The long road proves an ideal trip to get to know Merc’s popular GLC220d better
A recent requirement to travel to Jozi afforded the opportunity for run up the good old N1 for the first time in a good many a year. We decided to make a road trip of it, arranged the ideal car for the journey and booked a spot to overnight in Colesburg
I thought I’d give it a bash and see how far a tank of diesel would get us. Who knows, maybe all the way? So, I filled our Mercedes-Benz GLC220d AMG Line to the brim and we set off late one fine December morning.
Packing a 143kW 400Nm 2-litre turbodiesel turning Merc’s 9G-Tronic+ nine-speed automatic gearbox and 4Matic all-wheel drive, GLC is the middle of the range Benz SUV. The passenger brand’s biggest seller benefits all the typical virtues you’d expect. It is comfy and soft on the road and while a touch leaden, solid on the road. All traits that will thrill a lot of people hunting cars in this neck of the woods…
Look closely AT GLC220D. There are changes!
Facelifted a year or so ago, you’d be hard pressed to spot the external tweaks, but, look closely and you will pick out slimmer LED headlamps, a re-profiled grille, tweaked taillights and restyled bumpers front and rear. All that mark this out as the newer car.
People buying in this niche are probably style-focussed and there’s no compromise when it comes to look. Or cockpit feel.
The GLC does it in its own inimitable style, boasting an elegant, sporty, yet restrained enough cabin feel. The driver is greeted by round analogue dials split by an interactive 5.5-inch trip screen. It does the job very well. It’s easy to understand once you are into that Benz cabin language and if Star Wars driving tickles your fancy, the fully digital wide screen is an option.
This one’s sizeable standard issue 10.3-inch MBUX infotainment screen infiltrated the cabin in GLC’s recent facelift. It sits perched floating on the centre dash atop a trio of climate vents and a strip of good ‘ol buttons to control the basic functions.
Infotainment Interaction the Best!
Mercedes is well versed in how to get its cars to interact with the driver and passengers through a dazzling variety screens and systems. This latest level ensures that Merc keeps doing it best. The GLC220d has also gained those market-leading Benz double ultra-function touchpads on the steering in that facelift.
They really come into their own when you spend a long time in the car. As we did cruising the Karoo. The left side thumb pad runs the My Mercedes bit and controls the centre screen. The right hand one interacts with the screen between the dials to allow you to flit through whatever functions you want, including a broad variety of trip functions to manage your drive.
As we progressed, it quickly became clear that my dream of driving 1400 km on a single tank of 50 ppm was destined to just be a dream as I paddled through the data on the way. The pre-vacation truck traffic was horrible in both directions. Lines of them huddled in gangs, trying to overtake each other, slipstreaming and who knows what else.
Not that it mattered. Wait for the gap, plant it and he GLC 220d’s ample grunt rapidly put them in my mirrors, allowing a few minutes rest before the next gang of obstacles.
Too Many Trucks to Pass Used Up Fuel
But that planting it was the problem – it added a food two litres per hundred to the ideal I was seeking. So, I just settled down to enjoy the trip. While on the overtaking, I was also a little frustrated but the subtle lag when I planted it every time. Seemed to be a thing as it came off cruise control, but that’s something they can improve upon.
Cruising along after a mid-Karoo comfort break allowed time to play with the onboard systems and become a little more au-fait with the Hey Mercedes voice interface, screens and touch controls. But just reaching down to grab a piece of biltong from the packet or put the take-away coffee cup back in the holder, made quite frustrated by the irritating touch pad in the centre console.
Just inadvertently nudging it drives the bloody thing into a function you last wanted as it tunes to a radio station you least wan to hear, tries to take you to Bothaville or opens a function you least want. Or never knew existed. That’s now the weakest MBUX link. Hope it’s goodbye soon!
Hey, Mercedes to Your Assistance
The Hey Mercedes assistant is good, but not quite up to some carmakers’ rival are more intuitive, interactive and better understood ghost assistants. We’re sure voice controls will rapidly improve and develop as we go, to become an essential and popular means of vehicular interface.
Our overnight in Colesburg proved entertaining at a splendid little B&B albeit in the middle of what resembled a bit of a war zone and next morning we set off early and stopped for a hearty breakfast and a cool litle coffee at a little shop in the back corner of Trompsburg. We took on fuel in Bloem before driving through a thunderstorm into Gauteng.
All along we felt cosseted, comfortable and quite privileged as GLC 220d quietly got on with the trip. We felt secure too, amid that significant bouquet of latest passive safety tricks like a tough and crash-resistant structure, multiple airbags and the rest and all the driver aids.
Active helpers warn you about cars too close ahead, alongside or behind, if you’re wandering over the yellow line and to prepare you and the car from a broad variety of impending perils. Some of the more superfluous systems you may want to switch off, but others do make a difference when you need them most.
GLC220D Competent in Design
it’s a difficult task to style one of these. Their odd tall proportions and all that needs to be considered on all fronts. We’d say that the GLC is competent and current in design. Typical to a brand, which if you love, you will be more than happy with.
We arrived at our destination happy and refreshed, in spite of the challenges of the truck traffic en route. The GLC really came into its own around Jozi over the next few days. Allowing us to get on with our driving chores seemingly a thousand miles from the goings on outside. But that’s driving in Jozi
Not that the Mercedes GLC220d needed any introduction or convincing to prove its worth. But we were a little sad to walk away from what had become a loyal steed. There wasn’t much doubt before, but we came away impressed. By a capable, comfortable and most versatile cruiser that promises to be lovely to live with every day.
Little wonder it’s the best-selling Merc SUV out there. – Michele Lupini
Images – Michele Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Mercedes-Benz GLC220d AMG Line Engine: 100kW 350Nm 2-litre turbo petrol I4 Drive: 6-speed manual FWD TESTED: 0-60 km/h: 3.78 sec 0-100 km/h: 7.72 sec 0-160 km/h: 18.76 sec 400m: 15.5 sec @ 149 km/h 80-120 km/h: 5.87 sec 120-160 km/h: 8.26 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 215 km/h Fuel: 5.4 l/100km CO2: 144 g/km Warranty/Service: 2y unl./5y 100K km LIST PRICE: R983K RATED: 8