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Monsoon proofing: M-B’s SUV thoroughly tested for Malaysian conditions

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 24 August 2016

pekan

By YAMIN VONG

MERCEDES-BENZ Malaysia yesterday launched its first locally assembled SUV, the GLC 250 4Matic with a 9-speed automatic transmission at a tentative price of RM325,888.

Tentative or not, the company has already taken 600 bookings for the locally assembled SUV which replaces the fully imported model launched earlier this year at a higher price.

With the introduction of Mercedes-Benz SUV – the GLC, the GLE and the GLE Coupe in Malaysia earlier this year, the German premium carmaker occupies a significant portion of the premium SUV market share with around 700 of its SUVs sold since launch.

Ingbert Grombach (left) and Dr Claus Weidner (right).

Ingbert Grombach (left) and Dr Claus Weidner (right).

“With local production efforts, we are strengthening our global competitiveness and are closer to our Malaysian customers and their needs,” said Dr Claus Weidner, President and CEO, Mercedes-Benz Malaysia.

“With 7,710 vehicles produced in 2015, we are successfully supporting the local economy by boosting the local car manufacturing industry in Malaysia,” Weidner said at the assembly plant in Pekan.

Later, during a short tour of the Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 4Matic line, the vice-president of the Mercedes-Benz Pekan production plant, Ingbert Grombach attended to what must be one of the most frequently asked questions he has to deal with locally.

What is the difference between a fully imported Mercedes-Benz car and locally produced one? Is the quality the same?

The answer is the politically correct one, that all Mercedes-Benz cars produced in the 27 plants worldwide are a uniform high quality.

However, he illustrated that there were differences in production to achieve the same and sometimes, even higher quality for locally produced models.

“A Mercedes-Benz car made in Germany is a high volume production where the the car is moved on a conveyor system. A Mercedes-Benz car made in Pekan is a small volume production where we tailor make the car, moving the car on a dolly when the assembly line workers at each station complete the particular task.

“In Pekan, we do things that the German plant doesn’t do. For instance, in Pekan each Mercedes-Benz car undergoes a 10 minute water test. Water is poured, almost like a waterfall, on top, underneath and all over on each car. We don’t do this in Germany because we don’t have this type of rain in Germany.

“Secondly, when we install the panaromic roof on a car made in Pekan, we do it by hand. In Germany, robots install this.

“We use a glue that synergises with the local high humidity and temperature and every six months, we take a panaromic sunroof model out of the production line for a 100 per cent random testing of the panaromic roof,” said Grombach.

The Mercedes-Benz Pekan plant scored a 10 out of 10 indepe ndent quality audit last year.

ROAD TEST

We drove the Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 4Matic from Kuala Lumpur to Pekan and the 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol engine powered the surprisingly light 1,735 kg (kerb weight ie weight of the car without passengers but with a 73 litre full tank of petrol) with aplomb.

The 9 speed automatic, another first in a locally assembled Mercedes-Benz, was a joy to paddle shift.

The sports-tuned suspension mastered the tricky undulations of the off-highway Pekan dual carriageway in some situations where the suspension of lesser cars would have frightened the driver.

Performance specs:

1. Fuel consumption is stated at 6.5 – 7.1 litres per 100 km combined (ECE).

2. Acceleration 0-100 km/h 7.3 seconds

3. CO2 emissions 152 -166 grams/km