FIRST DRIVE: Mercedes-Benz GLC

FIRST DRIVE: Mercedes-Benz GLC

The luxury vehicle segment in New Zealand has always been a two-way fight between BMW and Audi — but not this year.

In 2015 Mercedes has stormed to the top of the sales charts, leaping over both the other Germans. Why?

While the magnificent new C-Class sedan will have made up a significant part of the reason, the big reason comes attached to three small letters — S, U and V.

In the past, Mercedes was caught short by the explosion of small and mid-size SUVs in New Zealand, leaving it standing in BMW and Audi’s metaphorical (and literal) dust as they made the most of the SUV boom.

But Mercedes came at the problem with typical German efficiency and diligently worked away at plugging literally every gap in its product range with some seriously convincing SUVs.

And now we have the final piece in the SUV puzzle and, it is safe to say, the biggest missing piece — a mid-size SUV.

Aimed squarely at the BMW X3 and Audi Q5, the new GLC comes to New Zealand in three models, with a choice of three engines and two equipment levels.

The GLC 220d starts the range with a 125kW/400Nm 2.1-litre 4-cylinder diesel turbo engine and comes with 19-inch alloy wheels, park assist, power tailgate, electric mirrors and side steps, Artico upholstery, electric seats, Garmin navigation, keyless start, ambient lighting, collision prevention assist and blind spot warning. The GLC 220d costs $89,900 and comes standard with Mercedes’ 4matic AWD system and a 9G-tronic 9-speed automatic transmission, as do all GLCs sold in New Zealand at launch.

The GLC 250 is up next and adds 20-inch alloys, keyless entry, privacy glass and Mercedes’ full driver assist package to the GLC 220d’s spec. The GLC 250 is powered by a 155kW/300Nm 2.0-litre 4-cylinder petrol turbo engine and costs $94,900.

Rounding out the range is the GLC 250d that features the same standard equipment as the petrol GLC 250, but is powered by a 150kW/500Nm version of the 2.1-litre four-cylinder diesel and costs $96,900.

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