Mercedes GLC hybrid review
The Mercedes GLC is available in both 300 e (petrol-electric) and 300 de (diesel-electric) form, offering two different takes on the luxury plug-in hybrid SUV formula
- Fast and powerful
- Company-car friendly
- Less agile than BMW
- Step in boot floor
|Car type||Electric range||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions|
|Plug-in hybrid||26-31 miles||118-157mpg||47-57g/km|
Mercedes has offered a plug-in hybrid version of its GLC mid-size family SUV in other markets for some time, but only since the facelifted car arrived in 2020 have UK buyers been treated to this tax-busting model. It's available in both GLC 300 e (petrol-electric) and GLC 300 de (diesel-electric) forms, but for the time being we've only driven the former.
The GLC is a rival for the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Volvo XC60 and Jaguar F-Pace hybrids, and the 300 e uses a familiar 2.0-litre petrol-electric setup from elsewhere in the Mercedes range, producing a combined 316bhp. The result is an astonishing 0-62mph time of just 5.7 seconds – and on the road the plug-in GLC feels every bit as fast as those figures suggest.
In its default drive mode, the GLC 300 e will prioritise electric power for up to 31 miles – as long as you aren’t too heavy with your right foot. Leave it in this setting and the intelligent regenerative braking system will read the road ahead, taking care of all but the most evasive braking manoeuvres – all the while feeding energy back into the battery that would otherwise be lost.
That 13.5kWh battery can be topped up in just over two and a half hours using a 7.4kW home wallbox charger, or you can just use a standard domestic socket and still be done comfortably overnight, ready to go for another zero-emissions commute in the morning.
As you might expect, the diesel-electric GLC 300 de is the more efficient of the two versions, with claimed fuel economy topping out at 157mpg (versus 118 for the petrol) and CO2 emissions as low as 47g/km (versus 57 for the petrol). That last figure is important, as it means the GLC 300 de is in a lower company-car Benefit-in-Kind (BiK) tax band than the GLC 300 e (10% versus 12%). That could be the clincher for many.
Unfortunately, ranged against cars like the X3 hybrid, the Mercedes doesn’t feel quite as sharp or fun to drive – in petrol-electric form at least. It’s agile enough, but its forte is quiet, urban commutes and comfortable cruising. You’ll never hear the engine at 70mph; the only noticeable sound is a little wind noise around the door mirrors. It also strikes a slightly better balance between comfort and agility than the Volvo XC60, which can feel a little too wallowy in corners at times.
That aforementioned facelift has given the GLC a much-needed mid-life nip and tuck, and as such it feels every bit as modern and luxurious as more modern rivals. The interior is as slick as anything this side of a Mercedes S-Class, with Artico man-made leather on the seats and all but the entry-level version getting a glorious 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and large central screen.
In addition to this, you can add various packs; our test car was equipped with the Premium Plus options, which comprise fully digital instruments, 64-colour ambient lighting, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone connectivity and augmented-reality sat nav (which superimposes direction arrows on pictures relayed from a front-facing camera. This specification also includes a panoramic roof and 20-inch alloy wheels.
As is the case with a number of plug-in hybrid models, practicality takes a minor hit – the GLC 300 e has a small step in the boot floor. As if that’s not enough, due to the placement of the batteries, Mercedes is unable to offer any under-floor storage – meaning unless you leave them at home, the car’s charging cables must sit alongside your bread and milk in the boot.
Another downside is that, as well as not being as good to drive as its BMW rival, the petrol-electric GLC isn't as efficient as another major competitor – the Audi Q5 TFSI e. It may well be that, as is the case with the E-Class executive saloon – the diesel plug-in hybrid option actually makes more sense, particularly for those who regularly exceed the car's pure-electric range on their journeys.