Express & Star

First Drive: Can the Mercedes GLC300e blend efficiency and performance?

The latest GLC has been equipped with an ultra-efficient plug-in hybrid setup. Jack Evans finds out what it’s like.

Mercedes GLC

What is it?

Mercedes GLC
The GLC feels quiet and composed

The Mercedes GLC plays a key role in the firm’s SUV line-up. Effectively its mid-size model, it’s a car which weighs in against rivals like the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 in a segment which remains extremely popular with buyers.

The previous-generation GLC was itself a really big hit, so how do you go about taking things up a level? That’s where this new model comes in and we’ve been behind the wheel to see what it’s like.

What’s new?

Mercedes GLC
The plug-in hybrid GLC features all-wheel-drive

Core to the new GLC is the widespread use of hybrid technology. That’s either through mild- or plug-in hybrid setups – the latter of which we’re driving today – bringing added efficiency and lower emissions in the process. More on that later.

Elsewhere, we’ve got an even more upmarket exterior design than before while inside the GLC now benefits from the latest technology Mercedes has to offer, with a super-large screen that we’ve seen used in a variety of the firm’s latest models.

What’s under the bonnet?

Mercedes GLC
The GLC’s charging port is handily located

As we’ve mentioned, there’s hybrid technology running right the way through the new GLC line-up. The plug-in hybrid version we’re driving here – badged GLC300e – combines a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor and a large (for a plug-in hybrid) 31.2kWh battery. It’s able to deliver up to 80 miles of electric-only range, while Mercedes quotes a combined consumption figure of 565mpg. That might sound amazing, but you’ll need to be running on battery power alone for most of the time to achieve that.

Performance is more than brisk enough, too, with 0-60mph being dispatched in 6.5 seconds. Plus, it’ll take around two and a half hours to fully charge that battery when using a home wallbox.

What’s it like to drive?

Mercedes GLC
The GLC’s exterior design has been revised

Of course, that super electric-only range is what you notice most about your first experiences with the GLC. It means you drive it largely like a full EV and because it can be used at speeds of up to 87mph, it isn’t restricted to slower, more local roads – you can fly along in EV mode on the motorway, too. It’s all very relaxing, helped no end by a lack of any squeaks or rattles from the cabin. Self-levelling suspension comes as standard on plug-in hybrids, too, and this helps to make things feel even more refined.

When combined with electric power that 2.0-litre engine works well, too. However, once you’re completely out of charge, that petrol engine does feel a little strained and makes its presence known when you really need to accelerate. It’s definitely best to keep the battery charged up, that’s for sure.

How does it look?

Mercedes GLC
Large wheels come as standard on all models

Mercedes has sharpened up the look of the GLC nicely. You’re still able to see the lineage between this car and the one it replaces, but things have been spruced up in all the right areas. The front end appears wider and more in keeping with the rest of the Mercedes range than before, while ‘our’ test car in AMG Line Premium specification brought a series of more dynamic touches including a sportier body kit and 20-inch alloy wheels.

The electric charging port has been located in quite a traditional place, too, on the left-hand side where you’d expect to find the usual fuel filler cap. You’ll fill up with petrol on the opposite site.

What’s it like inside?

Mercedes GLC
The cabin feels particularly high-tech

It’s hard to ignore the huge level of technology inside the cabin of the GLC. Things are dominated by the large screen in the centre of the dash, flanked by the full driver’s display ahead. When coupled with a full package of ambient lighting it can all get a bit distracting – more so at night – to the point where we had to switch off the interior lighting just to tone things down.

But you can’t fault the passenger space on offer, with good levels of head and legroom available. Boot space, however, is a little under what you’d expect from a car of this size. At 395 litres, it’s well under the 500 litres you’d get from the non-plug-in hybrid version, so if space is what you’re after you might be better served with a ‘regular’ GLC.

What’s the spec like?

Mercedes GLC
The driver’s display can be configured to show a variety of readouts

Prices for the GLC range kick off from £51,855 but hike up to £62,210 for the plug-in hybrid we’re looking at here. AMG Line starts the hybrid’s list of specifications, bringing 19-inch alloys as standard alongside that large 11.9-inch infotainment screen and 12.3-inch instrument cluster – so even ‘base’ cars get plenty of equipment as standard.

‘Our’ AMG Line Premium Plus car added to this with 20-inch alloy wheels, a full panoramic glass sunroof, head-up display and a premium Burmester 3D surround sound system. This does, however, whack the price up significantly, with our test car coming in at a hefty £72,925.


The plug-in hybrid GLC feels like one of the most accomplished cars of its type on sale today, mainly because of that hugely impressive electric range. It’ll lower fuel bills as a result, while company car buyers will no doubt be attracted by the GLC’s five per cent benefit-in-kind tax rate.

For more everyday drivers, we feel that the heavily reduced boot space might prove to be a little too limiting. That said, the low running costs might be enough to offset this practicality drawback for many.

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