REVIEW: New Mercedes GLC 300d is one classy oil-burning SUV

Published Oct 12, 2023


While Mercedes-Benz focusses a lot of their future plans on New Energy Vehicles (NEV), at least they haven’t started to throw the baby out with the bathwater yet.

That means you still get a decent selection of internal combustion engines and we’re that much happier for it.

And while the world continues to frown on diesel as a fossil fuel, Merc are still happy to put them in their cars and specifically in the GLC 300d we recently had on test.

Based on the ever-popular C-Class this third generation SUV has grown considerably in size and sophistication.

Back to the diesel though, and despite it being called a 300d, it is in fact a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-charged mill with 198kW and 550Nm, coupled to a very smooth nine-speed auto ‘box.

There is some NEV technology though with a mild hybrid system that adds 17kW and 200Nm of boost, used mostly at low speeds like cruising around estates or in traffic jams.

Mercedes claims a 0-100km/h time of 6.3 seconds, with a top speed of 243km/h, and after spending some time with it I think they’re pretty much on the button.

Consumption is a claimed 6.1l/100km and after a week's combined driving it stood at 6.4l/100km, not far off the mark.

Our test car was fitted with the optional AMG Line package that adds just that little bit of extra glamour and good looks and fitted from the options list was the Airmatic air suspension and rear-wheel steering.

I particularly liked the rims which perfectly rounded off the rather large SUV.

The interior is modern contemporary Mercedes-Benz with a leather lined dash, multi-positional seats, ambient lighting and all-round superior quality on everything you can see or touch.

As we’ve become accustomed to there’s lots of glass, with a 12.3-inch LCD screen facing the driver, which can be set to various options including “classic”, which I prefer, while still giving you consumption, distance and other important readouts.

There’s an 11.9-inch touchscreen infotainment display which, with a bit of experimentation, will get you used to how it operates including the sat nav, which strangely couldn’t find one or two addresses I was looking for that were on Google Maps and Waze.

The round air conditioning vents and kevlar-style inlays give an added impression of quality.

The voice recognition works well mostly but while it’s a handy addition for relatively simple instructions, it doesn’t always understand what you want.

The chunky flat bottomed steering wheel fitted perfectly into my hand but I would occasionally inadvertently move my thumb over one of the buttons, which would change a setting.

With the air suspension the GLC 300d wafts along effortlessly, belying the 20-inch rims and with an almost perfect raised driving position it’s a pleasure to pilot.

Suburban speed bumps varying from gentle to darn-right almost lethal are taken care of effortlessly as are inevitable potholes.

It takes a while to get used to the rear steering but once you do it feels decidedly un-SUV-like, hugging bends and turns on a drive out to the Magaliesburg with ease.

Acceleration is swift considering its size and weight at just over two tons and while ultimately it’s a diesel family SUV, it will gladly hunker down at speed in a straight line with minimum road or wind noise.

But it's cruising on long trips that makes you want to be behind the wheel. The GLC 300d is a perfect touring companion not only because of how well it drives but also the comfortable seating with oodles of space for rear passengers and a very decent 620 litres of boot space.

Our test car was fitted with the Off-Road Engineering Package, included with the 4Matic all-wheel drive, that raises ground clearance, adds Downhill Speed Regulation and a “transparent bonnet” 360 degree camera.

An off-road screen uses both displays to show things like inclination, gradient, altitude, co-ordinates and steering angles of the front and rear wheels.

It’s all very nifty and makes the GLC 300d a capable off-roader and while I was tempted to try it out on a 4x4 track but I think I, like most owners probably would, decided that discretion was the better part of valour.

Plonking a R1,508,837 vehicle on a rocky mountain climb is best left for those that don’t mind punctures, rim rash or underbody knocks and have lenient insurance brokers.

You will however be able to get to a few of the more remote places in some of our game parks and for that as well as its overall drive and performance the GLC 300d is perfect.