at the wheel of the plug-in hybrid SUV capable of more than 100 km in electric

at the wheel of the plug-in hybrid SUV capable of more than 100 km in electric

To say Mercedes pulled out all the stops to replace the GLC is an understatement.because the first of the name is nothing less than the best-selling Mercedes in the world in recent times! This is not necessarily visible at first glance because the newcomer looks a lot like its predecessor, the star not having taken the risk of upsetting the appreciated style of its favorite SUV – while the two generations practically do not share no common room. But this lack of aesthetic ambition is largely compensated by technical developments. Starting, for the three plug-in hybrid variants offered, with the appearance a huge 31.2 kWh battery, replacing the 13.5 kWh battery of its predecessor. We are not far from what an electric Fiat 500 with a large battery (37.3 kWh) offers. For this first test of the new GLC, it is a 300 variant of – therefore PHEV diesel – which has passed through our hands.

Remarkable comfort

Very “padded”, this Mercedes GLC shines with its comfort. A little less by its dynamism, the fault of the consequent weight.©Mercedes

At the wheel, you don’t need to drive for a long time to appreciate the comfort delivered by the GLC 300 from. Cradled by the air suspension supplied as standard in France on plug-in hybrids and coaxed by a seat with excellent support, I feel zen behind the wheel. Especially since it’s been nearly 100 km since “my” GLC 300 carbide without having started its four-cylinder diesel. A feat usually reserved for purely electric cars. The battery powers a block offering 136 hp and 440 Nm of torque, enough to calmly move this big guy (4.72 m, or 6 cm longer than before) on our current route, consisting mainly of national roads limited to 80 km /h. The monastic silence that reigns on board is just tainted, as on real electric cars, by noises that you don’t usually hear, in this case rolling noises. On the other hand, we realize very quickly that this large battery does not come without some drawbacks. Compared to a GLC 220d which offers the same 2.0 diesel of 197 hp, our plug-in 300 announces 415 kg more. That is 2,415 kg in total! The resulting mass and inertia are felt at the first corner despite the rear steering wheels present (option at a price not yet known). This is the first time that the GLC has been entitled to this refinement, with a maximum steering angle in opposition of 4.5°. You can feel the rear pivoting in the hairpins, but that does not eliminate the heaviness felt at the wheel. This is attenuated, however, by switching from Hybrid mode to Sport. The direction is firming up and the damping, hitherto comfortable but soft on the undulations, better contains the cash movements. With 335 hp and 750 Nm of cumulative torque available channeled by 4Matic all-wheel drive overtaking a formality on short straights. But as soon as it turns the mass remembers your good memory, and it is better not to overdo it, especially since a few drops of rain have invited themselves and that the brake pedal does not reassure, but not at all.

Painful braking to dose

The Mercedes GLC suffers from a braking feeling problem, like many electric and plug-in hybrids
The Mercedes GLC suffers from a braking feeling problem, like many electric and plug-in hybrids©Mercedes

As on many electric Mercedes or PHEV, the left pedal confuses almost every time it is requested. Between the dead stroke, the variable braking response and the impossible dosage in an emergency, you never get what you ask for. This lack of consistency is not appreciated either by passengers, who sometimes look at you wondering if you might not have had your license in a goodie bag. In fact, when driving in Electric or Hybrid mode (which favors driving without diesel except by pressing hard on the accelerator), it is better to use the different levels of regeneration available, this makes it possible to reduce the use of conventional brakes. In short, this GLC 300 is appreciated in quiet driving and, over short distances, its sobriety is astonishing. Thus, on a course of 126 km for carried out mainly on national, we carried out 124 km in electric. The day before, with more motorway, on the 151 km swallowed, the battery had ensured 107 km, for a diesel consumption of 2.6 l/100 km on average according to the on-board computer. As for knowing how much fuel this SUV requires when its battery is discharged, we will have to wait for a measurement session in Montlhéry. But given the weight of pachyderm, do not expect miracles. Even if the diesel should limit the body compared to the hybrid gasoline variants 300 e and 400 e. Clearly, with this SUV, it will be necessary and even more than usual, to fill the battery as often as possible so that its use makes sense. The good news is that the charging power is not limited to 11 kW, as is common on plug-in hybrids. As an option, we can opt for 60 kW, which would allow, according to the star, to raise the battery in 30 minutes on the fast terminals.

A welcoming family, except on the trunk side

The trunk version "of" is very limited with regard to the size of the machine
The trunk of the “de” version is very limited with regard to the size of the machine©Mercedes

Mercedes does not deny anything to this second generation of GLC, whose modernity is apparent above all from the treatment of the front and rear optics. The interior has many similarities with that of the latest C-Class. On the menu, a much better integration of the central screen than on the previous generation, knowing that the slab takes care of access to essential functions. No need to enter the menus whether to change the temperature or activate the air recirculation. The excellent quality of the screens overshadows certain savings (such as the mediocre plastic at the base of the air vents), the storage spaces are practical between the front seats and the state-of-the-art equipment. Which does not mean irreproachable, like reading the signs, which regularly found us a speed limit of 40 km/h… on the highway. Finally, the GLC offers a fairly spacious interior, especially in the rear seats. The trunk is less convincing, the fault of the bulky battery, which nibbles from the loading height and removes the tray under the floor (replaced by a small cable storage compartment). Mercedes announces a capacity of 470 dm³ for the 300, against 620 dm³ in a 220d.

Moreover, it is with this 220d diesel that the GLC arrives in concessions in mid-September, from €60,700, when a BMW X3 xDrive 20d with 190 hp is offered from €56,400. For this 300 version of 4MATIC of the GLC, it will be necessary to wait until mid-December, knowing that, because of the enormous battery, the bill will increase by at least 12,000 €. Given the constraints imposed, not sure that the game is worth the candle for everyone.

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