Adjustable side bolsters for front seats that literally hug you. I cannot express enough gratitude for this.
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Replaced 2009 Honda City iVTec at 1,75,000 KMs (bought used at 49,000 KMs in 2013) with a new GLC 220D 4MATIC. Booked and canceled Isuzu VCross, Skoda Superb, Jeep Compass, MG Gloster during the process. Rejected a used BMW 320d GT. Finally, took the plunge and bought a brand new Mercedes. Ran it hard for 23,300 KMs in the first year of ownership. Two mega road trips and a couple smaller road trips took us through 10 states and 3 UTs burning a total of 1960 Ltr of diesel. Plenty off-roading, one overnight camping and so much fun. I feel unleashed!
Car Being Replaced:
2009 manufactured Honda City iVTec SMT that I purchased in 2013 at 49,000 KMs. We ran it pretty hard clocking over 1,75,000 KMs across the country. It took us to 18 states, several UTs and an extensive road trip through Bhutan. This Honda exhibited exceptional reliability as we never got stuck anywhere even though we abused this car a fair amount. We didn’t really have to pay for anything other than just regular servicing and accident related repairs. Nothing broke down apart from the lockset (the keys and locks) at 175,500 KMs.
Masai Plateau near Injole MH
Somewhere in the Sahyadri mountains
Indian states that we traveled to with our Honda City.
Though the car was definitely taking us places, it certainly couldn’t take us everywhere. I never cared about the lack of ground clearance, bad roads, no roads and took our car wherever we were wanted to go. But there was always this urge to have the ability to go the extra mile, the mild off-roading experience and J&K/Ladakh/North East. I know people have been doing Ladakh in their low slung sedans for almost forever now but when I go there, I want the ability to go “everywhere” which is certainly not possible in a petrol sedan. No off-roading capability, no torque! There was also need for more space. Additionaly, as the car aged, it basically started feeling like a Bolero pickup with a really harsh ride, almost nil noise insulation. A new car was needed and as time passed the need was quickly transforming into urgency!
Isuzu D-Max V-Cross in 2016:
I was looking for a replacement for as early as 2016. I remember I was in Kodaikanal, TN on a road-trip when V-Cross was launched. And I immediately booked it. But reality settled in a week or so when I realized that it was way too long and I wouldn’t be able to maneuver it in our cities or the super narrow roads in the hill stations. Canceled the booking.
After this, the car replacement was put on a backburner as I went through life ferrying the Honda City wherever we could. As time passed, I was also becoming a lot clearer on what I really needed from a car and my list of requirements emerged to be:
- Must be BLACK
- Must have proper safety kit
- Must be reliable as I’ll be out in the wild and certainly don’t want to freeze to death
- Must have 4×4 or at least AWD
- Must be a small car (a full length 5m car is no no)
- Must have 5 seats (I absolutely don’t want a 7 seater, even a 4 seater would do). I’ll make this exception only for Endeavour which we cannot get anyway
- Ideally a diesel engine for higher torque
- Superb ground clearance
- Real, physical buttons for basic things like volume control, AC etc. (Not a fan of those touch screens)
- Comfortable (don’t want tractors or Gurkhas in the name of go anywhere capability). I drive a lot and I don’t want to reach a state where I basically start hating driving itself.
- Potential to support overlanding if needed (means all seats should be foldable and should have a decent luggage space)
- Ventilated seats will be good given our weather
This started sounding more and more like I needed a Honda Creta AWD. The above requirements basically ruled out anything that was within budget. Mahindra Thar, Scorpio N, XUV 700, Force Gurkha etc. I kept waiting for the perfect car launch and life went on.
Then Covid happened and I thanked my stars and obsession for preventing me from getting a new car as will just sit idle and corrode away. I kept looking for the perfect car though. Once the Covid 19 story was over and the world started opening again, the pressure for replacing the car was just a little too much and we actively started looking. We were no longer in the mood for waiting.
