As with the 250 d, the installation of Mercedes’ 2.1-litre diesel in the GLC has been a successful one. Yes, you can tell there’s an oil-burner under the bonnet when accelerating hard, but any clatter and coarseness is pretty well contained, especially at idle and cruising. That’s handy, as you will most definitely be working this engine harder than you would a 250 d.
Still, its 0-62mph time of 8.3sec is nothing to be ashamed of, although you do notice the 74Ib ft torque deficiency. In situations that would see the 250 d holding on to a gear, the 220 d has to shift down to keep up with the pace you're asking for.
At least you don't have to drop too much speed in the corners; it may be on Comfort suspension but the GLC is still feels quite firm. Roll is kept in check well and the 220 d is happy to change direction briskly without fuss.
The downside to the stiffness is a ride that transmits far more of the road surface to the cabin than you might expect. Over smooth Tarmac it’s fine, but regardless of speed, rough surfaces cause noticeable vertical movement.
Standard-fit four-wheel drive ensures there’s plenty of traction on exiting corners, but don’t expect the rear axle to edge round and help you out, it's always the front end that lets go first. Non-defeatable stability control makes sure it stays that way.
It’s a similar story with the steering. It’s easy enough to place the nose of the GLC where you want it, but you never have a concrete sense of what the front wheels are doing. The only change in weight we could ever detect came from switching from overly light Comfort mode to the meatier Sport mode.
Switching to the sportier end of the Mercedes driving spectrum also gives you a sharper throttle response and a gearbox that’s more eager to kick down. Ultimately, Eco mode seems a tad lazy and Sport a little keen for smooth progress; Comfort strikes a decent balance.
Indeed, the GLC seems much happier driven well within its limits. At a 70mph cruise, there’s not a great deal of wind noise and the engine is spinning at just 1500rpm. The nine-speed auto also shuffles smoothly through its many ratios.
Lesser speeds also let you take in the GLC's impressive interior ambiance. Everything looks good and is well laid out with controls that work with a feeling of precision. We also like Mercedes’ rotary infotainment controller, although some of the system's on-screen menus can be a little confusing.