By Mike Torpey on 2019-10-13 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
250 AMG Line
A PRIVATE courier service ferried me to an appointment in north-east England the other week and met me at a mainline railway station.
When I asked the driver if he was using a Mercedes-Benz E-Class model out of preference or necessity his reply took me by surprise.
He said that much as he has enjoyed driving cars made by the likes of BMW, Jaguar and Audi in the past, these days it has to be Mercedes if he wants the work.
Says a lot for the esteem in which the German brand is held.
The journey coincided with my driving a Mercedes GLC, a second generation mid-size SUV that has faced stiff opposition of its own.
Once again it has succeeded in combining exceptional engineering and refinement with strong engines, and given buyers an interesting extra choice as well.
Based on the successful C-Class, the GLC is split into two separate bodystyles - SUV and Coupe.
Our model was the SUV, for which Mercedes has stuck rigidly to a five-seat strategy, preferring to provide owners with plenty of luggage space rather than an extra pair of occasional seats.
If the coupe variant is an eye-catching vehicle with a sleek body and featuring a single louvre front grille and sloping roof line, the SUV is a stand-out model in its own right.
Its cabin is trademark Mercedes with heavy duty plastics, comfortably firm seats, strong switchgear and that overall feeling of prestige that Benz fans have grown to expect.
Also included is the latest Mercedes infotainment set-up, while adding a Premium Plus Package - admittedly for an extra £2,995 - brings the likes of Comand Online with 8.4-inch media display, panoramic glass sunroof, ambient lighting and Burmester surround sound.
As for the boot, you get a 550-litre capacity - slightly more than with the coupe bodystyle - which is sufficient for most family outings, and there's underfloor storage too. The tailgate also opens and closes electrically.
Beneath the bonnet is a family of four and six-cylinder turbocharged petrol and diesel engines, while all-wheel drive and automatic transmission is standard on every model.
Opt for the GLC 250 and you get a 2.0-litre four cylinder petrol unit developing 211bhp and mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission with manual mode.
There's plenty of punch when you need it from a car that's smooth and refined to drive, though the company's practice of having a steering column-mounted gear selector takes some getting used to.
Near silent and polished, there's a precise feel from the leather flat-bottomed speed sensitive steering and Air Body Control suspension (a Â£1,495 option) can be set for a comfortable or more sporting drive.
It means the car floats over bumpy or loose surfaces and while heading off-road isn't one of the GLC's major selling points, you do get the company's 4MATIC all-wheel drive system along with dynamic driving modes.
Safety and security features are countless, stuff like Active Parking Assist, collision prevention, adaptive brake lights, attention assist and a reversing camera all standard.
Paying £1,695 more brings extra features including those for lane keeping and blind spot assistance.
Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 AMG Line
Mechanical: 211bhp, 1,991cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving four-wheels via 9-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 138mph
0-62mph: 7.3 seconds
Combined MPG: 37.7
Insurance Group: 33
C02 emissions: 174g/km
Bik rating: 37%
Warranty: 3yrs/unlimited miles
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