Skoda Superb ~ Apr, 2022:
I researched and searched for a perfect car for nearly 6 years. BUT Skoda is like this super hot chic that makes you go totally blind and turns you into a total retard. I wanted to go for Octavia but that didn’t have a sunroof and wife really wanted a car with sunroof. So, took a test drive and just booked Skoda Superb. This was so freaking anti-climatic! How does one end up booking a super unreliable low slung Skoda sedan with DSG and no AWD when looking for a car with the above mentioned requirements Anyway, thanks for Covid 19 and Ukraine war triggered component shortage, they weren’t able to adhere to the promised timeline. And the time helped me get rid of the lust and better sense prevailed. I canceled the booking in June.
Jeep Compass ~ Jun, 2022:
The closest car to Honda Creta AWD was Jeep Compass Trailhawk. We took a test drive and the gearbox tuning was such a turn off. Tata Safari has the same engine and a paddle to metal in that yields a rocket ship. In Compass, it didn’t do nothing. But we didn’t have an option. We went ahead and booked the compass but I insisted for Trailhawk edition. I wanted to go for the best. They had the regular compass available off the shelf but I didn’t want that. Even Jeep failed to stick to the promised deadline and we also started realizing that we were compromising a lot. Not just the engine, the luggage compartment is also super small and cannot accommodate bags for the kind of traveling we do. We’d be gone for months at a time. Finally, canceled the booking in July, 2022.
MG Gloster ~ Jul, 2022:
While the auto industry was falling apart in terms of delivery timelines, we were running out of options. Nobody was willing to sell us a car and on top of that I wanted a black car which nobody keeps in stock anyway. We visited the MG showroom and had a look at the Gloster. My goodness! What a car! I have no idea how Toyota manages to sell a comparatively underpowered car with a significantly worse interiors and plushness when we have a Gloster in the market at almost the same/lower price!
Anyway, decided to compromise on the length and 7 seats and booked the car. The quoted waiting period was 48 weeks. I was not ok with it but such was the car market. Paid the booking amount on the spot with a promise that they’ll come over with a test drive vehicle later in the week. Yes, such was the environment. People didn’t even test drive vehicles!
While the booking for the Gloster was on, the thought of it being too big to maneuver in places like Ooty, Darjeeling were constantly haunting me. Also, the test drive vehicle never showed up. The booking was eventually canceled in Sep, 2022.
In the meantime, we were still shopping around to see if we can get some other car. I got so desperate that I even considered getting Fortuner for a brief amount of time. We visited the Toyota showroom here and luckily the waiting period was well over 11 months and even that was not guaranteed.
BMW 320d GT ~ Sep, 2022:
I was getting ever desperate to get a new car. But since there was no car ready to be grabbed. Started exploring used car market and luxury car market at the same time. Visited several places in the city and found a BMW 320d GT Luxury Line (2017 / 60,000 KMs) at a decent price of ~28 Lakhs. Even though the car is sold as a touring machine, it’s not at all suitable for touring. The spare tyre takes up all the space and there’s none left for your luggage. And one simply cannot tour India without a spare tyre.
Anyway, I decided to take the plunge and thought of getting it as a stopgap car till we can get our hands on a proper tourer. But I didn’t have a good experience at the BMW service center when I took the car over there for inspection. The same is documented in this thread (Awful experience @ BMW service center, Hyderabad). Decided to strike BMW off not only in the used market but also from the new car market. Ditched the car even though I had to pay a decent amount for the 360 degree inspection but it’s probably a good idea not go ahead with a deal if your gut feels otherwise.
Enters Honda Creta AWD or Mercedes GLC 220D 4MATIC ~ Sep, 2022:
Now that I have offended all the Mercedes fanboys out here, let’s get back to real talk. Even though I was aware of Mercedes GLC and most of its features, I always considered Mercedes to be this super delicate, fragile machine which one must drive only on finely paved private roads in order to not hurt it. At least, that’s the image Mercedes seems to have among the masses. Even the thought of taking a Mercedes off-roading was a bit scary!
Anyway, GLC ticked every single item in the list except for ventilated seats. It’s such a misfortune that in this country, one must compromise on some or the other thing while purchasing a new car no matter how much money you spend. I was aware of the GLC facelift but I wanted to avoid it because it replaced all physical buttons with that touchscreen. I admit it looks fabulous but I am not a fan of controlling stuff that way. I also anticipated a price increase (Spy Pics: Next-Gen Mercedes-Benz GLC) which helped me make the decision and seal the price.
