Mercedes Benz GLC 300 4Matic

Launch impressions on the German car maker’s latest model.

Queenslanders in the habit of adding ‘hey’ at the end of their sentences could find themselves annoyed by the latest in-car infotainment system fitted to the revamped Mercedes-Benz GLC range.

‘Hey Mercedes’ is a central part of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) system being rolled out across the German car maker’s entire range and is seen most recently in its facelifted GLC SUV.

Functionally, the system is like the Siri virtual assistant on an Apple iPhone, in that it’s a voice operated digital assistant that responds to the ‘Hey Mercedes’ command. Unlike Sir, however, However, the Mercedes virtual assistant controls dozens of commonly used vehicle systems, including phone calls, radio volume, air-conditioning and navigation.

It’s all staggeringly clever, but as we discovered during the facelifted model’s recent launch, it can be a little trigger-happy, offering help whenever the word ‘Mercedes’ is mentioned in passing conversation. One wonders, then, how it might fare in the Sunshine State, where sentences are often ended with an ‘hey’ or ‘ay’.

If voice control isn’t your cup of tea, you can achieve the same purpose via small finger pad controls on the steering wheel, which toggle through menus in the main instrument cluster and the central touchscreen. You can also use a mouse-pad like touch-pad on the centre console or the touch control centre screen itself to access the car’s computerised sub-menus.

MB GLC 300 interior

Other big news in this mid-life revamp of Benz’s best-selling SUV is the deletion of a diesel engine option. In a sign of what’s to come from many European car makers, Benz has dropped the previous generation GLC250d and GLC350d from both standard and coupe body styles, replacing them with a plug-in hybrid and two revised turbo petrol power plants.

We drove the updated GLC200 and GLC300 turbo petrol four-cylinder models at launch, both now spruiking a handy dollop more power and torque than the GLC200 and GLC250 they replace.

There are more models coming, including the AMG GLC 43 and GLC 63S (Q1 2020), a plug-in hybrid GLC 300 e 4Matic (Q2 2020), as well as three coupe models equipped with the 300 and AMG powertrains. When complete by the second quarter of next year the full range will stretch to eight, ranging in price from the GLC200 at $66,100, to the range-topping AMG C63 S 4Matic+ Coupe at $168,100.

The GLC 200 (145kW/320Nm) and GLC 300 (190kW/370Nm) get the same 2.0-litre direct-injection and turbocharged four-cylinder engine, albeit in different states of tune. In either case the engine is exceptionally smooth, working seamlessly with an impressive nine-speed automatic to shift the GLC’s circa 1800kg kerb weight with ease.

With its extra 45kW and 50Nm the GLC 300 is arguably the better choice for open-road driving, although its extra power and standard all-wheel system means its 8.1 litres/100km fuel consumption is marginally higher than the two-wheel drive GLC 200’s 7.8 litres/100km. The former also comes standard with 20-inch wheels which are firmer riding than the 19s on the GLC 200.

Standard equipment lists on even the base GLC 200 are extensive with the extra $11,600 for the GLC 300 adding all-wheel drive, 20-inch wheels, keyless go, wireless phone charging, multi-beam LED headlights (with adaptive high beam), running boards, rear privacy glass and a Driver Assistance Package packed with potentially life-saving active safety features.

KEY STATS:

  • MLP: $77,700 (plus on-road costs)
  • ENGINE: 2.0-litre, turbo-petrol 4-cyl
  • ANCAP SAFETY RATING: 5 Star (tested 2015)
  • TAILPIPE CO2 (g/km): 181

FOR:

Build quality, dynamics, performance and efficiency of petrol engines

AGAINST:

Price, occasionally brittle ride, engines require 98 RON fuel, need to upgrade to get the best safety features 

Story: Ged Bulmer