Home Cars & Bikes Five things to know about the Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d

Five things to know about the Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d

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The 2024 Mercedes-Benz GLC 220d Avantgarde offers a tantalising package for those seeking a luxury SUV that prioritises efficiency and comfort. Here’s a closer look:

1. Quality has taken a forward leap

Mercedes-Benz has seen some dark days as far as cabin quality goes. It wasn’t that the recent interiors weren’t luxurious or well appointed, but rather that they weren’t all that solidly built – or built from sturdy materials.

Car reviewers have devoted yarns of text to this phenomenon, but I’m happy to report that Mercedes-Benz might have turned a corner. There’s still some room for improvement, though. For example, the quality of the centre console’s component material, specifically the part where the driver’s forearm rests, can still go up a notch.

Yet overall the GLC 200d’s cabin is a lovely place to occupy. Do note that its not the most spacious car in its broader class – that honour goes to the Subaru Forester. However, the size of its luggage area trumps those of the BMW X3 and Audi Q5. 

2. The engine-gearbox combo is sublime

The GLC 220d uses a 2,0-litre, 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine that produces a maximum of 162 kW and 440 Nm, which feels more than sufficient. Of late, the entire GLC range uses a 48-volt mild hybrid system that can add short burst of assistance, especially from standstill or when accelerating.

This hybrid system has another advantage: When the engine switches off at standstill, for example while waiting at a traffic light, it restarts almost imperceptibly when the driver removes her foot from the brake pedal.

This is a far cry from the older systems, where the restart sent a shock through the car (and the driver’s spine).

Powering all four wheels through a silky smooth “G-TRONIC” automatic transmission with nine gears, the 220d can sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 8 seconds and on to a top speed of 219 km/h. At the end of our seven-day test, our overall consumption figure came to a respectable 6,3 litres/100km.

3. It can go off-road when it has to

All GLCs come standard with all-wheel drive (“4MATIC”), which aids road-holding and adds a dash of sportiness – especially when accelerating out of a corner. 

Among the 220d’s various driving modes counts an off-road mode that enhance the GLC’s performance on unpaved surfaces and light off-road trails. Here’s what it does:

Off-road mode

  • Adjusts engine and transmission settings: This can involve changes like smoother throttle response, earlier gear shifts, and revised torque distribution to provide better traction and control on loose terrain.
  • Hill Descent Control: This system helps maintain a controlled speed when going downhill by automatically applying the brakes, allowing the driver to focus on steering.
  • Off-road display: The instrument cluster and infotainment screen can provide additional information relevant to off-road driving, such as incline, gradient, steering angle, and altitude.

While the GLC has off-road capability, it’s not intended for extreme off-roading. It lacks a low-range transfer case – a crucial component in dedicated off-road vehicles for multiplying engine torque and enabling them to crawl over obstacles or climb steep inclines.

If you plan on serious off-road adventures, the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado or the (very expensive) Mercedes-Benz G-Class would be better suited to the task. But, for light trails or occasional or muddy conditions, the GLC’s off-road mode provides additional traction and control. (AMG Line pictured below)

Tyres, ground clearance, and protection

You can spec your GLC to be more off-road ready by forgoing the popular large alloy wheels and choosing smaller 18” wheels instead. This will give you tyres with a higher profile that are also more suited to sand, mud, and other tricky surfaces.

It’s also worth knowing that Mercedes-Benz offers the Off-Road Engineering Package for R9 000. This endows the GLC with 20 mm extra ground clearance as well as underbody protection. “One Life | Live It” stickers are not included.

4. Some of its rivals are cheaper

Of the three mainstream German luxury brands – Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz – the latter’s products are often the most expensive. Here it’s no different, as you can see in the list three paragraphs down.

To bag a GLC, you’d have to add another R100 000 or so to the price of an Audi Q5 or BMW X3 (below). That is less than a tenth of the total price of the GLC and certainly won’t deter the Mercedes fan who wants a Mercedes – and nothing else.

Besides the satisfaction of having a three-pointed star in the garage, does the GLC offer anything that makes it a more compelling proposition than the Q5 or X3? Well, it’s the freshest of the lot (until the new X3 arrives), has the biggest boot, boasts the highest power output of the three, and has the most attractive exterior design, although that is subject to taste and brand religion.

Looking at the long list of alternatives to the GLC 220ds (below), it’s clear that well-heeled buyers are spoilt for choice. It almost seems as if there’s one millionaire to every ten people in Mzansi!

Desirable competitors

  • Audi Q5 Sportback 40TDI quattro S line, diesel, R1 126 200
  • BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport, diesel, R1 137 731
  • Jaguar E-Pace D200 AWD R-Dynamic SE, diesel, R1 187 900
  • Alfa Romeo Stelvio 2.0T Veloce Q4, petrol, R1 217 900
  • Mercedes-Benz GLC220d 4Matic Avantgarde, diesel (mild hybrid), R1 265 619
  • Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 2.8GD TX, diesel, R1 296 300
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport D200 Dynamic SE, diesel, R1 305 400
  • Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine AWD Plus Dark, plug-in hybrid (petrol), R1 314 000
  • Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport, plug-in hybrid (petrol), R1 336 200
  • Mercedes-Benz GLC220d 4Matic AMG Line, diesel (mild hybrid), R1 348 212
  • BMW iX3 M Sport, electric, R1 361 400
  • Land Rover Discovery Sport D200 Dynamic HSE, diesel, R1 363 400
  • Mercedes-Benz GLC300 4Matic Avantgarde, diesel (mild hybrid), R1 384 580
  • Porsche Macan, petrol, R1 393 000

5. These are its rivals you should seriously consider

The GLC 220d is a hard act to follow. Still, there is a handful of its competitors you really must have on your short list:

  • BMW X3 xDrive20d M Sport (R1 137 731): BMW will replace the current generation in the fourth quarter of 2024, so there could be enticing discounts available as BMW South Africa and its dealers get rid of ‘old’ stock.
  • Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine AWD Plus Dark (R1 314 000): It’s a great all-rounder and you can charge its battery to give you some electric-only kilometres.
  • Lexus NX 450h+ F Sport (R1 336 200): Just like the Volvo above, the NX 450h+ can also be plugged in. On top of that, Lexus offers excellent reliability and include many comfort and safety features as standard.
  • BMW iX3 M Sport (R1 361 400): This is the fully electric X3 and one of the best EVs available. It has a range of around 400 km and needs a mere 6,2 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h.
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