Mercedes-Benz is aiming squarely at fleet success with its second-generation version of the Mercedes GLC mid-sized family SUV, which has just arrived on UK roads - and, as is typical of it, is firing at its rivals with both barrels. It’s continuing to offer both diesel- and petrol-electric plug-in hybrid models, and both are now on sale with advertised lab-test fuel economy of greater than 500mpg. There are mild-hybrid petrol- and diesel models in the revised line-up too, while the Mercedes-AMG performance models are likely to follow along later.
A giant-sized drive battery is behind the claimed efficiency of the PHEVs. The new car’s platform having been designed especially for ‘plug-in hybridisation’, it has more than twice as much energy storage as its predecessor: 31.2kWh. That’s a healthy dose more than the closely related Mercedes C-Class PHEV, the Mercedes C300e, and more than double what one of the firm's compact PHEVs, such as the A250e version of the Mercedes A-Class, offers (it's close to the battery capacity of a £130k Range Rover PHEV, in fact). And it translates into two things of note: a claimed electric range of some 80 miles (which is more than enough to make this the only plug-in hybrid SUV currently on the market to qualify for a 5% benefit-in-kind rating, even in fully loaded trim) - and a kerb weight of almost 2.3 tonnes.
The new GLC 300e’s tax efficiency is the kind for which fleet buyers will expect to pay a premium but, in this case, it’s a big one. While prices for other GLC models start at little more than £50k, it takes £62k to get into the cheapest PHEV, and nearly £75k for a full-house GLC 300de diesel. The outgoing GLC 300e equivalent of our test car was nearly £15,000 cheaper: – a hike that it’ll take more than ‘Trussonomics’ to explain to some.
If you’re a private buyer, £70,000 will get you into markedly more expensive-feeling SUVs than this, needless to say. The GLC’s interior has adult-appropriate accommodation in both rows of seats, and a boot that’s pretty big and almost entirely unpenalised by any battery pack intrusion (although under-floor cable storage space is notable by its absence).
Up front, the instrumentation layout and design theme will be instantly recognisable to C-Class owners. With its totem-like central MBUX infotainment system, crisp digital instruments, large head-up display and multi-coloured ambient lighting, our test car was yet more evidence of Mercedes recasting itself as a modern tech company whose wares just happen to come in large boxes with wheels on them.