Food and socialising are almost inseparable; be it with family, friends, or even strangers, language and food are great social lubricants. Often times, many would travel far and wide for the best eats regardless located within the region or places far, far away from home.
Screw it, I said, while driving through the damp and dark city centre for one the sloppiest Ramlee burgers you could ever enjoy from a humble food cart hidden in the deep fringes of Ampang, cheap and cheerful is all its about. Why not doing it in the GLC 200, no one would care right? Nobody does really; it’s understated yet classy and doesn’t attract a too much attention.
Well, it’s a Mercedes-Benz for sure. Smooth, rounded and elegant with panel gaps are near imperceptible – especially at the rear door, where it blends seamlessly into the rear wheel arch. What makes this GLC 200 different than the bigger GLC 250 4Matic model is that it comes standard with the OFF-ROAD exterior package.
Flanking the large grille are full LED headlights, which consumes little and with long service life. The headlights turn on and off automatically by default, which you can also switch them off or on manually. The daytime running lamps does double duty as signal repeaters. This gives the clusters a clean and organised look, while the design elements inside are like sculptures in their own right.
They respond quickly when driving in and out of tunnels, and provide good illumination when it rains. When driving during a moonless night, the LED lights provide crystal white light with far range and coverage ahead. There’s also automatic high beam that works brilliantly in the dark, especially when turning and cornering. The beams dips automatically when it senses oncoming traffic, but it tends to confuse itself with highly reflective cat eyes and signs for oncoming traffic.
Adding a dimension of ruggedness, the GLC200 comes with aluminium-look running boards, which you can actually provides support when getting in and out, and the rubber studs provides grip when wet. Besides that, the side mirrors houses LED puddle lamps which projects the silver arrow logo on the ground below, which does a pretty good job in spotting out the puddles. This is also where the side steps comes in handy, where you could use them as a platform to take a leap off the SUV or to provide support to find good footing on soft ground.
If you’re familiar with the C-Class then the GLC feels very much like home. However, there are some minor differences in the GLC’s interior that C-Class owners can spot right away. The smoking gun would be the glove compartment; in the C-Class, the glove door opens very much like a clamshell, while the one in the GLC is more of a tray. Other than that, they are pretty similar in every way.
And that isn’t a bad thing, as the interior of the C-Class is pretty good. The interior panels are well put together, soft touch surfaces and no signs of cheapness to be found. The base GLC gets brown open pore wood interior inserts which does feel good to the touch and doesn’t leave prints and leaving scratches would require the usage of a pen knife instead of fingernails.
The front seats too are a familiar sight, where the C-Class seats are comfy and supportive which are great for long distance driving. The other thing I like about these seats is that they come with manually retractable thigh supports, a useful feature for people with long legs. Both the driver and front passenger will get their thighs equally supported. This supports the thigh while driving, which allow better and more accurate throttle and brake control.
For the rear passengers, space isn’t a big issue; there’s room for knees and room for the scalp even for taller passengers. There’s a retractable centre armrest with two-cup holders making long distance ferrying a lot more bearable. Fitting a fifth person is all right, but not great for long distances. The rear seats fold 40/20/40 easily, either by pulling the toggles in the boot compartment and at the sides of the seats, no sweat.
Mercedes-Benz engineers were quite thoughtful on the whole process; typically in most cars, repositioning the rear seats back up requires either holding them aside while pushing the seats back in. In the GLC, all you could do is just push the seats back in and pull the belt back out with very little resistance. Even the rear passengers can pull them out again to be used. Very thoughtful!
The Thermotronic climate control system provides front and rear passengers a three-zone climate control system, where both front occupants can adjust the air temperature, direction and intensity to suit to their own comfort levels, while the rear will have to settle with one. The rear passengers also get their own climate control interface, which decidedly look a little like SpongeBob.
There are also ISOFIX anchor points on both sides. When the need to lug big bulky items around, the GLC’s default 500-litre capacity can be expanded up to 1,600-litres with the rear seats folded down flat.
The GLC 200 as tested comes fitted with an seven-inch Audio 20 CD infotainment display with navigation. The colour screen mounted nicely within sight and high up on the dashboard, controlled by a control knob and touchpad positioned between the front seats. Most of the time, though, you’re better off sticking with just the knob, because it’s quicker and easier to use while on the move, quicker still, there are hot keys below the climate control interface. It also displays the reverse camera located at the rear of the car with guidelines that assists you when reverse parking into tight spots.
The control buttons located on the electrically powered steering wheel are pretty large and chunky; not a bad thing because it’s much harder to miss when most of your focus is on the road ahead, be it hunting for your favourite song, setting up the cruise control or answering your phone calls via Bluetooth connectivity.
