Auto Channel Exclusive: 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC 4Matic EQ Review by Andrew Frankl
A Green-vehicle review for car shoppers concerned with fuel economy, hybrid vehicles, electric vehicles and gasoline and diesel exhaust emissions
2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC 4Matic EQ Review
By Andrew Frankl
European Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
I have three regular partners at the Belvedere Tennis Club. One is a heart surgeon, one a former diplomat and one who works for a major oil company. They have one thing in common apart from playing tennis badly-they are all Mercedes owners. Consequently when I turned up in the brand new 2019 GLC 350e 4matic EQ they immediately came out of the Clubhouse to have a closer look and were seriously impressed.
They were not the only ones. The Editor of FORZA-a magazine about Ferraris- took the wheel on our way to Burlingame’s legendary Candy Store . The weather was truly awful. It was raining cats and dogs. The GLC just cruised straight through it all. Rock solid, silent and reassuring. I have forgotten just how good Mercs were. Actually I haven’t , it’s just that I have not had one for test for quite a while. In 1986- 32 years ago!- my son Nicholas and I picked up a brand new 500SL from Stuttgart to take to the new Hungaroring, the first ever Grand Prix circuit behind the Iron Curtain. It was a very special occasion especially as I’ve played a small part in getting the circuit off the ground or should I say on the ground. There were 300 thousand people over the weekend, lots of East Germans , Poles, Czechs and of course Hungarians. The 500SL was a major hit in its own right, at one point we drove Car & Driver Editor Csaba Csere and his wife Mary round the circuit. He and I still talk about it.
The other SL drive was maybe even more fun. It also took place at the Hungaroring but in post Warsaw Pact times. One day I got a call in my London office from Stuttgart asking me to fly to Budapest where the company was promoting an updated version of the 500 SL. To demonstrate how good it was they’ve asked my old mate Niki Lauda to demonstrate it. I was doing the interviewing. An old mate I hear you ask? An old mate indeed. We go back to 1972 shortly after he arrived to England. My office was just across the road from Max Mosley’s apartment in Ebury street. Niki was about to drive for Max’s new team and he needed a place in London. Can you look after him-said Max and I was happy to do so. Showed him around also fed him some wholesome Central European food . At one point I took him to the world famous 235 club on London’s Kings Road. He was meeting none other than his friend James Hunt . Don’t believe what you see in the movies!
So one way or another, Mercedes and I go back a long way. What about the latest EQ I hear you ask. Well, the company is relatively new to the hybrid game but knowing the depth and know-how of their engineers I am sure we will be seeing many more EQs and far fewer diesels. An interesting aside - Hybrids and all electric vehicles need special metals for the batteries which are not always readily available. Some of it comes from the Republic of Congo, a country not for the faint hearted. Put it this way: I would hate to rely on all my supplies from this volatile country. But as a colleague pointed out - if the price is right-people will start mining elsewhere-Australia, Chile to name but two. As for actually selling all-electric cars -not easy. Tesla is having a big go and certainly Marin county is full of them but the one lots of people are waiting for -the basic 3- has yet to arrive in its cheapest form. Not that $44,000 is that cheap. The Tesla I had for test the other day – the Model 3 AWD long range - costs almost exactly the same as the EQ - $68,000. Quick, comfortable with amazing iPhone type gizmos and in this respect it is ahead of the Mercedes. And yes, charging stations are everywhere on the way down to LA but Montana, Wyoming-forget about it.
So until they have nationwide coverage stick with the EQ. Even then, with no disrespect to Elon Musk, I would rather have a crash in the EQ. Every time.
It was fascinating to see a demo of the all-electric Mercedes EQC which is a direct Tesla rival . Personally I would be tempted to wait on that one sticking with the GLC 350e which has a “proper engine “ as well. There are several options, the one I had had a somewhat gutless 2.0 liter engine so I would certainly go for one of the more powerful ones but then I am used to driving Ferraris and Lambos. For folks not into exotic cars the 2 liter hybrid is perfectly adequate. Two minor irritants-the windscreen wipers are feeble and the radio has a mind of its own. The speakers on the other hand are amazing.
For the record in EQ mode you get 56 miles per gallon, with the engine you are down to 25.
On the Government test the EQ scored a 7 out of 10 on fuel consumption and smog rating.
So when it is all said and done do I recommend the 2019 GLC 4Matic EQ? Absolutely. I drive past the local dealer’s showroom and there are an awful lot of cars out there in the parking lot.
Pretend you are in Marrakech-start haggling!