250d (a)$69,900
*Excludes on-road costs

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