We drove the Mercedes GLC 300 de 4Matic: the perfect star for your mobility…

We are living in fast changing times, full of transition. Car markets have grown massively in China (did you know that the GLC has also been built in Beijing since 2011?) and India, influencing the strategy of European car makers, while the EU commission projects for a greener Europe transform the outlook and the nature of our mobility. Besides all that, the choice of a new car is now also influenced by the fiscal treatment it receives, besides of course the concerns for our environment. What car to choose?

We drove here for you this Mercedes which provides an answer to all the changes which will affect our mobility. It is electrified, lets you drive some 100 km in full EV mode and at the same time gives you unlimited long distance mobility with its diesel engine. It is also fit to carry you to far flung places amidst pure nature: it has four driven wheels assisted by all the clever electronics to make you an experienced unpaved terrain driver. Besides that, it is roomy and is also a good towing car.

Does this Mercedes indeed tick all the boxes? Just read further…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Impressive, classic looks…

One instantly recognizes a Mercedes by its styling language, and the overall shape and proportions show clearly what the designers meant it to be. This GLC has a solid stance, but has a sporting flair akin to the C Class. Not unpleasing, and unmistakably Mercedes. The front end has been revised and the headlights are more integrated in the 2023 edition. The interior breathes also the philosophy of the brand: big screens in front of the driver and the same on the centre console, where it takes an eminent position. Well curved and upholstered seats, all functions and knobs solid and well finished. German premium brands make very good use of electronics, and also Mercedes has given this aspect much importance and has given it much thought.

Therefore all the functions are well balanced, ergonomic and mostly intuitive. Of course using it demands nevertheless a distinct learning curve for novices, as the many functions can sometimes be overwhelming. You are therefore well advised to read the manuals about the infotainment and screen functions carefully, it will lead to years of happier life with your Mercedes…but as we said, Mercedes has got things right when it comes to functionality of its infotainment.

We liked a bit less the haptic touches on the steering wheel. Sometimes you touch them while driving with sometimes annoying results. One thing: opening and closing the panoramic roof is not intuitive, so read the manual first.

Workmanship and engineering standards truly impress…

In the good tradition of the oldest manufacturer in the world, the level of finish and the quality of the used materials is what truly impresses. You are surrounded by non frivolous, long-lasting luxury… Typical for the brand are also the seat controls in the door panels, letting you adjust your seating position electronically in a breeze. It pays to carefully study the manual and go through the menus. You will discover that on the large central screen you can touch in your height, and the car will find for you automatically the proper driving position. The ideal climate setting is also soon found and off you go, after having pushed the big starting button. Put the small gearchange lever in D and off you go under silent E-power. As this is a plug-in hybrid, Mercedes has developed their now fourth generation (plug-in) hybrid concept even further. It has developed a so called “improved hybrid driving programme”.

This means that Artificial Intelligence electronics think with you: once you have put in your route, the car’s AI will calculate what is the most economical and environment friendly way to make the journey. If the route leads through urban areas, E-power is automatically preferred, when the route includes open roads and motorways, the car will use the diesel engine. The latest GLC hybrid generation now has a 100 kW electric motor. Marvelously smooth, as E-power goes. You can enjoy its 440 Nm of torque too. When you cruise leasurely on the motorway at 100-110 km/h or so and drive smoothly along with the urban traffic flow, the useable E-range is well above 100 km. In EV mode, it is no sluggard either. You can reach a top speed of not less than 140 km/h solely on E-power. Average E-consumption according to WLTP standards is between 27,2 and 24,4 kWh/100 km.

The battery has an enlarged capacity compared with the previous plug-in hybrid GLC generation. It now carries a 31,2 kWh battery, which is an in-house Mercedes-Benz development. The maximum DC charging power of the GLC PHEV is 60 kW. Even with a completely empty battery, full charging is possible in some 30 minutes. This means that the GLC is an eminently useable EV for urban use and shorter hauls with nevertheless an impressive range thanks to the larger battery. Mercedes has indeed created a very clever balanced concept of how a plug-in hybrid should perform. You can drive your plug-in hybrid Merc in different modes, i.e. Hybrid, Electric and Battery Hold. When you choose the electric mode, you feel in the accelerator pedal a haptic pressure point. Push further and the engine starts too.   

