If you’re looking for a mid-sized SUV, this German option could be a worthy proposition
Photos by Azfar Hashim
Previously, we test drove the GLC in 250 4MATIC guise and came away impressed simply because on top of how it was significantly priced to undercut the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, the GLC 250 also displayed a high level of driving refinement.
So today with us is its quietly introduced entry-level variant, the GLC 200. And since price is an important factor in helping you decide, it comes with a price tag of $228k with COE; nearest competitors, namely the X3 xDrive30i, Q5 2.0 TFSI quattro, XC 60 T5 and F-Pace 2.0 Prestige are priced at $259k, $239k, $230k and $251k — with COE — respectively. Sounds like a bargain Mercedes-Benz which, at this point, should tempt you.
However unlike its all-wheel drive competitors (except the Jaguar), this GLC 200 is a rear-wheel drive. I can already hear some readers going “oh no” and probably about to skip reading the rest of this review…
18-inch alloys wrapped in 235/60 R-18 Pirelli Scorpion Verde tyres
But hold on first, because what I’m about to tell you next is how sprightly and — for no better word — vivacious this SUV is off the line. Its rear-wheel drive set-up is paired to a turbocharged, 4-cylinder 2.0-litre engine that whips out 181 bhp and 300 Nm of torque. The 9-speed ‘box, particularly in Sport+ mode, has a shift pattern that encourages the GLC 200 to sprint to three figure speeds in a quick fashion; thus it’s no surprise to see how, on paper, this 1.7-tonne Mercedes needs only 8.3 seconds to accelerate from standstill to 100 km/h.
Steering mounted paddle-shifters are standard issue
It felt as though the GLC 200 could take on anything on the road: You would probably expect it to move off rather slowly, but to see it move ahead like a family hatchback, woahhh, is a neat party trick.
And as Mercedes-Benz is quite the expert at setting up chassis, you don’t really notice the lack of traction; to be bold, it felt almost on par as its 4MATIC-fitted sibling when tackling corners. You feel the balance from the car as the body moves from one side to the other; unfortunately, you do wish for more weight from the steering during such sporty driving moments. And in Sport+, it tends to feel a tad artificial.
The traction control system seen here seem to be one of the most alert ever seen this side of the competition; obviously to compensate the lack of all-wheel drive. Whenever it notices the rear slipping away into oversteer — and this only happens when you forget you’re not behind the wheel of a hot-hatch — the car will, in nanoseconds, pull and redistribute the power hence saving you from having to unnecessarily fill up any insurance claim forms…
For an entry-level model, the GLC 200 impressively comes with items such as Blind Spot Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Attention Assist and Pre-Safe Brake. For the curious, Active Lane Keeping Assist identifies when the car is unintentionally drifting out of lane; when this happens, it will send a vibration to the steering wheel to alert the driver. For Attention Assist, a display will flash on the instrument cluster to recommend the driver to stop for a break when it notices changing driver’s pattern, which indicates fatigue. Whereas for Pre-Safe Brake (comes with Brake Assist for this test car), what it does is simply tighten the seat belts and automatically close any opened windows when an impending collision is about to happen; Brake Assist, working in tandem, will apply maximum braking power when the driver steps on the brake pedal fully.
Now to the cabin - driver and front passenger could easily get comfortable, thanks largely to the snug and supportive seats (both electrically adjustable). For rear passengers, here is one surprise - despite the sloping roof towards the rear, there is still adequate leg and headroom for three adults. Oh, those sunroof/glassroof combo comes standard too.
550-litres worth of space available
Boot space is definitely another major selling point here. With the backrest upright, you could easily fit two golf and two other travel bags without any issue. Bring the seat down, and it has the ability to relocate the whole of Bukit Timah back there.
So at the end of the day, the GLC 200 will still attract the crowd. Besides the badge appeal, there’s that enjoyable driving experience along with competent handling characteristic, good equipment list and a highly practical cabin.
Best of all, that price tag that easily outshines its competitors.