Although the GLC 200 tested is not fitted with the optional Burmester speakers, the standard audio system performs pretty well. The difference of sound quality between this ones and the Burmester system they’re marginally different. The standard system does what it is expected from; dynamic range is good throughout with high headroom without any signs of clipping when the volume is cranked up.
Motive force comes from an M 274 DE 20 AL two-litre turbocharged petrol engine making 182hp at 5,500 rpm with a maximum torque output of 300Nm available from 1,200 rpm to 4,000 rpm. Interestingly, the M247 is Mercedes-Benz’s first modular four-cylinder engine module, which has a longitudinal and transverse designs. The latter, bearing the M270 (not to be mistaken with the multiple launch rocket system armoured vehicle) code number can be found in the A-, B-, C 180 and CLA class models, which only comes in 1.6- and 2.0-litre variants.
The M274 is a technical marvel by its own; the engine features a steel crankshaft sans hollow crank pins. This reduces the free inertial forces and therefore reduces the NVH level of the engine. The low and flat torque output is thanks to the Camtronic system, which switches the intake valve strokes for engine load control. The variable valve lift adjustment system increases and decreases the valve stroke depending on throttle angle at lower engine speeds and the boost produced by the turbocharger at higher torques. In short, when more torque is needed, the valve lift is increased.
By managing the engine loads, Camtronic is active in a wide speed range from idle to 3,500 rpm and in a load range from zero to almost the full intake load due to the large valve stroke, which the output curve feels very suited for urban traffic. Together with Lean-burn combustion, the GLC 200 is able to achieve single digit numbers of 5.8 L/100km highway, 8.9 L/100km urban, and 7.2 L/100km combined in Eco mode as tested.
The sophisticated two-litre mill is coupled to a nine-speed automatic gearbox which you can manually switch gears via paddle shifters. The nine-speed automatic gearbox shifts quick and seamless at the lower end of the engine’s speed range.
The driving position and ergonomics are spot on, and no matter how high or how low you sit, the line of sight ahead is unobstructed, and having a higher ride height than the C-Class provides a commanding view ahead. The only minor pet peeve I had with the GLC is that the side mirrors tends to get in the way of looking out for curbs on the side of the road.
The dials, toggles and buttons are within reach, and the Command Control interface on the transmission tunnel is hard to miss once memorised. The degree of which you can make yourself comfortable in is huge, where the 14-way electrically adjustable front seats and the rake and reach of the steering wheel enables drivers to either drive like Dom from the Fast and Furious movie franchise (which we highly discourage) or a race car driver’s sitting position.
Be in towns, cities or on the open road, the GLC 200 can be described as civilised. The brakes offer a good level of modulation while enough resistance to better control brake pressure. Likewise, the accelerator pedal enables drivers to finely adjust the amount of throttle to be applied, which can come in handy when driving smoothly, be it in the city or cruising on the highway.
A modern urban-centric SUV should be able to perform when it is needed. The 2.0 litre engine fitted in the GLC 200 may sound like the weakest in the family, but in reality, the performance difference is marginal. Still, you get the same driving characteristics as the engines with a higher tune up. The low-end torque is punchy and power delivery is linear, albeit with some persuasion needed to get up to speed quickly.
Having more gears is indeed good, especially with an engine with a low-end and dead-flat torque band, allowing the car to touch 200km/h comfortably. You can either drive the GLC’s heart out by leaving the gearbox by its own devices or by using the paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel. Either way, leaving it in full auto is the best way to exploit the 2.0-litre engine’s output.
Being rear wheel driven only, the GLC 200 handles pretty well. In current Mercedes-Benz cars fashion, the GLC handles quite predictably, and it’s balanced towards understeer. The GLC is one of the easiest cars to be driven spiritedly; it’s nimble around tight bends with minimal body movement. And for a rear driven SUV, the rear doesn’t dramatically rotate out of line in corners.
The Mercedes-Benz GLC 200 suggests that having the biggest number at times is irrelevant. For Mercedes-Benz cars, all are treated equally, with the same levels of build quality, drivability and practicality suited for the modern urban individual. What’s more is that the standard equipment doesn’t vary much either. Expect an interior that has the sense of occasion, with soft and comfortable ARTICO seats can provide support and comfort on long distance journeys. The exterior is understated and inoffensive where the junior in the GLC series is one of for matured audiences, where as the GLC 250 and the GLC 43 are the much youthful ones in terms of looks and performance.
+ Timeless looks
+ Practical upmarket interior
+ Smooth and powerful engine
+ Frugal fuel consumption
+ Easy to drive
Mercedes-Benz GLC 200
Price Msia: RM276,350.50 (W/O Insurance with GST 0%)
Engine: Four-cylinder turbocharged
Torque: 300 Nm
Fuel Economy: 5.8 l/100km (Tested)
Transmission: 9-Speed Automatic