The GLK, Mercedes' best-selling SUV, was never available in Singapore as only left-hand-drive units were made.
Its successor, the GLC, is available in both right- and left-hand- drive and will now fill a conspicuous void in the fast-growing compact crossover segment.
The GLC is more urbane than the GLK, which was stiff and boxy. It adopts the sweeping lines of the Concept GLC Coupe shown earlier this year.
Best seen with 20-inch wheels, as in the test car, it looks sporty and purposeful - especially from the front. Its three-dimensional grille, with twin louvres supporting the marque's celebrated logo and flanked by recessed headlamps, adds to the occasion.
A multitude of creases originating from the front bumper envelop the sleek profile of the GLC. The car has a drag-coefficient of 0.31, an admirable figure for a crossover.
SPECS/ MERCEDES-BENZ GLC250 4MATIC
Price: To be announced
Engine: 1,991cc 16-valve turbocharged inline-4
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic with shift paddles
Power: 211bhp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 350Nm at 1,200-4000rpm
0-100kmh: 7.3 seconds
Top speed: 222kmh
Fuel consumption: 7.1 litres/ 100km
Agent: Cycle & Carriage
From the rear, it looks squat and lower than the BMW X3, with muscular shoulders and a gently sloping roofline. Rear LED lamps are slim and do not occupy much real estate at the back.
The city-friendly shape sits on a modified Mercedes-Benz C-class platform.
Its cabin is a very nice place to be in, with top-drawer materials that feel expensive to the touch. The sweeping theme of its exterior extends to the dashboard and flows into the centre console, punctuated by a centrally positioned infotainment display.
The driving position is hatch-like. You get a sporty three-spoke steering wheel and a large expanse of glass offering good all-round visibility. The back offers plenty of space, with enough legroom for passengers more than 1.8m tall.
Boot space is class-competitive, with a capacity of 550 litres. Rear seats fold in 40/20/40 sections, and when all are completely flattened, cargo capacity goes up to 1,600 litres. These figures are incidentally the same as the BMW X3's, and 10 and 40 litres respectively more than the Audi Q5's when the seats are unfolded and folded.
For now, Mercedes-Benz is offering the GLC with 2.1-litre turbodiesel engines with either 170bhp or 204bhp, known as the 220d 4MATIC and 250d 4MATIC.
The 2-litre petrol-driven 250 4MATIC is also turbocharged and produces 211bhp.
All engines are said to be more efficient and reduce CO2 emissions by up to 19 per cent.
The test car is the 250 4MATIC. Power delivery is smooth and refined, with external noises kept to a minimum by a well-insulated cabin. Some 350Nm of torque is there for the taking from 1,200rpm.
With a nine-speed autobox, it hits 100kmh in 7.3 seconds, with power sent to all four wheels in a 45:55 front-rear split. However, the car's architecture requires this to be adjusted to 31:69 for the right-hand-drive version.
The GLC very much drives like a car despite its taller stance, with body roll well under control except around the tightest hairpins. The standard Dynamic Select handling system offers five programs: Eco, Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Individual (for personalised configurations).
These adjust the engine, transmission and steering responses as well as the suspension settings. The ride in Comfort mode is well damped and comfortable.
The test-drive includes an off- road spin in a car fitted with Mercedes' optional Offroad Engineering package and air suspension (which allows ride height to be adjusted by up to 50mm). The car acquits itself rather well on the rugged course, which includes steep inclines and descents.
When it arrives in Singapore probably in the first quarter of next year, the GLC250 is expected to steal sales from BMW and Audi.
•The writer is a contributor to Torque, a motoring monthly published by SPH Magazines.