It’s a beautiful evening in Hampi, Karnataka. The weather is cool and crisp, and the second generation Mercedes-Benz GLC is waiting to be unveiled, with the wind whipping up its covers.
The GLC has been a best-seller for Mercedes in India, but the model was unavailable for the past few months of 2022; the previous generation was phased out. A year after its global debut, Mercedes-Benz has brought in the second generation. Set against the stately backdrop of the Evolve Back resort in the stunning city of Hampi, the luxury SUV looks right at home once the covers drop.
The silhouette is similar, but it’s a lot smoother and softer. Up front, the three-pointed star sits in the centre of a single bar that runs across the centre of the grille. New headlamps spread out from the grille. Overall, there is more chrome around the car; you see it in the under-guard area at front and rear, around the grille, the windows, the roof rails and the side step that’s considerately tapered so you don’t dirty your trousers stepping in and out. There is a smart set of dual-tone alloys, and you get 19” wheels. Around the rear, there are a slimmer set of new LED lamps connected by a blackend bar running across the tailgate. Under the tailgate is 70 litres more boot space, making it the best boot in its class—this is a plus point, especially when buying an SUV. The spare is under the floorboard, so it doesn’t impede into the storage area, and you can flip down the rear seats at the touch of a button in the boot to open up more space when required.
Overall, the car has increased in dimensions. While a large part has gone into increased boot space, the rear seat also offers more room now. The seats, however, are a bit firm, and the base, a bit short. Still, it is a comfortable space with enough leg- and headroom, and with the panoramic roof open, it does feel quite open. While you get the AC vents, USB C ports and the armrest, the car misses sun blinds for the rear seat. The significant changes are up front, where the dash is far more modern and carries the pinstripe look we have seen in the likes of the Maybach.
The controls have much more digitisation, and you get the large 11.9” portrait-oriented screen with biometric recognition. With all the controls moved to the screen or the haptic bar below for shortcuts, the central console now houses the wireless charger and cupholders. The latest MBUX system offers the voice assistant, and you have wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The car comes packed with features, but misses ventilated seats and a heads-up display.
The new GLC comes in either petrol or diesel variants. Both have a 48V electric motor for added power and efficiency.
Early in the morning, I set off towards the forested area around Hampi.
The car comes on in total silence with the electric motor starting it up, but as soon as I press down on the pedal to get going, it transitions ever so smoothly to petrol power. The 2.0-litre petrol makes 258 hp and 400 Nm of torque, with an additional 23hp and 200 Nm from the electric motor. The electric motor ensures you never feel any turbo lag, and there is a nice linear tug of acceleration. Whenever you demand power, it serves it up. Unfortunately, the 9-speed doesn’t keep pace and works slowly, so you will need to engage the paddles on a spirited drive. The GLC comes with 4 Matic, and the all-wheel drive makes it feel extremely planted, and the steering is more responsive and well-weighted. Winding around the small back roads of Hampi, the GLC feels agile. The steering feels more responsive and weighted as well. However, the terrain also makes me realise that the ride is firmer. It is good enough at low speed, but as you pick up the pace, it thuds through the potholes, not in an uncomfortable way but it doesn’t feel quite as plush as the Audi Q5. Ahead of me is the road across the dam, which looks worse than the moon’s surface. Luckily, the GLC has a trick up its sleeve to make it easier to navigate: the transparent bonnet, where the camera feed views allow you to see what’s under the front of the car. You also get aerial or 360-degree views. Set the camera feed to auto, and the vehicle offers the best view of the surroundings for your drive.
At ₹73.5 lakh for petrol and ₹74.5 lakh for diesel, it is pricier than the competition, but Mercedes has packed it in with features and given 4 Matic as standard. It drives nicely, has plenty of space, and has a class-leading amount of room in the boot. With the allure of the three-pointed star, it will continue to be a best-seller.
Renuka Kirpalani is executive editor (video), Autocar India.
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