Mercedes-Benz is set to strengthen its SUV portfolio in Thailand with the launch of the all-new GLC later this year, and plans are afoot for the luxury compact SUV to be assembled here from knocked-down parts supplied by its German parent next year.
This is the first time Mercedes-Benz has made a right-hand-drive version of its compact SUV. The GLK predecessor was made in left-hand-drive form because of engineering restrictions in the 4×4 system.
The strategy will put pressure on the Thai-finished BMW X3 and Malaysian-built Volvo XC60, as the segment has never been represented by Mercedes-Benz in Thailand.
Sources familiar with the project say the GLC will be an important model in bringing more sales to the brand, as the segment is currently growing in Thailand and around the world.
Like its rivals, Mercedes-Benz is eyeing diesel power for the GLC. The first model expected to go on sale in imported form is the GLC250d, powered by a 204hp 2.1-litre diesel-turbo driving all four wheels via the brand’s 4Matic system.
A less-potent version producing 170hp for the GLC220d is expected to follow in locally assembled form so that the price can fall to between 3 million and 3.5 million baht to stay competitive with the X3 20d and XC60 D4.
Although the GLC350e combines a 2.0-litre petrol motor and plug-in electric motor to satisfy hybrid rules for tax purposes, the semi-electric GLC is not available in the right-hand-drive guise.
The GLC will be Mercedes-Benz’s second SUV made in Thailand after the bigger ML-class, which will be renamed GLE when it gets a facelift this year. The GL, GLA and G-class are imported.
Other imported, premium compact SUVs on sale in the country include the Audi Q5, Land Rover Discovery Sport, Lexus NX, Porsche Macan and Range Rover Evoque.