Mercedes-Benz’s appetite for controversial design shows no sign of abating, as this exclusive image of its new junior SUV — the GLC, as Stuttgart insiders call it — clearly reveals.
Set to go on sale in the UK in 2013, the new BMW X1 rival forms part of an impressive range of new models set to hail from the German car maker’s flexible new MFA (modular front architecture) platform.
Those models will also include replacements for today’s second-generation A-class and first-generation B-class, together with a new price-leading four-door coupé-like saloon that’s set to be badged CLC and potentially an estate, called CLT.
Styled at Mercedes’ main Sindelfingen studio in Germany, the GLC eschews the rugged look of the larger GLK for a highly contemporary design that adopts ideas first aired on the BlueZero concept, but on a more defined two-box body.
Its prominent styling features include Mercedes’ new, softer grille treatment, angular headlamps, bulbous wheel arches, scalpel-sharp feature lines down its flanks, a kicked-up waistline and a hatchback-like rear end.
The overall appearance, with its taut surfacing and heavy creases, is shared with the third-generation A-class and second-generation B-class. The GLC shares its platform with the new B-class, a version of the MFA that has been engineered to support both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive.
Among the four-cylinder engines that Mercedes has planned for the GLC is a turbocharged 1.8-litre, direct-injection petrol unit. It will be offered in two different states of tune: 168bhp in the GLC200 CGI and a gutsier 201bhp in the range-topping GLC250 CGI.
The diesels, which are expected to account for more than 50 per cent of sales in the UK, will be a Renault-sourced 120bhp 1.6 in the GLC180, together with two different versions of Mercedes’ 2.1-litre oil-burner, developing 170bhp in the GLC200 CDI and 204bhp in the GLC250 CDI.
All engines will come with a standard six-speed manual gearbox, with a six-speed dual-clutch transmission set to be optional on higher-end models. As part of Mercedes’ BlueEfficiency initiative, features such as brake energy recuperation, electro-mechanical steering and automatic stop-start will also be included as standard.
Alongside the regular petrol and diesel versions of the new GLC, Mercedes is engineering a range of alternative-fuel variants that include a petrol-electric hybrid as well as a hydrodgen-fuelled model.
Four-wheel drive capability comes by way of a multi-plate clutch that continuously varies the torque split between the front and rear axles. It is allied to a torque vectoring system that also controls the flow of power heading to each of the rear wheels.
The GLC will receive increased ground clearance, raising it some 20mm beyond that of the B-class for an even more commanding driving position and added off-road ability.
Mercedes is also developing a more basic front-wheel-drive variant of its new junior off-roader in a move aimed at maximising its sales potential while providing the basis for improved fuel economy. However, the front-wheel-drive variant is not yet confirmed as part of the launch line-up.