The 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLC 350e unveiled in Stuttgart, front three-quarter view.
  • Image Credit: AOL - Jonathon Ramsey
Mercedes-Benz intends to introduce at least 10 plug-in hybrid models to the market by 2017, and the the Mercedes GLC350e 4Matic is the latest one to show its electrified face. It's also the second crossover from the company to offer a PHEV version following the GLE550e 4Matic.

Mercedes isn't releasing all of the details about the plug-in GLC yet, but it combines an internal combustion engine making 208 horsepower and a 114 hp electric motor with a seven-speed gearbox. Total torque is 413 pound-feet. The combo is enough to get the all-wheel drive crossover to 62 miles per hour in a purported 5.9 seconds and a claimed top speed of 146 mph. Fuel economy in the European cycle is estimated at the equivalent of about 90 miles per gallon, and there's a 21-mile pure electric range for zero-emissions cruising.

Based around the newly introduced GLC-Class, buyers can still order a plethora of luxurious amenities, but the plug-in powertrain also comes with a few tweaks to help drivers maximize fuel economy. There's a haptic accelerator with a resistance point to indicate the switch between electric and combustion power. In addition, the hybrid system can anticipate the road ahead through radar and GPS to manage things as efficiently as possible.

One of the GLC hybrid's biggest advantages when it arrives is the small field of competitors. Neither BMW nor Audi currently have a compact luxury crossover of this size with a hybrid option in the US. That really only leaves the Mercedes to take on the Lexus NX300h with total system output of 194 hp, and that's not even a plug-in.

The GLC350e 4Matic isn't part of the new model's initial launch lineup in the US. It should be coming along later, though.
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Key topic: Energy efficiency - Economy on four wheels

A revised all-wheel-drive powertrain, the outstanding aerodynamics and the intelligent lightweight design are the primary reasons for the high energy efficiency of all the new GLC models. The conventional diesel and petrol models boast significant reductions of up to 19 percent in both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in comparison to the previous generation, while at the same time improving performance.
GLC 220 d 4MATIC
GLC 250 d
4MATIC
GLC 250
4MATIC
Output, kW/hp
125/170
150/204
155/211
Torque, Nm
400
500
350
Fuel consumption (l/100 km)
5.0 - 5.5
(6.1 - 6.5)
5.0 - 5.5
(6.1 - 6.6)
6.5 - 7.1
(7.5 - 7.9)
∆ Consumption %
-19
-19
-12
CO2 g/km
129 - 143
(159 - 169)
129 - 143
(159 - 169)
152 - 166
(173 - 180)
∆ CO2 g/km %
-19
-19
-12
0-100 km/h
8.3
(8.5)
7.6
(8.0)
7.3
(7.9)
Vmax km/h
210
(205)
222
(210)
222
(215)

() Figures for the previous model

Mercedes-Benz is also offering a plug-in hybrid for the first time in this market segment: The GLC 350 e 4MATIC boasts minimal fuel consumption and emissions while offering performance on a par with that of a sports car. It is also the first plug-in hybrid in this market segment with permanent all-wheel drive, which also performs convincingly off-road. This version supersedes the previous GLK 350 4MATIC model with a conventional petrol engine and similar performance data. A comparison of fuel consumption, emissions and performance reveals the superiority of the plug-in hybrid concept particularly vividly:
GLK 350 4MATIC
GLC 350 e
4MATIC
∆ %
Output, kW/hp
225/306
155+85
211+116*
+4.6
Torque, Nm
370
560*
+ 51.4
Fuel consumption (l/100 km)
8.1 - 8.6
2.6
- 70
CO2 g/km
189 - 199
60
- 70
0-100 km/h
6.5
5.9
- 9.2

*System output

In addition, the GLC 350 e 4MATIC can cover up to 34 km in zero-emission all-electric mode, with a top electric speed of 140 km/h. And thanks to optimised integration of the plug-in technology it furthermore offers outstanding cargo space for a plug-in hybrid, at 350/1445 litres.

Just like its plug-in big brother in the S-Class, the GLC 350 e 4MATIC offers all the characteristic comfort and efficiency systems. The most important facilities at a glance:

Silent start: the vehicle starts virtually silently and runs in electric mode. At this point the combustion engine is generally kept switched off.

Boosting: The electric motor kicks in to boost the output of the combustion engine by up to 85 kW, turning the GLC 350 e 4MATIC into a sports car. Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes only 5.9 seconds.