We booked our car with Mahavir Motors, Hyderabad. The waiting period was supposed to be a month but we got our car delivered in flat 19 days. The entire process was managed really well by the staff there. Special thanks to Mr. PV Prasad for taking care of so many things and making the whole process look like a cakewalk for us!
D-Day! It was a good day. It accidentally turned out to be an auspicious day as well. Mahavir Motors delivered 18 Mercedes that day!
The cake was freaking delicious.
The official declaration.
Chocolates were amazing. We carried a huge chocolate bouquet for the team and they reciprocated appropriately.
Not sure how to use this though. I think it will be considered show off.
We pretended to be climate activists for a total of 5 seconds before driving off in the newly acquired diesel guzzler!
One Year Report:
The car has completed one year at the end of Sep, 2023. Here are the one year stats.
- Driven: 23,300 KMs
- Diesel : 1,960 Ltr (~11.89 KMPL)
- States: 10
- UTs: 3
- Hyderabad Outer Ring Road
- Ahmedabad-Vadodra Expressway
- Agra-Lucknow Expressway
- Bundelkhand Expressway
- Yamuna Expressway
- Eastern Peripheral Expressway
- Western Peripheral Expressway
- Trans Haryana Expressway
Indian territory visited with the GLC in the last year.
- Really comfortable for long drives. I hardly feel anything after driving 600 KMs during the day provided roads are not too bad. I can easily do my night shift (till midnight) after driving throughout the day and then repeat the same next day.
- BRAKES! It almost feels like the brakes can read your mind taking you slightly away from Physics. It will stop when and where you want it to stop.
- Adjustable side bolsters for front seats that literally hug you. I cannot express enough gratitude for this. Matters even more in a tall SUV.
- Ground clearance! Bottomed out in Ladakh only in some really difficult under construction patches enroute Dungti-Fukche. There was literally no road and we had to eventually return and visit Hanle via the regular route.
- MBUX. It is simply amazing. Everything feels really intuitive and you get used to it super quickly.
- Real, physical buttons for important controls. God! I simply hate the fact that they got rid of those physical buttons with amazing tactile feedback in the facelift.
- 10,000 KMs+ AdBlue Range. They plonked a 27.5 Ltr AdBlue tank in there. After the most recent refill, I have done 8,050 KMs and tank still has 35% AdBlue left. This is not that important if you are doing mostly city runs but for me it matters a lot. My current road trip lasted 8,007 KMs and I could have been gone for longer and I wouldn’t want to worry about refills from a shady roadside store.
- Great fuel efficiency. One year average fuel efficiency stood at 11.89 KMPL (tank-full-to-tank-full method and not from MIDI) which is great for an 8 second car driven pretty hard and was carrying no less than 300-400 KGs of luggage for most of the distance. Very easy to extract fuel efficient of 16+ KMPL on highways with cruise control in economy mode. Even if you drive is super hard, it doesn’t drop below ~10 KMPL for a fairly long drive.
- Not Fragile. This was our biggest fear before we were about to set the pile of cash on fire. But our experience has been nothing short of mind boggling. This car is like a Bolero Pickup when it comes to tackling the terrain but at the same time a cozy cocoon (like a sedan) for the people sitting inside.
- Great Music. Does not cause any kind of headache or strain when you blast them Burmesters during all day driving. NOW, it’s a totally different thing that I mostly use them to listen to Haryanvi/Punjabi pop which gives plenty headache to my wife.
- Great Interiors. After a year of rough use, interiors are looking like they are plenty abuse friendly and not going to melt away anytime soon.
- Pirelli Tyres. We started watching F1 sometime in 2021 and my wife was always asking me to get Pirelli tyres for our Honda City. I could not convince her that our Michelins were much better than the Pirellis. She wouldn’t listen. Then we took the delivery and she found out that GLC came with Pirellis preinstalled. You won’t believe me but she was more happy about the Pirellis than the God damned Mercedes. Well, there goes my stint at understanding women! On a serious note, though the tyres are Highway Terrain, they have performed well and I haven’t suffered any sidewall cuts to date. Fingers Crossed! Suffered a puncture in Dungti, Ladakh on the road that I shouldn’t have taken.
