Mercedes offers V6 diesel power with the GLC SUV at last
Mercedes-Benz GLC buyers have been spoiled for choice with petrol engines. Encompassing a range of six-cylinder and, more recently, eight-cylinder units, it’s a broad range with clear luxury kudos. How strange, then, that the volume diesel range has been restricted to four-cylinder choices, either a 2.1-litre 220 d or 250 d.
No longer. The firm has belatedly brought a V6 diesel over to the UK, and offers the new 350 d option in the full range of trims from SE to AMG Line. It costs more, of course: £6000 on top of a 220d and £4500 more than a 250d. But you get more too, particularly power: 257bhp, backed up by 457lb ft of torque.
You get fewer miles to the gallon, naturally. Combined economy of 47.9mpg is mated to CO2 emissions that go up to 159g/km. Private buyers won’t like this and, due to the benefit-in-kind tax implications, company car drivers even less. But think of the refinement: making the GLC feel posher and smoother is the reason why the new V6 is here. Can it pull it off?
Luxuriousness certainly goes up a notch. This is a simply superb engine. The 3.0-litre motor pulls from walking-pace revs and blends beautifully with the standard nine-speed automatic gearbox. It serves up a pretty pace, too, with 0-62mph taking 6.2 seconds, yet never becoming gravelling or harsh as it does this.
Mercedes-Benz GLC 350 d AMG Line
Engine: V6, 2987cc, turbocharged, diesel
Kerb weight: 1890kg
Gearbox: Nine-speed auto
Top speed: 148mph
Economy: 47.9mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 159g/km, 33%
If you’re picking the V6, choose the optional air suspension with it. It’s positively sumptuous, wafting over bumps with grace and only occasionally thumping over the stiffest of potholes. It’s worse in the stiffer Sport setting, naturally; you might want to avoid this around town.
Besides, it’s no sports car, despite a well-balanced chassis that has a rear-biased power distribution. It’s accurate enough, but both the Jaguar F-Pace and Porsche Macan have much more poise and feel. The GLC also rolls more, which hurts its agility.
Interior quality seems better than the Jaguar, and its overall ambience is very modern and sophisticated. It doesn’t quite have the substance to match the Porsche though, with a few too many creaky buttons and slightly lightweight trims for a machine that you can easily spend upwards of £50,000 on: our test car was priced at well over £53,000.
Mercedes gets the fundamentals right, though. The seats are excellent, the infotainment screen is intuitive and rear-seat passengers shouldn’t have any complaints. The boot may not be class-leading but it’s a practical shape, and standard split-fold seats create a hefty 1600-litre load space if maximum capacity is all.
Does the GLC 350d manage to convince us it’s worth the extra cost, worse fuel economy and increased tax liabilities over the lesser GLC 220d, then? Really, there’s perhaps no comparison. The 220d feels a lesser machine and will ultimately appeal to a different set of customers. The 350d is pricier but it’s a more impressive car overall; ignore the price and it oozes appeal.
It’s now the best GLC on sale, and thus one of the most impressive premium SUVs you can buy. You should still go for the Porsche Macan if you’re after the ultimate in sportiness, but if you’re after the most luxurious machine you can buy, look no further than this Mercedes.