Energy recuperation: during braking and coasting, energy is recovered and stored in the battery. This energy can then be used at a later stage for electric driving or the boost function.

Haptic accelerator pedal: Supports fuel-efficient driving. A resistance point indicates the maximum available electric output. A double impulse signals that the driver should remove their foot from the accelerator pedal in order to switch off the combustion engine and decouple it from the drive train.

Intelligent HYBRID: Intelligent operating strategy for hybrid vehicles, anticipates the course of the road and the traffic situation for maximum efficiency. This includes radar-based recuperation, an anticipatory shifting and operating strategy, a route-based operating strategy and the ECO Assist.

Pre-entry climate control: The desired interior climate can be set before starting your journey – cooling in the summer, heating in the winter. This function can be activated via a pre-set departure time or via smartphone using the Mercedes-Benz connect me app.

Retrieval of vehicle status: It is additionally possible to control the charging process or to check the charge status and the current electric range via the Mercedes-Benz connect me app

The GLC 350 e 4MATIC offers four basic operating modes which are available in the DYNAMIC SELECT driving programs ECO and COMFORT:

Hybrid: All hybrid functions, such as electric mode, boost and recuperation are available and are deployed for optimum fuel efficiency.

E-mode: used for all-electric driving – for example in inner-city areas or because the battery holds sufficient charge for the remainder of the journey.

E-Save: the charge status of the battery is maintained – for example to allow all-electric driving in an environmental zone at a later stage in the journey.

Charge: Serves to charge the battery via the combustion engine while on the move, to enable all-electric driving in an environmental zone at a later stage in the journey, for example.

Intelligent lightweight design for slimline results

Another key factor behind the vehicle's economic efficiency is the weight-shedding programme that the GLC has undergone. Despite markedly increased exterior dimensions, a longer wheelbase and a broader scope of equipment, the vehicle's weight has dropped by 80 kilograms. The main contributory factor here is the totally new hybrid material body, which introduces innovative lightweight design into volume production. As a result of the intelligent mix of materials spanning aluminium, high- to ultra-high-strength steels and robust plastic, the foundation of the GLC is 50 kilograms lighter than its substantially smaller predecessor - while at the same time rigidity has been increased for excellent handling, noise and vibration comfort has been optimised and crash safety has been further enhanced.

The following aluminium components are used:

Front wing, bonnet and roof panelling

Front: Front end (extruded aluminium section), crash boxes, frames for fitting headlamps, cooling system and bonnet closing system

Shock absorber strut consoles (die-cast aluminium) to house the front struts

Rear area with shock absorber strut consoles, cross-members and longitudinal members (die-cast aluminium)

Door hinges

4x4 integral support for front axle and steering, rear axle carrier

Suspension: Four-link front suspension with spring link, strut rod, upper wishbone and steering knuckle (forged aluminium), five-link rear axle and wheel carrier (forged aluminium). This lowers the weight of the rear axle by 5 kilograms, while also improving its stability.

Weight-shedding measures also apply to the air suspension elements of the AIR BODY CONTROL system, which consist of glass-fibre-reinforced plastic. The aluminium and plastic components of the chassis and suspension not only reduce the weight but also enhance ride comfort as a result of the attendant reduction in unsprung masses.

Other weight advantages result from the 4MATIC all-wheel-drive powertrain with the nine-stage automatic 9G-TRONIC featuring a magnesium housing. Weight savings of around 12 kilograms are attained here. Highly robust body components made of plastic are also used. The front major assemblies compartment partition is one such component.

Streamlined transition

The design transition has also bestowed superlative aerodynamics on the new GLC, which sets a clear benchmark in this SUV class with a Cd value of 0.31 (GLK 0.34) and total aerodynamic drag of 0.794 (GLK 0.87). Apart from the vehicle's substantially more aerodynamically efficient basic shape, this exceptional aerodynamic performance also results from a host of solutions relating to points of detail:
Cooling air controlled according to installed engine variant, with ring-type shutter

Improved sealing of the radiator section and flow properties to make efficient use of the available cooling air

Streamlined design of the front and rear aprons

Sealed headlamp surrounds

Three-dimensional front wheel spoilers with patented slotted wheel arch linings for optimised air flow around the wheels

Aeroacoustic and aerodynamic design of the A-pillar

Extended roof spoiler with optimised flow properties and joint seals

Aerodynamically optimised underbody with extensive engine compartment and underbody panelling

Aerodynamically optimised wheels and tyres

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