We at CarSifu have narrowed it down to the Mercedes-Benz GLC 200 and the Toyota Harrier 2.0T Luxury because in the luxury segment, it would, more often than not, boil down to either a German or Japanese marque.
Where luxury is concerned, Mercedes-Benz has a solid reputation for it and most Malaysians will agree that driving a Three-Pointed Star immediately elevates one’s status in terms of the level of earning power or, at the very least, is someone with good taste in motorcars.
Toyota is also a favourite among generations of Malaysians. Its foray into the luxury segment however started in the late 1990s with the formation of its luxury division, Lexus, to take the fight straight to the Germans.
The Harrier however, is Toyota’s own interpretation of luxury without being a Lexus especially where this generation of Harrier is concerned.
One can think of it like a Seiko Presage dress watch where it has all the hallmarks of a luxury timepiece without it being a Grand Seiko. Also, the Harrier is fully imported from Japan while the GLC 200 is locally assembled from the plant in Pekan, Pahang.
So let’s see what these two vehicles have to offer.
CarSifu pits two luxury SUVs priced below RM300K with completely different aesthetics so you can decide on your first luxury SUV.
Mercedes-Benz GLC 200
THE GLC is a much younger model than the Harrier, having debuted in 2015 to replace the GLK-Class. Since then, the GLC has become an important growth driver for Mercedes-Benz. To widen the appeal, Mercedes-Benz has sliced and diced the model range and put together an entry version that’s more affordable.
How does RM276,351 sound? But it won’t stay this way once the re-introduced Sales & Services Tax is applied on Sept 1.
The GLC 200 is a chunky, attractively styled SUV and appeals as much to soccer mums as those aspiring to acquire their first luxury SUV.
Despite the GLC 200 being only rear-wheel driven, Mercedes-Benz has, oddly enough, pitched it as being offroad-oriented. The GLC 200 receives off-road suspension package with raised ride height, an imitative underguard and aluminium-look running boards with rubber studs to round off the effect. It also gets generous amounts of exterior chrome. Just check out the front, the sides and the rear to see what we mean.
Like most non-4WD SUVs, the GLC 200 is able to perform light offroading and we reckon this is one way to give it a clear differentiation from the sportier GLC 250 4Matic. At the very least, the higher ground clearance of the GLC 200 should make it easier to cross flooded roads.
LED headlamps with the curly LED DRLs flanked an intricate grillework with the huge Mercedes star as the centrepiece. Keeping cost down, the headlights have the adaptive high beam assist and cornering feature deleted. Keyless entry is also absent.
The cabin, with all its meters and controls, is a spitting image of the C-Class except that the GLC has a higher ride height advantage.
Obviously for less money you get less kit but Mercedes has been careful to ensure the lowest-priced GLC still have what we call essential luxury so that you won’t feel this is any less of a Mercedes.
Black synthetic leather upholstery pairs well with Brown Ash wood trim. Seating space for five is comfortable and adequate. The SUV has a good-sized boot, which can be expanded by flattening the one-touch split-folding rear seats.
Safety equipment levels are high and they include Collision Prevention Assist Plus, seven airbags, Attention Assist, Crosswind Assist, Pre-Safe system. and adaptive brake lights.
The GLC 200 is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged 4 in-line engine, which produces 184hp and 300Nm of torque. Power is relayed to the rear wheels via a 9-speed auto gearbox.
The GLC 200 is no sluggard. On the move, the power surge is progressive.
We enjoyed the way momentum builds up as we toggle to the more aggressive drive modes. It’s equipped with paddle shifters; but we rarely found the need to use them, as the gears shift quickly and smoothly. Steering feel is muted but can be improved somewhat in S and S+ modes.
The GLC 200 tackles corners confidently and oversteer is easily handled with the onboard electronic nannies. The SUV is in its element when cruising on the highways, making for a very pleasant and pliant ride.
In hilly ascents, the SUV shows it’s up to the task once the engine revs up to its power band and stays there. It tackles rough roads with poise. In wet slippery conditions, the Pirelli tyres grip strongly and effective stoppers make for a short and safe braking distance.
Toyota Harrier 2.0T Luxury
THE Harrier originally started out as a Japan Domestic Market (JDM) model when production began in 1998 and it shared a similar design with the Lexus RX, which was offered for the international market.
A little over 10 years later in 2009, the RX, now in its third generation was released for the domestic Japanese market and Toyota decided to develop an all-new design for the Harrier due to its popularity.
Malaysians were also equally impressed with the Harrier but had to depend solely on parallel importers to own the vehicle.
That has all changed as UMW Toyota Motor (UMWT) is now offering the latest Harrier SUV, imported from Japan and with two variants to choose from: the Harrier 2.0T Premium and 2.0T Luxury, priced (on-the-road without insurance and GST) RM224,573 and RM245,233 respectively.
The latest Harrier has a cleaner overall design and, what stands out is the distinctive grille which has sharp, angled features with the eye-catching hawk emblem to produce an aggressive yet elegant front fascia.
As the top of the range SUV for Toyota, both variants of the Harrier are packed with safety, comfort and convenience features.
The safety system it comes with is off the chart with the Toyota Safety Sense (TSS) Package, which consists of the Pre-Crash System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping System and Adaptive High Beam which keeps the driver and passengers safe. It also comes with seven airbags.
The cabin of the Luxury variant is wrapped in premium Nappa leather and in the review unit, it was black leather with red stitching all around providing for a comfortable and luxurious surrounding. Meanwhile, the Premium variant comes with Ultrasuede upholstery.
What sets the Luxury variant apart is the inclusion of a panoramic moonroof, a power-operated boot and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.
