What is it?
What it might have been is one of the most interesting versions of Mercedes’ latest SUV. It may even still prove to be, in a few years' time. This, then, is the GLC 350 e, the company’s petrol-electric plug-in hybrid alternative to the usual mid-sized, five-seat family 4x4.
Like its diesel siblings, this one has got full-time four-wheel drive and height-adjustable air suspension. But unlike them it offers the potential to combine a sub-six-second 0-62mph sprint with a fleet-friendly CO2 emissions rating.
Well, it’ll offer those things in markets where you can actually buy it. While the other versions of the new GLC use Mercedes’ new nine-speed automatic transmission, the 350 e can only currently work with the old 7G-Tronic-Plus torque converter gearbox also used in the S 500 plug-in hybrid. Without splashing out on an expensive re-engineering program, Mercedes can’t make that gearbox fit a right-hand-drive car with four driven wheels. Sound familiar? That’s probably because it was precisely those RHD conversion problems that kept the GLC’s predecessor, the GLK, from going on sale in the UK.
Mercedes is working on a nine-speed PHEV powertrain to address the problem, so there is at least some far-off hope for UK customers interested in the GLC 350 e. So with a plug-in hybrid Porsche Cayenne already on the market and rivals from BMW and Audi imminent, is this Mercedes a good reason to keep your money in your pocket for now?