What is it?
The all-new Mercedes-Benz GLC, which will seek to dethrone the second-generation BMW X3 at the top of the premium brand mid-sized SUV sales charts and provide competition to the seven-year-old Audi Q5 when it goes on sale in September.
The predecessor to the GLC, the square-edged GLK, was never produced in right-hand-drive guise owing to difficulties in packaging the driveshaft for the front axle, and subsequently it was not sold through official Mercedes-Benz sales channels in the UK. As a result, the German car maker has been unrepresented in one of the fastest-growing and most profitable market segments.
The arrival of the GLC rectifies this hole in Mercedes' line-up. The smart-looking SUV is based on the same platform as the latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class, but receives a 33mm-longer wheelbase than its saloon and estate siblings. It also uses tracks that have been widened by 31mm at the front and 47mm at the rear over the C-Class.
Mercedes makes no secret of the fact that the key rival for the GLC is the X3, so it is no surprise to find that the two share similar dimensions. The new SUV is a mere 1mm longer, 9mm wider and 21mm lower than the BMW at 4656mm, 1890mm and 1639mm respectively.
Although it is larger than its predecessor in all vital external measurements, Mercedes says the GLC is 80kg lighter than the GLK. This has been achieved through the use of hot-formed high-strength steel in the body structure and aluminium for the front wings, bonnet and roof. The GLC250d tested weighs 1770kg, making it 40kg heavier than the X3 xDrive20d and 45kg lighter than the high-powered version of the Q5 2.0 TDI.
Two diesel-powered models will be sold from the outset in the form of the £34,950 GLC 220 d and £36,105 GLC 250 d. They both run Mercedes’s widely used OM651-designated turbocharged 2.1-litre four-cylinder powerplant in differing states of tune, the former with 168bhp and 295lb ft, and the latter producing 201bhp and 369lb ft.
Other left-hand-drive European markets get a petrol powered GLC 250, which uses a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine with 208bhp and 258lb ft. Also planned to follow before the end of 2015 but not planned for right-hand drive production is a petrol-electric-powered plug-in hybrid variant, the GLC 350 e.
It combines a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, developing 208bhp and 258lb ft, with an electric motor mounted within front section of the gearbox housing and producing 114bhp and 251lb ft. All up, it offers combined system outputs of 316bhp and 413lb ft.
There is no manual gearbox, at least during the initial sales phase. Instead there is a standard nine-speed automatic gearbox on the two diesel engines. It receives the latest in fuel-saving functions, including automatic stop-start and brake energy recuperation.
Both the GLC 220 d and GLC 250 d receive Mercedes-Benz's 4Matic four-wheel drive system as standard. However, unlike the left-hand-drive models that apportion power in a 45% front, 55% rear split, right-hand-drive UK models come with a 33%/67% front/rear split.