The Harrier is also equipped with the DVD-AVX infotainment system with six speakers, smartphone connectivity. It also features the 7-inch Capacitive Colour Touchscreen which also serves as the rearview camera.
The driver gets access to the vehicle through its Multi Information Display (MID) placed in the middle of the instrument cluster. The meters are Optitron types which were originally developed for Lexus models and gives a clearer view in any lighting condition.
There is the dual zone air-conditioning climate control with rear vents to keep the cabin cool but, on top of this, the driver and front passenger seats come with a ventilation system for even more comfort and convenience. And it has an 8-way power adjustment for the former and 4-way for the latter.
Everything from engaging (or disengaging) the lane departure alert which beeps consistently if the radar detects you are edging off the lane without using the indicator, to enjoying the everyday convenience of the brake hold function or dazzled by the Adaptive High Beam system which illuminates the path ahead through its LED headlights, the Harrier is simply a friendly car to operate and a joy to drive.
The 2.0L turbo-charged engine pulls the car along effortlessly with 228hp and 350Nm of torque. The Harrier is built for comfort and as such, the cabin is very well insulated from external noise and the exhaust note is thrilling but not in-your-face.
That doesn’t mean the car can’t be pushed. It has enough power on tap to pull away quickly and accelerating hard does excite.
Each SUV has its strengths and weaknesses.
At RM276,351, the GLC 200 is around RM30,000 more expensive than the Harrier, banking on its German heritage to command that premium.
The Harrier counters by offering richer amenities like the moonroof and more safety for its asking price.
While appearance is subjective, we think the GLC has a more expressive face with detailing that is more winsome. Viewed from the sides and the rear however, the Harrier is the sleeker and more elegant SUV on account of its extra length and the slimmer, stretched-out tail lights.
Although the Harrier is longer, narrower and taller than the GLC, it has a 21cm shorter wheelbase, translating to a smaller interior space. In second row, the narrower space is offset by a near-flat floor unlike the GLC which has a prominent centre transmission tunnel.
We like the dash and centre console of the GLC - except the thick bezel of the infotainment screen - more than those of the Harrier, which looks rather conventional.
The Harrier’s boot space is also 110 litres less. Although both have low wide loading bays, the GLC’s makes deeper inroads into the cabin.
However, the Harrier wins on the performance front with a far more potent engine that endows it with a spritely 0-100kph sprint of 7.3s (vs 8.7s for GLC 200). The driving experience is also more punchy but then higher fuel consumption is the sobering fact.
While the German has its innate appeal, we lean towards the Harrier as the better buy.
We believe the Harrier offers very good value for the luxurious appointments, the comfort it provides, its practicality and high level of safety features.
It stands at the top of the pyramid as a luxury vehicle from Toyota and you would be hard pressed to find a car offering so much below the RM300K mark. Sweetening the package is a 5-year warranty as opposed to the 4-years offered for the GLC 200. — GEORGE WONG
and RIZAL JOHAN
Toyota Harrier 2.0T Luxury
Engine: 1,998cc, twin-scroll turbocharged, 4-cylinder, 16 valve, DOHC with VVT-iW & D-4ST
Maximum power: 228hp from 5,200rpm to 5,600rpm
Maximum torque: 350Nm from1,650rpm to 4,000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with SuperECT
Features: Seven airbags, automatic Bi-LED with Sequential Turn Signal, LED cornering lamps, LED Daytime Running Lights, LED front fog lamps and rear combination lamps, panoramic moon roof, power tail gate, rain sensing wipers, DVD player with 7-inch touchscreen, smartphone connectivity, Wi-Fi, Internet Browser, Voice Recognition, HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, Navigation and reverse camera, dual zone automatic climate control, Nappa leather seats, driver seat 8-way power adjustable with memory, passenger seat 4-way power adjustable, ventilated seats, electrochromic rearview mirror, leather steering wheel with tilt and telescopic adjustment, Toyota Safety Sense featuring Pre-Crash System, Lane Departure Alert, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Adaptive High-beam System, vehicle stability control, anti-lock braking system, brake assist, emergency stop signal, electronic parking brake with automatic brake hold,
front and rear parking sensors,
Acceleration (0-100kph): 7.3s
Combined fuel consumption: 7.6 l/100km
Top speed: 180kph
Warranty: 5-years, unlimited mileage
Price: RM245,233 (on-the-road without GST and no insurance)
Mercedes-Benz GLC 200
Engine: 1,991cc, turbocharged, 4 cylinder
Maximum power: 184hp at 5,500 rpm
Maximum torque: 300Nm at 1,200 rpm
Transmission: 9G-Tronic 9-speed automatic
Features: Seven airbags including driver kneebag, off-road suspension, cruise control, Dynamic Select, Exterior Chrome Package, Exclusive Line Interior, Eco Start/stop Function, Active Brake Assist, Pre-Safe System, Interior Monitoring System, Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, adaptive brake lights, 19-inch run-flat tyres, reversing camera, LED High Performance Headlamps, Audio 20 CD, ambient lighting, automatic climate control, Keyless-Go starting, Parking Pilot with Parktronic, touchpad with controller, electrically-folding exterior mirrors, running boards, four-way lumbar support, Stowage Space Package, double cup holder, Easy-Pack Tailgate, electrically-adjustable front seats, anti-theft warning system, Garmin Map Pilot, sunshades for rear doors, front door sill panels with ‘Mercedes-Benz’ lettering, brown open-pore Ash Wood Trim, polished aluminium roof rails, Isofix
Acceleration (0-100kph): 8.7s
Combined fuel consumption: 7 l/100km
Top speed: 210kph
Warranty: 4-years, unlimited mileage
Price: RM276,351 (on-the-road without GST and no insurance)