What is it?
It started out pretty much as planned. We’d headed off early morning and spent the first couple of hours running on a series of snow-strewn roads not far from Arvidsjaur in the northern reaches of Sweden, where Mercedes-Benz carries out the majority of its winter testing activities, typically in sub-zero temperatures.
But when the snow that had been dumping down turned to rain and the particular road on which we were driving a prototype of the new GLC became covered in an instant layer of clear-glaze ice, things suddenly became a lot more treacherous.
Mercedes, for its part, was seeking to display the traction enhancing effects of the facelifted SUV’s reworked 4Matic four-wheel drive system ahead of its planned unveiling at the Geneva motor show in early March.
What the company's head of overall testing activities, Peter Kolb, perhaps hadn't banked on, though, was a freakish change in weather conditions. “I’ve been coming here for years. To get rain like this at his time of the year is quite unusual,” he tells us.
But despite the precarious conditions and next to no grip as we headed uphill, the GLC excelled. Even without the benefit of studded tyres, it still managed to keep moving, thanks to the deft apportioning of power to each wheel. As a display of just how far modern four-wheel drive and electronic stability systems have come, it couldn’t have been better.