Mercedes-Benz GLC 250D

Indicative drive away price: $77,335

Not all Australia’s Best Cars winners announce themselves early on. It’s only after final testing and number crunching that some rise to the top.

One example is the Mercedes-Benz GLC 250d, which was equal top in just three (out of 20) scoring criteria – fuel consumption, safety and environment – but took home the chocolates.

New to market in 2016 as a replacement for the GLK, the GLC utilises the W205 C-Class sedan’s accomplished platform and drivetrains. Stretched to suit its SUV design brief, the GLC gives rear seat passengers 60mm more space overall by way of better leg and head room and a higher rear seating position. Depending on how many seats are folded down, cargo space is a generous 500 to 1600 litres.

Under the bonnet is a 2.1-litre, four-cylinder turbo-diesel pumping out 150kW of power and 500Nm of torque, driving through M-B’s 9G-tronic nine-speed auto and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system. With less weight to haul (1845kg) than some, the GLC has the wherewithal to match the second-placed Volvo XC90’s performance although it falls short of third placegetter Jaguar F-Pace’s muscle. The GLC claims 7.6 seconds for 0-100km/h, although it is a tad slow to get off the line on full throttle. Rated towing capability is 2500kg (braked) or 750kg (unbraked).

You don’t equate impressive fuel economy with anything larger than a compact SUV, but the GLC can claim an ADR combined cycle figure of just 5.7 litres/100km.   

Standard equipment is as impressive as it is extensive and includes cross-wind assist, keyless entry and start, privacy glass, dual-zone climate control, trip computer/multifunction display, remote-folding rear seats, five-speaker audio and satellite navigation. 

Hop inside and the C-Class sedan’s association is immediately evident, particularly from the B-pillar forward, where style meets comfort: leather-appointed, powered front seats; well-finished dash; the latest in connectivity and clear, and commanding vision forward and to the sides.

The ride is rather firm, not surprisingly given the taut suspension and tall 20-inch alloys, particularly over corrugations and expansion joins. This can be eased considerably with an optional ($2490) Airmatic suspension system.

But a firm ride usually equates to sharper handling and, although not quite as dynamic as the F-Pace, the Merc feels agile and athletic on a twisty back road, turning in smartly while offering plenty of reassuring grip and traction.

The GLC does not compromise on safety. During ANCAP testing, it was awarded the maximum five stars in scoring an adult occupant rating of 95 per cent, child occupant rating of 89 per cent and pedestrian rating of 82 per cent.

Standard equipment includes electronic stability control, traction control, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, autonomous emergency braking, parking sensors, 360-degree reversing camera and nine airbags (dual front, front and rear side, full-length curtain and driver’s knee). Also standard is a Driver Assist package with active radar cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring, collision detection and rear cross traffic alert.