Infiniti QX80 VS Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
- Improved looks
- High level of comfort
- Off-road ability
- No Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Understeer, bodyroll
- Good comfort
- Improved interior
- New engines
- Changes a little sedate
- Not overly involving to drive
- Some drivetrain gremlins on test
The world of upper large luxury SUVs, like Infiniti’s latest-generation QX80, occupies that rarefied air, way up high in the car market, that I’ll never breathe – and that’s okay with me.
You see, as much as I admire these plush vehicles, even if I did have the cash and the inclination to buy one, I’d be so worried about incidental damage to the exterior (shopping trolleys or other drivers’ touch-parking) or children-induced damage to the interior (car sickness, spilled food or drink, blood from sibling punch-ups in the second row) that I’d never be able to fully relax while driving the thing. (Newsflash: I’ve heard from Infiniti that the QX80’s upholstery has a soil-resistant coating.)
These pricey wagons certainly do have their fans though and now, with extensive exterior changes and some interior ones, does the QX80, based on the Y62 Nissan Patrol, actually offer anything to set it apart from other large premium SUVs? Read on.
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
Believe it or not, the Mercedes-Benz GLC is the brand’s best-selling model. It was in 2018, and it will be again in 2019.
That’s not just for Australia - it’s a global trend, with mid-sized SUVs hitting the sweet spot for buyers of all shapes and sizes in different markets all over the planet.
It’s important, then, that the facelifted GLC range brings something more to the table than its predecessor, which went on sale back in 2015. And it does - by way of additional tech and features, and revised powertrains. It competes with the Audi Q5, the BMW X3, the Volvo XC60, and the Range Rover Velar among others.
Yes, you can still get it in the form of an SUV or a Coupe - the latter of which appeals to one in six buyers enough to buy one. Why? I’ll never know. The Coupe model goes toe to toe with the BMW X4.
Let’s take a closer look at the 2019 Mercedes-Benz GLC range in a bit more detail. We got to drive it in Germany before it arrives in Australia late in 2019.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
The petrol-only QX80, really a Y62 Patrol with shedloads of bling, is a curious beast; a big, bold status-boosting premium SUV, which is much better suited to the US and Middle East markets than ours. However, it has a real premium feel, is very smooth to drive and the exterior and interior changes have improved what has so far been a divisive model for a brand with a small but growing fanbase here. Infiniti sold 83 of the previous QX80 in 2017 and is hoping to move 100 of these new ones in 2018; they have their work cut out for them, but if brand confidence is worth a few sales, who knows, they might even top the ton.
Is the QX80 worth its hefty price-tag, or is it simply too much cash for something that doesn’t even have mainstream connectivity functions?
The facelifted Mercedes-Benz GLC will undoubtedly help keep it at the top of the pack when it comes to sales.
It remains a competitive and competent luxury SUV, and we’re excited to see how the company approaches the model range when it launches in Australia later in 2019 as a 2020 model.
Would you take a GLC over a BMW X3 or Audi Q5? Let us know in the comments.
The bulk of the facelifted QX80’s design changes have been to the exterior and include, most noticeably, new LED headlights with a redesigned, sleeker but more aggressive front end than its predecessor’s softer, more rounded curves.
The new QX80’s bonnet is 20mm higher than before and has been extended 90mm; the side steps have been stretched 20mm wider, and the power tailgate has been re-designed to include sharper, thinner, rear LED taillights and the bumper is visually wider.
The whole body has a higher visual centre of gravity, with this latest raft of design shifts giving the SUV a taller, broader, wider and more angular overall appearance.
The interior includes a bigger, chunkier redesigned centre and rear console and those aforementioned premium touches, such as leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, updated upholstery-stitching, semi-aniline quilted leather patterning on door panels and seats, as well as its stainless-steel sill plates, all add to the premium feel.
The QX80 looks better than it did but, as the previous one was pretty hard on the eyes, the 2018 version may still polarise opinion.
The redesign of the Mercedes-Benz GLC SUV and Coupe models is modest - this isn’t an exaggerated mid-life cycle change, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the GLC has forged a reputation both on its substance, and its style.
It still looks pretty good to me… well, the SUV does. The Coupe-SUV is a concept I’ve never really grasped, but I can’t deny the popularity of the more expensive, less practical, less attractive versions of the GLC.
Mercedes says the regular SUV models adopt a “sportier” appearance as part of the update, with new LED daytime running lights to frame the new standard full-LED headlights, and there’s a revised grille and bumper, depending on the model. Versions with the AMG trim line will have the “diamond” grille which now has more of an ‘A’ shape rather than a ‘V’ design.
