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October 1, 2018

Embracing Tradition with a Hunger for Adventure: Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class

When you’re looking for adventure, it’s got to have the right ingredients: the location, the activity, and of course, the means to get there. For a long drive out of town and into the woods, your best bet would be by way of SUV. And while you’re at it, why not take it up a notch and go in luxury. Enter Mercedes-Benz, a brand recognized all over the world for its heritage roots and premium appeal. And now, it has diversified its name into the SUV segment.

Thirty-nine years ago, the G-Class started it all. From then until now, this iconic model has been the torchbearer of Mercedes-Benz’s SUV legacy through generations. Through its various improvements, including the introduction of an all-new second-generation model, it’s set the bar for a new breed of SUVs that are designed to be sportier, tougher, and aligned to the generation of its day.

Today, there’s the GLC, a nameplate introduced in 2015 to replace the GLK. Arguably, it’s the best-selling model in the Mercedes-Benz SUV line-up globally and it’s not hard to see why. For one, it’s got the looks: modern, minimalist curvature, with lines that border between sporty and elegant; the kind of design that would satisfy a man’s desire for subdued ruggedness or a woman’s penchant for high-shine class.

Inside, the cabin is as premium as one would expect from the three-pointed star, with supple leather trim, convenient seat adjustment controls, and adjustable ambient lighting. The seats themselves hug you in all the right places, a perfect stage to start a long road trip. For entertainment, the GLC is equipped with the latest-generation COMAND. Admittedly, it was awkward to use at first given its inputs are split between the touchpad, control knob, and buttons located on the center console itself; only for things to be exacerbated by the long reach required to operate them.

Front or back, there’s genuine space. In true Mercedes-Benz fashion, passengers can easily forget that they’re in an SUV, instead of a luxury sedan. Ergonomically, it’s sound with enough adjustment to weed out any discomfort.

The ride from Manila to Cavite already proved how sublime it was, but what’s even more surprising is how it drives. Given its muscular appearance and low-profile wheels, you’d expect it to be heavy and stiff. Yet, both the Executive variants—powered by either a 2.0-liter gasoline or diesel engine, fells gentle going through a pre-arranged off-roading course. The GLC 200’s 184 horsepower, 300 Nm of torque output is good, but the GLC 220d is better. Giving up a bit of top-end power (170 horsepower), it makes copious amounts of torque: 440 Nm.

For those who want more driver engagement than the Executive variant’s more genteel behavior, there’s the AMG trim. Exclusively available for the GLC 220d, not only it gets you a sports suspension package, but it’s the one with 4Matic—Mercedes-Benz’s all-wheel drive system. Admittedly, the ride turns bouncier, but thanks to an ultra-stiff body structure, it remains stable and comfortable.

On much smoother tarmac, the GLC truly shines with its luxury sedan levels of handling and ride. The suspension is much more attuned to these environments, absorbing small ruts and imperfections well. Control remains stable and predictable even when driven through a downpour on a twisty highway, be it for the all-wheel drive AMG or rear-wheel drive Executive.

As with any Mercedes-Benz vehicle, the GLC boasts of multiple safety features and technology, including adaptive brake lights, attention assist, and airbag deployment (with side and window bags). In addition, as part of the program, there was a live demonstration of the Mercedes-Benz Active Parking Assist feature, which is a driver-assistive technology that helps drivers maneuver into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces with ease. There is also the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Light System, a technology that self-adjusts the headlight beam direction and light distribution according to the road and weather conditions.

With SUVs like the GLC, Mercedes-Benz is aiming to capture a younger demographic, going beyond being a “legacy brand” that most titos or lolos would remember. Indeed, today’s affluent generation seeks more than just pure opulence; they want a bit more pep in their step in the journey called life. The GLC certainly delivers that—it offers comfort, stability, and driving confidence with a hint of adventure sprinkled in.

Words by Gen Tiu.

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