The GLK is dead, long live the GLC. It might not seem like it at first, but the Mercedes-Benz alphabet soup is about to get less complex. Naming the SUV lines to correspond with the sedan lineup, the M, K and the like are being turfed in favour of C, E, and S.

The C-Class sedan lines up with the GLC (formerly GLK), the E-Class with the GLE (formerly ML). It will – eventually – be a more intuitive naming convention that helps customers understand where each model sits in the size range. Or at least it should be.

They made us wade through half-an-hour of “brand synergy” waffle first, but the Mercedes-Benz GLC was unveiled in Stuttgart on Wednesday to an admiring audience.

The GLC is perhaps not as radical a departure as expected from the GLK – it’s more a rounding of the edges to create a more fluid profile. But there are significant changes under the skin, perhaps the most significant of which is the powertrain lineup coming to Canada.

Because the new plug-in hybrid powertrain is 4Matic (the first Benz plug-in hybrid mated to a four-wheel drive powertrain ) it will eventually come to Canada, as will the diesel engine. For now, Canadians will get the GLC 300 4Matic with the same 2.0L, four-cylinder turbo from the C 300. An all-new nine-speed (9G-Tronic) gearbox will send power to all four wheels, because Canada.

This GLC and the GLE will be the first cars to hit the road with the extra cog as Mercedes-Benz joins the ridiculous gearbox arms race. The four-cylinder also replaces the six-cylinder currently in the GLK, with a resultant power drop to 241 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is not released but thanks to the smaller engine, nine-speed gearbox, reduced weight (Benz claims a reduction of 80 kg) and a lower drag coefficient, Mercedes-Benz expects a significant improvement in fuel economy.

On the subject of weight, figures for the 300 4Matic were not available, but the European models start at 1,735 kg for the 250 4Matic, go to 1,845 kg for the 220 d (diesel) and 250 d, up to 2,025 kg for the 350 e. Expect the 300 4Matic to land around the 1,845 kg mark.

In the increasingly competitive SUV segment design is vital to win the hearts and minds of consumers and Mercedes-Benz has paid careful attention to detail here. The colour palette is also revised and the interior materials plush and pleasing to touch.

The thick, soft leather is quilted, giving the interior a generously luxurious atmosphere. It’s a large space too, Mercedes-Benz claims an increase in overall passenger volume and I saw two six-foot tall gentlemen sit behind each other. The one in the rear seat had an inch and a half of spare headroom and ample legroom. Needless to say, my 5’6″ frame fit in there with consummate ease.

The porous wood and brushed aluminum feels as spectacular as it looks, and as you might expect it is all real. Even the buttons feel a little heavier and more substantial than the buttons and switchgear of the predecessor.

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