- Thoughtfully designed storage spaces. The storage space in the doors is amazing. We store so much stuff in there ranging from mini trash cans to multiple waters bottles and everything else in between. Medium sized umbrellas fit perfectly in the rear doors.
- Boat like ride quality at slow speeds (<30 KMPH). It’s much worse than what you can imagine if the road is rough and has undulations. A tiny boat in the high seas will probably be comparatively stable.
- Missing ventilated seats. The AC is good but still we are not living in the 1990s anymore! Air Conditioning is fairly mainstream now. I think they should have had it all this while.
- No cornering headlamps. You almost never need them while driving in plains but the moment you take your first hairpin bend in the dark in the Himalayas, you immediately feel the need for cornering lamps.
- Gets too much attention. Luckily, nobody cares about a GLC in Hyderabad but in the rural areas (especially Northern India), a Mercedes simply gets too much attention and I kind of don’t like that. People start taking pictures/videos even when you are just driving by. Feels a little unsafe.
- You are almost always short changed. People just assume that you money on tap. Our homestay owner in Hanle, Ladakh straightaway refused to give me a better price quoting “You are driving a Mercedes!”.
- Vodafone powered connected car tech. Yes, Mercedes has Vodafone as their partner for connected car thing which means it will work only on civilized areas. You take one step off the grid and it’s gone. I wish they partner with Jio/Airtel in future.
- Curvy Tailgate/Slanting rear end. This is a major negative at least from our perspective. A squarish rear end or boxy shape (like in Defender or Scorpio N) will mean so much more vertical storage for our camping gear. But I guess that will spoil the entire look of the car and render it “pretty” ugly!
- Gets easily unsettled at high speeds when fully loaded. Some pipe culverts or bridge joints can unsettle this car when you are doing 120 KMPH on the highways if you have it fully loaded. I have to drive extra careful because we mostly have 300-400 KGs of luggage for camping etc. If you have ever drive on Eastern Peripheral Expressway at the speed limit, you’ll probably understand what I am referring to here.
- Mercedes Navigation. I apologize to all the feminists in advance but Mercedes navigation in India is as good as my wife’s navigation capabilities. Enough said!
- Worst Tyre Configuration Possible. GLC wears 235/55 R19 Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season tyres. In Indian market, there are only two other options CEAT SportDrive SUV and Continental ContiSportContact 5. Maybe I am not able search properly but there are no All Terrain tyres available for this configuration in the Indian market. It’s not a problem for majority of the GLC owners but it’s something to keep in mind.
Extra Protection/Covers Bought:
All Inclusive Insurance:
Since I plan to keep this vehicle for at least 4-5 years unless circumstances change, I went all in on the coverage. Insurance is Mercedes Star Platinum through ICICI which covers everything that’s there to be covered including Return To Invoice. It does cost a lot more than regular insurance but there’s no way I can replace this vehicle in case of total loss with my own money. That will be a very costly affair. It’s like buying way out of money put options to NIFTY. They are a waste of money 99% of the time but stakes are pretty high here and I really want that extra bit of coverage.
3 Years Extended Warranty:
All Mercedes car come with 3 Years standard warranty with unlimited kilometers. You can top that up with another (up to) 3 Years extended warranty which has a variable pricing based on when you buy it with minimum price being if you buy it within 3 months of purchasing the vehicle. I went for the 3 Years extended warranty (Rs. 3,84,916/-) since I plan to keep the vehicle for long and if we have learned one thing from this form it’s “You Never Want To Own An Out Of Warranty German!”. But do note that the extended warranty is not provided by Mercedes but is sort of a General Insurance coverage provided via Reliance.