The standard versions get new grille designs and new bumpers too, both front and rear. At the back there are also redesigned LED tail-lights and additional chrome, which you’ll find a common theme on the outside of the revised model.
The GLC Coupe models see similar design changes - a redesigned front bumper (with the diamond look as standard), redesigned headlights and tail-lights and a subtler rear bumper with a new diffuser and exhaust garnish.
The QX80 is a big unit – 5340mm long (with a 3075mm wheelbase), 2265mm wide and 1945mm high – and, when you’re seated inside it, it feels like Infiniti designers and engineers must have worked hard to maximise the space afforded them for driver and passengers without seeming to have sacrificed any style or comfort.
And that big open space inside the cabin is easy to get comfortable in. There are soft-touch surfaces everywhere – door panels, arm rests, centre-console edging – and the seats are unsurprisingly soft and supportive but tend towards slippery when there are quick changes in speed or direction, or when tackling steep downhills off-road. (It was fun to watch front-seat passengers slip-slide around inside during the 4WD loop)
If you’re up-front you’re well catered for; big glovebox; overhead sunglasses storage; the centre console now has a roomy smartphone storage area; the twin cupholders have been upsized to cop two 1.3-litre cups with handles (up from one 1.3-litre cup and a 950ml container); the USB port has been moved to the other side of the centre console so it’s easier to get to; the storage area under the front passenger arm-rest is now a 5.4-litre compartment, able to hold up to three upright 1.0-litre bottles or tablet devices.
There are nine cupholders and two bottle-holders in total in the QX80.
There’s a sunroof if you get the urge for natural light from above.
Second-row passengers now get 8.0-inch entertainment screens (up from 7.0-inch) and two additional USB ports.
The tip-up second row seats are easy enough to operate and the third row is power 60/40 split-fold-to-flat and reclining.
There is a 12V outlet in the cargo area.
The revised cabin of the GLC doesn’t set any new standards, but the updates will help it compete a little better with the plusher, newer BMW X3.
New additions to the GLC interior include MBUX and multimedia system, consisting of two high-resolution digital screens: the first being a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, and the second a tablet on top of the middle of the dash that manages major controls and media.
The 10.25-inch touchscreen multimedia system (expected to be standard in Australia) has the "Hey Mercedes" voice control system. The brand has made a big deal about this system, which also has an Artificial Intelligence element to it, meaning it’ll learn your habits, and aim to please you more and more over time.
It’d want to get better the longer you spend with it, because it takes a bit of learning, as there’s a lot of complexity to the way the menus and sub-menus are laid out. Sure, you’re probably supposed to use voice control a lot, but there is some lag time to contend with, not to mention inconsistency.
The screen and controls can also be managed by a central touchpad between the front seats, the screen itself, or the tiny little touchpad on the steering wheel. And yes, it looks a bit classier now - and the displays are crisp - but it feels a bit like new paint applied to an old door.
If you dig practicality as much me (high five!) there are big cup holders up front and in the back, bottle holders in all four doors, and good storage for loose items. You can expect rear vents.
I’m 182cm, or six-feet tall, and in the SUV model I was able to slot behind the driver’s seat with it set in my own position, and I had good headroom, legroom and toeroom. It’s an airy and broad feeling back seat, but there is a large transmission tunnel to contend with, and the door sills themselves are quite intrusive, with a narrow section at the base of the door meaning people with big feet like me (size 12) might feel a bit clumsy getting in and out.
Because of the raked roof line of the Coupe, it is better suited to smaller adults or children, because you need to watch your head getting in and out, and headroom is limited if you’re taller and sitting up straight.
Boot space is cut down for the Coupe at 500 litres, where the regular version has 550L, and the latter is easily enough for a family of four’s luggage for a weekend away.
Price and features
Pricing has not changed: there is one model and it still costs $110,900 before on-roads and that price does not include paint other than the standard Black Obsidian; metallic paint is $1500 extra. Changes over and above the previous model’s standard features list include 22-inch 18-spoke forged alloy wheels (up from 20-inch), Infiniti’s InTouch 8.0-inch colour touchscreen (up from 7.0-inch), new Espresso Burl coloured trim, new chrome finishes all-round, updated upholstery-stitching everywhere, quilted leather patterning on seats, new headlights, LED foglights and more. There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Mercedes-Benz Australia hasn’t yet announced full pricing and spec details for the updated GLC range, and we won’t know what is included, what is optional and what we miss out on until later this year.
