What is it?
Mercedes-Benz’s edgy retort to the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Land Rover Freelander – the GLK.
The new mid-sized SUV sits on modified underpinnings from the company’s C-class 4Matic, and just like that car, the GLK has not been engineered for right hand drive and will not be sold in the UK. At least, not until 2011 when the German car maker says it plans to launch a right-hand drive version following what officials describe as “a major modification to the four-wheel drive system and a repositioning of the steering rack”.
The GLK slots in at the bottom of Mercedes’ SUV hierarchy, below the ML, GL and G-Wagen.
What’s it like
Surprisingly butch, considering its C-Class underpinnings. The moment your backside slides onto the GLK’s driver’s seat you are aware that the interior feels different from the soft-roader norm.
It all centres around GLK’s upright windscreen. Mercedes says it took inspiration from the G-class in creating its latest SUV, and this is not only reflected with the 50-degree rake of the windscreen but in many areas of the interior as well.
To call it old fashioned is probably going a little too far. The materials and trims are all very modern. But the shallow dashboard and upright seatbacks immediately remind you of 4x4s from the past. This is no real criticism, but it does mean that the Mercedes GLK takes a little getting used to first time out. That said, it is extremely comfortable over long distances.
Accommodation is quite generous, perhaps not class leading but thanks to the more upright packaging it’s better than the C-class estate. Large door apertures also ease entry – something that can’t be said for all rivals. With a nominal 450-litres below the luggage cover, the boot is not exactly commodious, but it has a low sill and flat floor even when the rear seats are folded away.
The range-topping GLK320 CDI boasts a 224bhp 3.0-litre common rail diesel. Despite having a hefty 1880kg to haul, the engine does an impressive job of propelling the bulky car.
Its prodigious 398lb ft of torque combines nicely with the slick action of the standard seven speed automatic gearbox to provide brisk off-the-line acceleration and impressive in-gear performance. Mercedes claims a 7.5sec 0-62mph time and a 137mph top speed, along with a combined fuel economy of 35.8mpg.
Predictably, it is the ride that impresses the most, though. Long travel and well matched spring rates ensure a first class ride, both around town and at higher speeds out on the open road.
A brief excursion away from the bitumen revealed the GLK is capable of delivering more in terms of off-road ability than most prospective buyers are ever likely to seek.
Should I buy one?
Sadly from British buyers, you can’t – for now at least. Which is a real shame as, on first impressions, this is a car that feels capable of running with the best in the pack.