Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d test drive: Sizzling performer

With more power than the outgoing model, good looks and an array of features, the GLC 220d is a great buy.
Last Updated 27 December 2019, 05:42 IST

The GLC 220d 4MATIC has been one of Mercedes-Benz India’s highest selling sports utility vehicles. And the 2020 version just got a facelift, and a nice one at that.

Cosmetic changes on the exterior include the front headlamps and taillights. The GLC 220d gets new bumpers as well. The front has the company’s three-pointed star logo in the middle of two thick lines that run across the grille. The LED headlamps, now smaller, gently sweep upwards. The bottom part of the bumper has chrome parts. Overall, the front has a very sporty look.

The rear has an uncluttered look and is neat. The taillights are also new and wrap around to the side of the SUV, while the bottom part of the rear bumper has chrome parts.

Moving to the inside, the dashboard can be an option between two light colours. However, the impressive part is the centre console. This facelifted GLC 220d now comes with the fine open pore walnut wood trim and houses the AC vents and other controls.

There is a new steering wheel with touch controls and the cruise control can also be operated from the wheel. The leather-wrapped wheel is not too thick and feels very comfortable to hold. The speedometer and tachometer are analog and there is a 5.5-inch multi-function display in between.

Now to the cool part of the GLC 220d – the newly-included MBUX (Mercedes-Benz User Experience), which within the company is the NTG 6 telematics. This is the first Mercedes-Benz car in India to get this latest infotainment system. Display is on a 10.25-inch touchscreen mounted at the centre of the dashboard.

The MBUX system can be activated by saying ‘Hey Mercedes’. And what can it do? A lot really. Consider this. If the driver suddenly needs directions to a specific restaurant for example, all that has to be done is say ‘Hey Mercedes’ and ask the MBUX for directions to the desired destination. This artificial intelligence system will display directions on the screen. The MBUX can also be used to control a whole lot of car functions and is really useful. This system is very likely to be one of the GLC 220d’s best selling points because several SUV functions can be used without taking the hands off the steering wheel.

The infotainment touchscreen can also be controlled with a touchpad that is lower down from the centre console.

With an LTE e-SIM, the GLC 220d can communicate and give the driver useful information like live traffic among others. Other convenience features include parked vehicle locator, vehicle tracker, alert for speeding over the set limit, remote door locking and unlocking that can be done from a smartphone.

So, how does it drive?

The GLC 220d has got a new motor as well and mated to an automatic transmission. The GLC 220d gets the newer OM 654 engine (displacement is 1950 cc) and replaces the OM 651. The OM 654 is a four-cylinder in-line unit and produces 194 hp. The newer power plant has slightly less displacement than its predecessor but produces more power. The engine is also BS6 compliant.

The engine makes for a great drive, with the noise levels very low. The GLC 220d does not feel out of place in crowded city traffic. A gentle press of the throttle and it will cruise along with no fuss, even at low speeds. But on the highway, it can really move. Thanks to the 400 Nm of peak torque between 1600 and 2800 rpm, the rush feels awesome. Even at higher speeds, the GLC 220d feels very planted. In no way does it feel too big or heavy despite being an SUV and is pretty easy to handle and drive.

The seat is also very comfortable and can be electrically adjusted exactly to your liking with the controls on the front door panel. We liked the nice, high stance the seat can be adjusted to and it gives a commanding view of the road.

The rear seat feels a bit low but is comfortable. It should be good for long journeys as well.

The suspension on the GLC 220d is good enough to soak up the roughs and ensures a smooth drive. However, considering that Bengaluru’s roads are not in the best of shape, going over a badly laid and unscientific speed breaker or tarmac patchwork without really slowing down will give the occupants a jolt. But this is just a quibble. On good roads we tested the GLC 220d on, it shone.

The onboard sensors are also pretty useful, and a warning is displayed on the touchscreen when the GLC 220d gets too close to other vehicles in motion or even a wall or gate while parking.

What is a particularly good piece of design is the lever to change between drive, park and reverse and its placement. It is just behind the steering wheel and being like the turn indicator stalk, it is very convenient to operate and without taking one’s hands off the wheel.

The other useful feature in the GLC 220d is that the headlight can be set to the auto on mode. The A/C temperature can be individually for the driver and front passenger. These features go a long way in making the driving experience more comfortable and convenient.

Additionally, the ambient lighting has the option of 64 colour levels, there is wireless charging at the front and the GLC 220d is equipped with the Midline sound system.

The GLC 220d competes with the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Volvo XC60.

Is the GLC 220d a good buy? Definitely. It has more power than the outgoing model, is a great SUV to drive, looks sportier now and the new telematics with the MBUX system make this a serious competitor in this segment.

The new Mercedes-Benz GLC 200 is priced at Rs 52.75 lakh, and the GLC 220d is priced at Rs 57.75 lakh (all prices ex-showroom, pan India)

(Published 27 December 2019, 05:37 IST)

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