Mercedes-Benz has revealed its all-new GLK. Previewed as a concept car back in January, the edgy new four-wheel-drive model will make its official debut at this week’s Beijing motor show before going on sale across Europe in October.Based around modified underpinnings from the C-class 4Matic, the GLK is positioned beneath the Mercedes ML at a price that should see it pitched it into direct competition with the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Infiniti EX and Land Rover Freelander.Don’t expect it to make too much of an impact in the UK yet, though; we won’t have the new GLK in Britain until the next decade. Owing to the four-wheel drive system, which complicates right-hand drive production, Mercedes has the option of producing a rear-drive GLK, or fixing the four-wheel drive system for right-hand drive markets; the latter option could cost up to £50m.Mercedes-Benz does not deny that rear-wheel drive will be offered in the future, suggesting it will wait and see before making any firm decisions, but it has said that four-wheel drive would be more in keeping with the GLK’s image. “We’re aware many potential customers would be satisfied with rear-wheel drive,” said a source, “but the GLK was conceived as a four-wheel drive with substantial off-road ability and is being offered as such.” Whatever Mercedes chooses to do, don’t expect to see a UK-spec GLK until this European model is due for a facelift. Styled to resemble the larger GL, the GLK is claimed to make the most of its boxy exterior with interior space that is claimed to be on par with the larger and more expensive ML. At 4528mm in length, 1840mm in width and 1689mm in height, the new five-door is 42mm shorter, 15mm narrower and 14mm higher than the X3, itself due to be replaced by a new second-generation model in 2009. It’s also a good deal heavier than its BMW rival; the GLK280 tips the scales some 90kg over the X3 3.0, at 1830kg. Buyers can choose between three option packages, including a sports package aimed at boosting on-road performance with 19-inch wheels, stiffer springs, and 20mm lower ride height. An alternative, off-road specification brings 17-inch wheels, 210mm of ground clearance, approach and departure angles angle of 23 and 25 degrees, and added cladding and blackened roof rails. For those planning extreme off-roading there’s also a so-called ‘off-road engineering’ package. This adds DSR (Downhill Speed Regulation), and a function that automatically alters the shift points in the gearbox, remaps the throttle for greater sensitivity and engages an off-road program for the ESP (Electronic Stability Control) at the press of a button. The GLK will be sold with the choice of four engines from launch. Petrol options include 231bhp, 3.0-litre and 272bhp, 3.5-litre V6s; the latter endows the top-of-the-line GLK350 with 0-62mph acceleration of 6.7sec, a 143mph top speed, combined fuel economy of 27.2mpg and a CO2 rating of 250g/km.As with the X3, though, it is the diesels that are expected to account for the majority of sales. Among them is Mercedes-Benz’s new 170bhp, 2.1-litre, four-cylinder, common-rail diesel in the entry-level GLK220 CDI BlueEfficiency. With 295lb ft of torque, it is claimed to hit 62mph in 8.8sec and reach a top speed of 127mph, while averaging 40.9mpg and emitting 183g/km of CO2. It will be joined in the new line-up by a more powerful 3.0-litre, V6, common-rail diesel packing 224bhp and a prodigious 398lb ft of torque.At the Geneva motor show in March Mercedes-Benz hinted at a hybrid version of its new off-roader that mates the GLK BlueEfficiency’s 2.1-litre diesel with an electric motor for combined total of 224bhp and 413lb ft. That’s sufficient, it says, for 0-62mph in 7.3sec, a 134mph top speed, 47.7mpg and 157g/km. No mention of this model is made in the launch line-up, but sources have revealed to Autocar that it is being readied for sale in 2010. All of the GLK variants will come with Mercedes’ seven-speed automatic transmission as standard.In the lead-up to its launch later this year, Mercedes-Benz is making some bold claims about the GLK’s on-road handling and ride quality, both of which are said to benefit from an ultra-stiff steel body shell and C-class-based suspension. Unlike the ML and GL. which hail from Mercedes-Benz’s US plant in Tuscaloosa, the GLK is set to roll out of the same factory that produces the CLK, SLK and SL in Bremen, Germany. Insiders are remaining tightlipped on anticipated production volumes, but with the first-generation BMW X3 attracting over 100,000 buyers during its fifth year of production, it is unlikely to remain a niche market.