I could have possibly avoided going for the Mercedes dash as it’s very expensive at Rs. 55,700/- for front only 1080p Dash with parking monitoring etc. There are plenty good options in the market at fraction of that price but I wanted the camera to be hardwired and didn’t want the wiring to be touched by anyone outside the Mercedes dealership. The camera is okayish for a 1080p camera. Records at constant bitrate of 10 Mbps and loops at 1 minute till the storage is full and then basically removes the oldest videos to make room for the new one. There is no way to change the looping interval. Does a fair job of motion detection when parked. Records speed, GPS coordinates, time etc. stamped on to the video. Managed via a mobile app, you can configure the sensitivity of G sensor, motion sensor and stamping of video with Speed etc.
Mercedes service packages are not that lucrative as far as I understood them. I decided not to opt for any service package. So, this and insurance remains the running cost while everything else should be covered by warranty for the six years.
Pain Film or Ceramic Coating:
There is no film or ceramic protection that can really protect a car at places where I plan to drive this car. The shrubs, branches, thorns are going to get the best of anything and everything. Opted not to waste any money on these.
Insurance Claim Process:
Unfortunately, I had to claim insurance twice in the first year. Nothing major, only minor fender benders in the city. The process was super smooth. Vehicle gets picked up, dealer does everything that needs doing. You only need to provide the accident description and send them license etc. That’s all. In both the cases, I had to pay Rs. ~2,800/- as standard deductible. But that’s all. You don’t have to do anything including interacting with the insurance company.
Please note that GLC is a CKD car and if you managed to damage your car in a way that some part needs replacement, it’ll take a minimum of one week for your car to be returned. Parts are sourced from Pune only on order. Painting takes 3-4 days max.
In the first year of ownership, my car as spent nearly two weeks at the dealership for two insurance claims and server. I was not offered and refused a courtesy car in both cases. Not sure what the rules are around that. Also, mine is probably a cheaper Mercedes to qualify for a courtesy car.
I think this is one of the most unknown and worrisome factor for prospective buyers. I feared this one to be honest especially because you can not get your Mercedes or any other German serviced outside of the authorized service centers when they are in warranty.
The first service was carried out at 17,300 KMs. It was delayed because I was already on a long road trip and had no way of getting the car to a dealership. It was not a major service and was about just routine checks and oil/filters replacement. Set me back by Rs. 45,036/-. It’s very expensive compared to my Honda City which is somewhere from 5,000-8,000 but I guess it’s a fair price for a German.
Issues So Far:
I don’t think it’s possible to own a car without issues. I haven’t run into any major issues but here we go!
After our first major road trip and some off-roading, car developed some major rattling noises in the luggage compartment on passenger side near C pillar quarter glass. I couldn’t figure out what happened but had to live with it for a couple months as I was on the trip and couldn’t get the car checked. Sent it to the service center after returning and it was fixed at no cost. The end result was good but a rattling Mercedes in the first 6 months of ownership gave me nightmares.
Dealership Scratched The Bonnet.:
The car was returned with scratches on the bonnet when I sent it for regular service. Dealership has acknowledged it and has promised to fix them. As of now, I don’t have time to get it done I have been asked to hand the car over whenever I have time. I don’t care much about scratches on my cars as I treat them mostly like machines or slaves but if you are finicky about such stuff, this is certainly not a luxury or at least a Mercedes experience.
Seat Belt Malfunction at Umling La:
The restrain system malfunctioned as we drove closer to Umling La. We were almost 200-300 ft below Umling La in terms of altitude when this showed up. Seat belts became loose. They were still hitched but totally free. Won’t save anyone in case of accident. I am yet to write to Mercedes about it. If you have contacts higher up, do let me know. It’s clear Mercedes has not tested their cars to Umling La since it didn’t quite exist back then. The warning disappeared as we descended a couple thousand feet from Umling La.
Bonnet System Malfunction:
As we reached Umling La, I shut my car down. When I started it again the bonnet malfunction warning popped up. This means that any pedestrian protection is disabled. This too disappeared as we descended to a lower altitude.
Well, that’s all I have gathered so far on this Mercedes. If you are curious about something, feel free to ask and I’ll be happy to answer. Also, do let me know if I am doing something horribly wrong!
And Honda City has now become our beater car and we use it occasionally for “city” runs.
Plant run using the Honda City.
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