What is it?
Like the rest of the GLC range, the intriguing and rather effective plug-in hydrogen fuel cell version has received modest exterior styling tweaks and an overhauled interior benefitting from the latest MBUX infotainment system, digital dials and an attractive new steering wheel.
What hasn’t changed are the rather high-tech underpinnings, which offer a realistic glimpse of what we can expect in the post-petrol future. Nestling under the GLC F-Cell’s bonnet is a hydrogen fuel cell, which Mercedes engineers have managed to neatly install in a largely unmodified engine compartment; it even uses the same mounting points as the internal combustion-engined versions. Not only is this the most compact fuel cell the company has yet made, but it also uses 90% less platinum than that of the original B-Class F-Cell from a decade ago.
Linked to this are a pair of carbonfibre-skinned hydrogen tanks that are concealed under the floor. Holding a combined 4.4kg of hydrogen, they feed the fuel cell, which combines the gas with atmospheric oxygen to produce the electricity that powers the 208bhp electric motor mounted on the rear axle. The best bit of this set-up is that it takes as little as three minutes to replenish the tanks once they run dry.
However, the flaw in the plan is that hydrogen filling stations are currently rather thin on the ground. To counter this, Mercedes has also installed a 13.5kWh battery that can plugged into the mains at any time and gives around 30 miles of range on top of the hydrogen’s 250-or-so-mile limit. The theory here is that for most short-haul journeys (the kind most of us do), the GLC F-Cell can rely on the range-extending battery, with the hydrogen fuel coming into its own on longer trips that can be planned to include stops for gas fills. Simple – sort of.