But we can offer up some estimates of where the models might sit when they arrive, based on the existing models, and how they’ll be equipped when they get here, too.
If Australia gets the line-up that CarsGuide believes is likely, the entry-level model will be the GLC 200, listing at about $65,000 for the SUV model. All prices here are estimates only - educated guesses, you might say.
The next model up could be the GLC 300, in both SUV ($72,000) and Coupe ($77,000) guises.
And the diesel version - the GLC 300d - is expected to be offered in the SUV ($79,000) and Coupe ($85,000)
Standard gear on all models will include LED headlights with LED daytime running lights, 19-inch wheels, leather steering wheel, leather seat trim (300 and 300d - 200 likely to get fake leather), electric front seat adjustment, the new MBUX screens (12.3-inch instrument cluster, 10.1-inch media), sat nav, cruise control, digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and more.
It is expected that the new model will be available with optional adaptive dampers at about $1500 or the choice of air suspension ($2500).
Engine & trans
The previous generation’s 5.6-litre V8 petrol engine (298kW@5800rpm and 560Nm@4000rpm) remains, as does the seven-speed automatic transmission with adaptive shift control. It also has Infiniti’s all-mode 4WD system, which offers Auto, 4WD High and 4WD Low settings and it has terrain appropriate modes (sand, snow, rocks) able to be dialled in.
The GLC range includes a range of petrol and diesel engines, but for Australia, there are a few models that are likely to be offered.
The first is the GLC 200, which has a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol-turbo engine with 145kW of power and 280Nm of torque. The figures are close to the existing GLC200 RWD base model (135kW/300Nm), but there's an electric boost system for the new engine.
The GLC 200 (and GLC 300 above it) feature the brand’s new 48-volt mild-hybrid system, which gives it the ability to cut the engine when coasting, while also adding up to 150Nm of extra torque at times.
The same 2.0-litre petrol engine has a beefier tune in the GLC 300 model, which pushes out a strong 190kW of power and 370Nm of torque.
And the diesel version we’re likely to get is the 300d, which has 180kW of power and 500Nm of torque. Diesel sales are down dramatically since 2015 - back then diesel accounted for 50 per cent of sales in Australia, but now that figure is closer to 20 per cent. That leads us to believe the range will be rationalised from two oil-burners in the current line-up (250d and 350d) to one.
To begin with, all models sold in Australia will be offered with 4Matic all-wheel drive and a nine-speed automatic transmission. The current range includes an entry-level rear-wheel drive (GLC 200), but no replacement version has been announced as yet.
Want more performance? There’s the range-topping AMG 63 model, while an AMG 43 replacement is also expected, though not yet revealed.
The QX80 is claimed to use 14.8L/100km. We reckon that fuel-consumption figure is very optimistic and if QX80 owners are partial to towing boats – as Infiniti reckons they are – or if they tackle some 4WDing, then that figure is going to climb much higher quite swiftly.
Claimed fuel consumption is set to be between 7.1 and 7.4 litres per 100 kilometres for the petrol models, and that’s measured at the new WLTP standard. We didn’t get a chance to monitor fuel use on the launch drive.
The diesel version we’ll likely get has claimed fuel use of 5.8L/100km.
The fuel use figures are the same across SUV and Coupe body styles.
In the world of luxury SUVs big is king and this thing is definitely on the chunky side of big, but it doesn’t often feel too cumbersome for its own good, or too bulky to steer in and out of Melbourne’s bustling morning traffic with precision.
During this event, we did a fair chunk of driving – highway, country roads, gravel roads and a decent bit of 4WDing – and, surprise, surprise, it did pretty well, especially when things of this ilk usually exhibit the ride and handling of an old poorly-sprung couch on wheels.
It did, however, feel top-heavy at times and revealed substantial body-roll when pushed around corners at speed or even during some sections of slow, bouncy off-roading, so I’d be reluctant to experience what it would be like without hydraulic body motion control. However, we were willing to forgive it any rocking-and-rolling when that healthy V8 growl kicked in as we gave it the boot.
The 22-inch tyre-and-wheel combination is not the way I’d go if I was going to use the QX80 for any off-road forays but, having said that, we did fine on them, at road tyre pressures, over a decent off-road loop.
It has 246mm of ground clearance and 24.2 (approach), 24.5 (departure) and 23.6 (ramp-over) angles.
The QX80 has coil springs all-round and it was only ever caught out when it thumped through a couple of surprise potholes along a dirt road.
