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LATEST CAR REVIEWS

First Drive in Frankfurt: Merecedes GLC

A LOT happened in one day at the recent launch of the revised Mercedes GLC mid-size SUV. Not only did I get to drive the car with its new 2-litre diesel engine, I also got to try out the GLC F-Cell (hydrogen fuel-cell) hybrid. And I drove the outrageously fast GLC AMG 63 V8 4-litre (0-100kmh/3.8secs, 510bhp, 700Nm) powerhouse.
I also took the car, in Coupé guise, over a challenging off-road track. Not bad, eh?
The GLC, rival for the likes of the Volvo XC60, Audi Q5 and BMW X3, benefits from nip, tuck and tidy styling enhancements, as well as the inclusion of the MBUX infotainment system.
More important still is the arrival of their own new 4cyl, 2-litre diesel and petrol powerplants. They are part of a €3bn engine development plan which defies the claim that diesel is dead. Important too is the arrival of a two-wheel-drive version.
With lower emissions due to the engine and 2WD, the price comes down and now starts from €48,040 (Coupé from €51,540).
This 2-litre is a major improvement on the old 2.1-litre that noisily pushed so many GLC stablemates down the years. This quickly settled into quiet mode and had loads of pulling power.
The “new” GLC (standard, Coupé) gets to Ireland for the 192-plate next month.
On sale from launch (all with 4cyl engines) will be a 200 4Matic, 300 4Matic, 200d 4matic, 220d 4matic and a 300d 4matic.
The most popular will be the GLC 200d and GLC 220d (standard, Coupe) with 2WD on both.
Expect a petrol hybrid later and a diesel plug-in this time next year.
While the 200d and 220d are the core cars (I drove the 300d 4matic), other variants were at opposite ends of the spectrum: the AMG 63 and Hydrogen F-Cell hybrid.
The latter is a fascinating prospect. The battery pack is under the boot, while accommodating the hydrogen tank necessitated raising the rear seats by 3mm. But you’d hardly notice, as there is such an amount of headroom due to the tall roofline. The rest of the car is untouched. Talk about a good fit – even the engine bay layout and size is unchanged.
It’s straightforward to fill up and/or charge. On the road it was electric-car quiet, really quick off the mark and mid-speed responsive. Heavily insulated, we didn’t notice road/tyre noise.
We drove it against the backdrop of news that a coordinated Irish attempt to promote and develop hydrogen as a power source had begun. Ireland hasn’t taken hydrogen seriously – yet.
Then we took the GLC AMG63 for a 100km-plus drive near Frankfurt. This is simply the fastest mid-size SUV in the world, they say. On the basis of intermittent bursts of speed and acceleration, I believe them. Ditto for their top speed claim of 280km/hour. There was one unlimited stretch of autobahn where… well, maybe it’s best not to go into too much detail.
This let us briefly sample what genuine power can do to a car and its driver.
Anyway, those updated “GLC family” models come hot on the heels of five new arrivals from Mercedes this year. Seven more are due: a new V-Class, GLS, EQC, GLA Shooting Brake and GLB 7-seater (October).
By the way, the MBUX multimedia system and its ‘Hey Mercedes’ signature expand with each model phase. Driver assistance systems include distance, brake and steer assist with automatic speed monitoring.
There is a 9spd 9G-Tronic automatic transmission and a long menu of on/off-road drive modes, dynamic body control suspension and drive settings, etc.
The car is going to be driven on the tarmac but for the 1pc who’ll take it off-road, I think you’ll find it impressive. It, and its technology, coped well with serious climbs, plunging descents, three-wheel passages and heavy slants.
But let’s finish on a high (performance and price). The “hot” AMG 63 4Matic will cost north of €123,000 for the 8cyl 476hp version, with the S variant (510hp) yours for around €136,000.
All in a day’s driving.

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The Electric vehicle revolution means sales people need knowledge

I doubt the sales executives in dealerships have ever had to learn, or impart, as much information. Sure, we hear about people going into dealers with their minds made up on what they are going to buy after working everything through online. But that is usually accompanied by a detailed list of questions. Now when it comes to anything electric (hybrid to full EV) the time taken to inform and impart runs to extraordinary lengths. It can run to a couple of hours (James Brooks of Kia mentioned as much in a presentation this week).
The sales exec has to be the go-to person, especially in the chaos around the electric revolution.
It’s a bit like starting all over again. And I, for one, am glad of that. We had got to a stage where selling had become functional in too many cases. Now there is real engagement. That’s how it should be. People will make better choices and not end up, as happened in the past, with buyers driving off in a diesel to cover 7,000kms a year.
This just in – the new Peugeot 508SW
Peugeot have just announced prices and specifications for the new 508 SW (pictured). The estate starts from €34,110 excluding delivery-related charges.
That’s for the Active 1.5 BlueHDi diesel 130bhp 6spd manual. With order books open they expect first deliveries from July 1.
With the same front as the 508 fastback, the estate’s gives the bodyline a slick look.
Load space is from 530 litres with the luggage cover closed and extends to 1,780 litres when the rear seats are flattened.
There are Active, Allure, GT Line and GT trims. And there are two new petrols and four diesel options. These are based on the 1.6-litre PureTech petrol and 1.5-litre BlueHDi and 2.0-litre BlueHDi engines.
At the end of the year we’ll see a 225bhp plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version. They are claiming a pure-electric range of range of 50km (WLTP).

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