March 21, 2020 – Published in Design & Decor Spring 2020 issue
A decade of success
Words Malcolm J. Naudi
Last time I did a test drive of a Mercedes-Benz, I started out with a focus on suspension. This time round I want to throw the spotlight on the new hybrid engine technology that is coming with many of the latest Mercedes-Benz models. No, the model on test did not have this latest technology (although some units are on order) but the tried-and-tested 2.0-litre diesel I have had in other cars I have tested.
So, what is so noteworthy about hybrids? First of all, the concept is that the engine gets an EQ Boost from a plug-in electric motor. This assists the vehicle during acceleration (with huge torque – pulling power – and extra-low emissions, plus superlative fuel consumption) and, in certain situations, the electric motor takes over. The petrol engine switches off, coming back on instantly when you press the accelerator or the battery needs charging.
Secondly, thanks to regenerative technology, during deceleration (braking), the starter/alternator recuperates kinetic energy and charges the battery.
With the GLC and the GLC Coupé, there are two hybrid variants, the 300e 4MATIC and (from the third quarter of this year) the 300de 4MATIC. The 300e comes with a 2.0-litre turbocharged unit with 211 hp at 5,500 rpm. Rated torque is 350 Nm (at 1,200-4,000 rpm). Add to that an additional output of 90 kW and 400 Nm of torque for a total output of 320 hp and 700 Nm – producing 0-100 km/h in just 5.67 seconds.
Combined fuel consumption is just around 2.5 litres/100 km and combined CO2 emissions are around 57 g/km. The range of the electric motor is around 46 km. What the EQ Boost does is it bridges the brief moment before the turbocharger builds up its full charge pressure, apart from charging the battery when you brake.
The turbocharger in the petrol engine uses the twinscroll system. Thanks to the double-flow configuration (the exhaust ducts of each pair of cylinders come together and only join the other two just before the turbine), the torque characteristics have been improved while keeping exhaust counterpressure low.
On level roads or when going on a slight downhill and you lift your foot off the accelerator, the engine goes into ‘glide’ mode. The speed is maintained with the help of EQ Boost, while the petrol engine is decoupled from the powertrain and switches off. It restarts as soon as you press the accelerator or the battery needs recharging.
At low speeds, in traffic or when the traffic lights turn red, the electric motor recuperates kinetic energy thanks to the intelligent engine stop, or enabling the electric motor to take over, shutting off the petrol engine even before the vehicle comes to a halt. Both the glide mode and the recuperation mode help to improve fuel consumption. The stop/start mode enables the engine to come on almost silently minimising vibrations.
Finally, CAMTRONIC variable valve timing allows two-stage adjustment of the valve lift on the intake side. In the partial-load range, a reduced valve lift allows less air into the combustion chamber, reducing load cycle losses. In higher load ranges the system switches to the higher valve lift to achieve the engine’s full power delivery.
But back to the GLC on test, the 220d 4MATIC (as with the petrol engines) comes with a 9G-Tronic automatic transmission and paddle shifts behind the steering wheel. The 194 bhp engine (at 3,800 rpm) meets the Euro 6d standard thanks to an additional selective catalytic reduction (SCR) converter with an ammonia slip catalyst (ASC) in the exhaust gas system. With 400 Nm of rated torque, you accelerate to 100 km/h in 7.9 seconds, achieve a combined consumption of 5.4 litres/100 km and produce CO2 emissions of around 144 g/km.
This is a highly drivable, lovely sized car. My drive took me into traffic as I headed south over the new flyovers in Marsa getting stuck going up the hill to Santa Lucija as works are advanced on the new underpass. The GLC has presence without the greater ostentation of the GLE and the GLS. It is nimble and precise in its handling, with lovely acceleration.
My route took me back north via the airport and then the customary Coast Road loop, up through Burmarrad and back through Mosta to Kind’s.
Your standard kit on the entry level model includes a five-year Service Plan, the MBUX Multimedia System, automatic dual zone climate control, the Mirror Package, Active Brake Assist, headlight and rain sensors; LED headlamps, remote central locking, Dynamic Select, the Me Connect function with voice and gesture control and the Mercedes-Benz Emergency Call System. This costs just under €57,000.
The car on test also had a host of other options: Mojave Silver metallic paint, a panoramic sliding sunroof, the Keyless-Go Package, brown open-pore ash wood trim, Artico man-made leather in silk beige seats (black is also an option), the all-digital instrument display, plus the extended media display, the Smartphone Integration Package, 235/60/R18 twin-spoke light-alloy wheels, ambient lighting and the Parking Package with reversing camera. These push the price up by a further €10,000.
Allow me to end with a reference to my headline. The GLC, which succeeded the GLK, is the most successful Mercedes-Benz SUV, with over 1.5 million units sold in the decade since launch. This is a booming segment for the German carmaker, with one in three models sold being an SUV. The GLC and the GLC Coupé are highly popular with customers because of their compact dimensions, modern luxury typical of the brand and the high level of safety, combined with excellent on-road and off-road characteristics. They are certainly the right size for Malta and come with the famous three-pointed star on the front grill.
Visit the Auto Sales showroom in Lija to book a test drive, or book online by visiting: www.autosales.com.mt