The Mercedes-Benz GLC is a handsome beast, this acknowledged by some appreciative waves from sidewalk strutters as I passed by, making the whole driving experience (even in the traffic) just that much more pleasurable.

Cars are tactile things and before even getting to power and performance, it is the sensation of the seats, the leather, the steering wheel and the cabin ambience that sets a tone and path for buyers – if you are not absolutely comfortable and happy sitting in the car while it is stationary, don’t buy it because you will likely come to hate it as each payment waves your wallet goodbye.

The GLC is certainly comfortable enough, the electrically adjustable seats moving into just the right position for the driver, while touch and slide controls on the multi-function steering wheel take care of many oft-used necessities.

The 12,3-inch high-resolution LCD screen in front of the driver appears to float, while the 11,9-inch central display rises seamlessly and without joints from the centre console and, like the dashboard, the screen surface is slightly angled towards the driver. 

With a length of 4,716 mm, it is 60 mm longer and 4 mm lower than its predecessor. The track widths have been increased by 6 mm at the front (now 1,627 mm) and 23 mm at the rear (now: 1,640 mm). The longer vehicle length benefits the wheelbase and the front and rear overhangs. The vehicle width has remained the same at 1,890 mm. 

The luggage capacity benefits from the larger rear overhang and has increased significantly to 620 litres (+70 litres compared to the preceding model) and it has achieved this growth without growing bulky, retaining all of its ease of manoeuvrability and never becoming intimidating in more confined spaces.

The Mercedes-Benz GLC300d 4Matic Avantgarde steps into the rings at R1 426 244 before any of the options are added on. This puts it in the same price playpen as the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque D200 Autobiography, Volvo XC90 B5 AWD Plus Dark and Audi SQ5 Sportback TFSI quattro.

The test car came fitted with R268 943 worth of optional extras such as the Off-Road Engineering Package, AMG-line Exterior, Engineering Package and Premium Package and, while I understand the marketing philosophy behind the German automaker’s love for optional add-ons, I sincerely believe in this day and age where customer expectation is already so high, the ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ approach is far more appealing to buyers.

Indeed, sometimes making sense of the various option packages is overly complicated especially when there conditions that say “if you want A you have to have Z”!

And, talking of buyer expectations – at this price level it is hard to understand why items such as autonomous braking and automatic headlight adjustment are not standard but buried deep in one of the option deals.

Nit-picking perhaps, but it is kind of inevitable when it is really hard to find any fault with the current crop of Mercedes-Benz products, the GLC just one of them.

The cars are well designed, superbly engineered, inviting to drive and exude an ambience that make them a nice place to be.

One of the defining design highlights of the GLC is the front end, with headlamps that connect directly to the radiator grille to emphasise the vehicle’s width, and the new radiator grille as part of the standard Avantgarde exterior, which has a chrome surround and a sporty louvre in matt grey with chrome trim. 

The body design is characterised by a full, spanned surface design with shaped edges on the sides that emphasise the proportions, accentuate the wheel arches and create a balance between elegance and off-road performance.

The GLC is available only as a mild hybrid with 48-volt technology and an integrated starter-generator (ISG) and includes the 48-volt electrical system, which enables functions such as ‘gliding’, boost or recuperation and significant fuel savings.

The 2,0-litre turbo-diesel engine generates 215 kW and 550 Nm driving through a 9-speed automatic gearbox to propel it from rest to 100 km/h in 6,4 seconds and to a top end around the 240 km/h mark.

For a large-frame vehicle weighing in at 2 570 kilograms, the GLC is remarkably agile both on and offroad and this is largely due to a four-link suspension at the front and a multi-link independent rear suspension mounted to a subframe.

The standard suspension provides a high level of damping, ride and noise comfort, agile handling and driving enjoyment. It is equipped with an amplitude-dependent damping system. In conjunction with the AMG Line Exterior, the GLC has a sports suspension. 

The Engineering package (optional) with Airmatic air suspension includes level control and rear-axle steering. 

Thanks to more powerful environment sensors, the parking systems support the driver when manoeuvring, improving safety and comfort. Integration into MBUX makes operation more intuitive and is supported by the visual display. 

Standard equipment for offroad use includes an off-road driving mode and DSR (Downhill Speed Regulation). 

The new off-road screen uses the two displays for clearly arranged information, controls and functions. Among other things, the driver’s display shows inclination, gradient, topographical altitude, geo-coordinates and a compass as well as road speed and engine speed when operation is with an internal combustion engine.

In addition, the central display shows the current position of the SUV on the terrain as well as the steering angle of the front wheels and, if rear-wheel steering is available, the steering direction of the rear wheels. All the driving functions relevant to off-road operation can be controlled very easily on one screen. 

The Engineering package (optional) with Airmatic air suspension brings its comfort advantages to bear when off-road, where it offers additional benefits. For example, it allows a high ground clearance off-road, regardless of the load, and a long suspension travel for the best possible traction. The rear-axle steering increases off-road manoeuvrability even further, while the 4MATIC all-wheel drive provides traction on any surface.

In concert with the mild hybrid the GLC 300d has a miserly fuel consumption and our test run returned an average of 5,6 l/100 km, giving it a tank range upwards of 1 000 kilometres in normal usage conditions.

It is an extremely easy car to live and work with, capable beyond its intended use offroad pushing it into the ‘ideal’ range when it comes to balancing work and play.

Colin Windell – proudly ALL THINGS MOTORING