Stability is as you would expect excellent, the suspension is comfortable, wind and road noise are of course well insulated. You can enjoy the sound system, let your eyes wander to the big central touchscreen, and see for example the info of the music which is played over the excellent DAB radio. You are also experiencing how good the seats are, always a strong point of the brand with the good star.


This plug-in hybrid GLC 300 de is built for those who do not want to sacrifice performance and range in these E-times. Indeed, this Mercedes still feels very much at home on the left lane of the Autobahnen. Top speed is a solid 216 km/h, and it accelerates also like the proverbial bullet, a sprint from 0 to 100 km/h is absolved in merely 6,4 seconds. Mind you, this is the performance of a well tuned Jaguar E-type…

The diesel engine is the well proven double overhead cam 1.993 cc 4 cylinder intercooler turbo common rail unit, developing not less than 145 kW or 200 HP at 3000 rpm. Did you ever believe this was possible with a diesel engine? The ponton 180 D, the first Mercedes my father owned in 1955, had also a four cylinder 1,8 litre long stroke unit, was developing some…38 HP. We were so lucky, my father and me, to drive the factory entered 180 D in the Mille Miglia, invited as a member of the official Mercedes Mille Miglia team, together with Stirling Moss, who drove a 300 S… Mind you, our brave Diesel was still able to be almost as fast on the course as the Lancia Aurelia’s, although this called for some very spirited driving! Of course I covet the Shopard watch I have as a memory of this adventure, with our starting number 147 engraved in the back…

Pulling power of this 300 d is abundant, 440 Nm at merely 1600 rpm. The engine has a slightly longer stroke due to a new crankshaft. Total system power is 245 kW (333 HP) and total torque is 750 Nm, hence the excellent performance figures. Of course, this diesel lets itself heard with an unobtrusive deep throb when pressed hard, but even when you are driving your GLC 300 de in a spirited manner, the enormous torque hardly lets the engine rev higher, and everything is comfortably silent indeed.

The beauty of diesels is of course their frugality, they excel when quite substantial power is required over long periods/distances. So driving this GLC doesn’t cost you a fortune at the pump, even with a totally empty battery, you can achieve with this 2-tonne SUV a consumption between 6 and 8 litres/100 km, depending on your driving style of course, one simply cannot bend the laws of physics. The tank capacity is 62 litres, which gives you a radius of some 800 km on Diesel fuel alone. The WLTP consumption is between 0,7-0,5 l/100 km, CO2 emissions are 17-13g/km. The GLC is equipped with a 9 speed automatic gearbox, which in the PHEV layout guarantees a smooth power flow in all circumstances, as the electric motor with its ample torque steps in when the gearbox has to make up its mind which gear to choose under hectic driving.

Comfort and predictable handling with the good star…

We said it already, seating comfort is excellent. The suspension irons out urban street potholes rather well, and strikes a very good balance between handling and comfort. Choosing the “sport” driving mode shows quite decent handling on winding roads, stable, surefooted, predictable. It offers some driving pleasure, but it does not exactly invite you to adopt a brisk driving style. We already told you about finding the ideal position behind the wheel by simply choosing your height on the central touchscreen. But there is more.

There is a finger print sensor which recognizes who you are, and will engage your preferred sound settings. You can choose not less than 7 settings.(!) One word of praise is justified for the Burmeister sound system. Truly to be enjoyed. There is also a large and very readable head up display, with lots of information. It also shows you which driving mode you are in.

There is also a special offroad driving mode. It not only lets you control the drivetrain ideally, it also steers the cameras. Indeed, when you are driving in terrain, the front camera lets you even see what is underneath the bonnet and front wheels, as it “remembers” what it has seen in front and reproduces that again when you are driving over it…

There is enough leg- and headroom for three grownups in the rear, and the rear passengers even have their own climate controls and USB slots. The doorbins are absolutely massive, so there is more than enough room to store your bottles.

Boot space is sufficient, and you can charge your GLC with not less than 625 kg and tow not less than 2000 kg, so this 4WD will certainly prove its worth when you love horses, camping or boats…


This GLC 300 de 4 Matic has already convinced many buyers in its previous generation, and now thanks to its larger battery is striking an ideal balance between E-power and engine propulsion, electronically managed by its improved hybrid driving programme. This results in a well and truly very useable “pure” EV in many situations, thanks to its generous over 100 km “E” range. It is also well built, powerful, roomy, practical and has panache and style. Due to its versatile hybrid character, this might be your car in these times of transition…

Hans Knol ten Bensel        

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