Mercedes has taken the wraps off its new midsize soft roader. Joining the GLA and GLE in Mercedes’ rapidly expanding model range, the GLC is designed to tackle the likes of the BMW X3 and Audi Q5.

Mercedes has adapted the design language debuted on its high-riding GLC Coupe into the GLC production model. Gone is the low rear roofline and coupe-aping window line, although the sleek styling resulting from Mercedes' effort to ignore traditional four-wheel drive design cues remains.

The new GLC is significantly longer and wider than the GLK it replaces. It's wheelbase has been extended by 118 mm (4.6 in), helping create an extra 57 mm of rear legroom and allowing Mercedes to create a wider door openings – both seemingly insignificant details that could still make a difference to family-oriented buyers on the showroom floor.

The GLC’s engine lineup will be far more efficient than the range available on the car it replaces, offering fuel savings of up to 19 percent. The entry-level car at launch will be the diesel powered GLC 220d 4MATIC, which offers up 125 kW (170 hp) and 400 Nm of torque: good enough for a 0-100 km/h (62mph) time of 8.3 seconds. Fuel consumption is the 220d’s real strong suit, using just 5.5 l/100km on the combined cycle and emitting between 129 and 143 g/km of CO2.

There is no economy penalty for stepping up to the GLC 250d, which returns identical fuel use figures but hits 100 km/h (62 mph) in 7.6 seconds thanks to an extra 25 kW (34 hp) and 100 Nm of torque over the entry level diesel. Although less efficient than its diesel stablemates, the petrol powered GLC 250 with its 155 kW (211 hp) and 350 Nm is the quickest to 100 km/h, topping the ton in just 7.3 seconds.

Flying the eco-friendly flag the highest is the GLC 350e plug-in hybrid, which can cover 34 km in all-electric mode. Thanks to a combined 240 kW (327 hp) system derived from that in the S-Class and C-Class hybrids, the car will also hit 100 km/h in just 5.9 seconds on its way to a top speed of 235 km/h (146 mph), while Mercedes is claiming CO2 emissions of just 60 g/km of CO2.

Although they’re attached to the idea of the raised ride height and visibility that comes with buying an SUV, buyers also demand car-like handling, something Mercedes is aiming to address with the GLC’s Air Body Control. The system is coupled with Mercedes’ Dynamic Select system, and is able to lower the suspension by 15mm when drivers get into the twisties. Alternatively, the ride can be raised up and softened for cruising, but stiffens itself up within just 60 milliseconds if it senses particularly vigorous driving that might lead to a rollover.

In the (perhaps rare) event that the luxury SUV heads off-road, the ride height can be raised by 50mm for greater ground clearance.

As you’d expect of a luxury car like the GLC, there is a raft of active safety features available, including a crosswind assistance system that stops the car being set off course by a strong cross breeze on the freeway.

View gallery - 27 images