This Infiniti model has a claimed tare mass of 2783kg, but you wouldn’t have known it was that many kegs because it powered up steep and slippery bush tracks, through deep muddy ruts, over greasy rocks and through a few knee-deep mud holes with ease. It was as easy as pulling up, switching your terrain modes and dialling in your setting: 4WD High, 4WD Low or Auto. It has a locking rear diff and very capable hill descent control, which we tested on a few rather steep sections of track.
It’s nice to see vehicle manufacturers unafraid to put their off-roaders, even their pricey luxury ones, through a decent off-road loop at launch because it shows they have confidence in its capabilities.
We only got the chance to spent time on the road in the new GLC 300 model, which is likely to replace the popular GLC 250 in Australia.
The road loop we sampled the car on consisted mainly of flowing freeway/autobahn sections, a little bit of urban driving, and a short stint in some corners that included surfaces that put most Australian race tracks to shame. They were that smooth.
And every GLC 300 we drove had the air suspension system fitted, so we can’t really say how it will handle Aussie-standard bumps and lumps. In this specification, the car was really quite pleasant - not too floaty, but soft enough to live up to the Comfort mode designation chosen. In Sport things were a little firmer, but still with a touch of body roll noticeable in corners. If you want a corner carving horsepower hero, it’s worth considering the GLC 63 AMG model... provided the budget allows.
The steering in the GLC 300 was light and predictable, if lacking much in the way of enjoyment - but for a family SUV that deals more with car parks and parallel manoeuvres, it will likely be a competent and confident option.
The engine itself was quiet and refined for the most part, building pace with ease and stepping away from a halt with enough eagerness to please the vast majority of customers.
While the addition of the new 48-volt system is clearly advantageous to initial pull-away power, it wasn’t necessarily seamless. On a few occasions we noticed some confusion from the powertrain, including hesitance from coasting to on-throttle. We even noted some shunting from the nine-speed auto transmission, which was quite un-Mercedes-like.
For those who want an off road review, we got a chance to put the 300d model through its paces under the instruction of advisors at the ADAC off-road park outside Frankfurt. The purpose-built course incorporated 36-degree side-angle driving, a deep rutted slalom course with plenty of articulation, a muddy creek crossing, and a log bridge crossing (where the optional 360-degree camera with active steering guidance lines was the difference between lining it up right or ending up on the roof 2.5 metres below).
The GLC 300d was surprisingly adept at each instance. Even up a 60-degree climb the AWD system was measured and managed the acceleration input I gave it very well.
The cool thing about the versions we drove off-road was the Off Road Package, which included more advanced telemetry, optional air suspension, an optional off road body kit to improve the off road specs of the GLC, and a pair of off-road modes (one for general unsealed driving, the other for more serious stuff with a speed limit of 45km/h, re-calibrated acceleration and gearing, and even headlights that offer a wider, shorter spread for low-speed driving in dark surrounds).
If you’re wondering about the off-road specs, the ground clearance (mm) is up to 245mm with the air suspension raised, while the approach angle is rated at 30.8 degrees and the departure angle at 24.9deg.
The QX80 does not have an ANCAP safety rating. Safety tech as standard includes blind spot warning, intelligent parking system, forward emergency braking, lane departure prevention (incorporating lane departure warning), distance control assist and predictive forward collision warning, Infiniti/Patrol intelligent rear view mirror (which can display video from a camera mounted in the upper rear windshield) and more. It has two ISOFIX points in the second-row seats.
The GLC range was awarded the highest possible five-star ANCAP crash test rating in 2015. Since then the standards have moved on, and it won’t be retested. However, that is unlikely to be a large deterrent because the range comes loaded with safety equipment and technology.
There’s autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, lane departure warning, active lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
Every GLC comes with nine airbags fitted (dual front, front side, rear side, curtain and driver’s knee) and of course there are dual ISOFIX child seat anchor points and three top-tether points, too.
Mercedes-Benz models are sold with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty plan, which includes the same duration of roadside assist. No-one is doing much better than that in the luxury segment… apart from Tesla, which offers an eight-year/160,000km warranty.
Service intervals are every 12 months or 25,000km, whichever occurs first - very generous - and the brand offers pre-pay or pay-as-you-go servicing across its model range, and pricing varies between the two. Upfront cover for three years is $2150, while PAYG is $2700. If you want to prepay for four years or five, you can - the costs are $2950 / $4650 respectively.
These costs cover the regular scheduled servicing (including brake fluid, air, cabin and fuel filters, spark plugs and coolant) but consumables like brake pads and discs and wiper blades will incur additional fees.