LIVING WITH A MERCEDES-BENZ GLC MAKES AN INTERESTING SUMMER EXPERIMENT
They are turning into firm favourites with Kiwi buyers — be it small crossovers or large SUVS — and this year will see every major car company have at least one in their fleet.
Last year the SUV segment accounted for 34 per cent of new vehicle sales and one brand, Mercedes-Benz, is finding its recently launched mid-sized GLC is a hit with the Kiwi customers.
There is even one expert opinion that in the next few years, the GLC will be Mercedes-Benz’ top vehicle worldwide, outselling the C-Class sedan. Having seen the dominance of the C-Class in Europe and even in Australia, I’d question that but as I have the opportunity to live with a GLC for three months, maybe my opinion will change.
Usually, motoring writers are given test vehicles to evaluate for seven days, maximum, and at publications like Driven, we are sometimes testing two to three cars in a week when there is an avalanche of new vehicle launches.
That means a lot of driving and a lot of evaluations. But what is it like to live with a vehicle for a long period of time?
I’ve been lent the GLC for summer, with the opportunity to see how it adapts to my lifestyle and family.
Launched last September, there are three models in the range: two diesel versions, the 2.1-litre 220d (with 125kW of power and 400Nm of torque) and the 150kW/500Nm 250d; plus my vehicle, the 250 petrol with a 2-litre, four cylinder turbocharged engine, producing 155kW/350Nm.
Prices start from $89,900 for the 220d while the petrol has the price tag of $94,900.
My long-term loaner was specced up to include a $990 black metallic paint; the $2990 Command Package (including the Burmester surround sound system) and the $3900 Vision package (with a panoramic glass sunroof), giving it a total cost of $102,870.
The GLC sits on 20in, which helps gives it a strong presence on the road, and has Mercedes-Benz’s 4Matic permanent all-wheel-drive system, paired with the nine-speed auto transmission.
Over the next few months I’ll be bringing you my evaluation of the new member of my family as it copes with my daily commute, weekends away — and those weekends that are most familiar to many of us: taking garden debris to the refuse centre; tackling that messy garage; and what seems like a compulsory trip every weekend to DIY stores.
Based on the C-Class, and slightly shorter that the estate, the GLC is a stylish addition to luxury, competing with Audi’s Q5, BMW’s X3 and soon to be joined by Jaguar’s F-Pace — the last of the major car companies to add a SUV to their lineup.
One of the bonuses of living with the vehicle for more than seven days is seeing whether the initial niggles remain or, as the car brand staffers tell us, “you just need to get used to it”.
With me and Mercedes test vehicles, that niggle has always been the gear stalk on the right of the steering wheel.
As I’m driving European, Japanese and Korean cars, it can take a few minutes to remember which side the indicator is, so a few times when I’ve been in Mercedes vehicles I’ve gone to indicate, only to find that I’ve put the car in neutral.
I’ve whinged about it in print. I’ve whinged about the gear stalk to Mercedes.
Then I lived with the Mercedes for more than a week. And damn it, I was wrong, that gear stalk is great.
It makes reversing so quick as you don’t need to move your hand from the steering wheel to change gears, instead you just flick the stalk.
●Follow us and our long-term Mercedes GLC at Driven.co.nz