Detroit show car shows us what to expect from Mercedes' Freelander
3 January 2008

Mercedes-Benz describes this 4x4 as a concept, but ignore the shiny wheels and low-profile tyres and you have the production version of the firm’s all new compact 4x4, the GLK, which will go on sale in Europe this coming October. Called the Vision GLK Freeside, this concept will make its debut at the Detroit motor show on 14 January. But don’t hold your breath waiting for the BMW X3-rival to arrive in the UK. The GLK’s four-wheel drive system uses space in the right-hand footwell for the front driveshaft, so it won’t be built as a right-hand-drive model. Mercedes is planning a rear-wheel-drive model that would do away with the extra driveshaft; this could then be engineered for right-hand drive markets. But there’s been no confirmation that this will happen.

GL-class after a boil wash

At 4520mm long, the GLK is 260mm shorter than the ML. It is also 20mm shorter than BMW’s X3. It shares much of its underpinnings with the C-class, including its MacPherson strut (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension.Inside, the GLK gets its own dashboard and centre console, with C-class instruments and switchgear.Mercedes has yet to reveal drivetrain combinations for the GLK, although they will include a 230bhp 3.0-litre V6 petrol (GLK280) and a 170bhp 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel (GLK220 CDI).The show car gets this diesel engine, fitted with Bluetec technology including AdBlue urea injection to cut nitrogen oxide emissions.Further upmarket will be a better-equipped 305bhp 3.5-litre V6 petrol (GLK350) and a 224bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel (GLK320 CDI).The car comes with an off-road setting that softens throttle response and changes gearshift points. It also has Downhill Speed Regulation, which keeps the speed constant during off-road descents. In early 2009 Mercedes will launch a range-topping GLK63 AMG with a 6.2-litre V8 whose output, like that of the newly launched C63 AMG, will be capped at 450bhp.

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Comments
8

4 January 2008

Thank god they are not building it in right hand drive format, the bloody thing is another 4x4 monstrosity. It will be mistaken for being like the Lincoln 4x4 thing in the states.

4 January 2008

It has a touch of the Rodiuss' about it, in my opinion.

5 January 2008

It looks as awkward as its name... Have Merc set out to make it even uglier than the X3? And what on earth is 'Freeside' supposed to mean? But then I've never liked 'Freelander' and it didn't seem to affect sales of that.

6 January 2008

I was expecting the GLK to mirror the good looks of the ML, but what has been created looks woeful - just hope it's one of those cars that looks better in the flesh than in pics.

Styling aside though, the fact that the car isn't available in RHD appears to be another example of some flaws that appear to creep into Merc's design & engineering processes now and then in recent years. Remember the handling probs with the 1st gen A-Class and the Elk est. And then there were issues with Merc's Brake Assist when that was 1st launched. Also probs when their 5-cylinder diesel engine wouldn't fit under the bonnet of some of their models. Then who could forget the woeful quality and build issues with the previous generation of Mercs that started off with the 1st A-Class and ending with the current E-Class - with the main example being the previous ML-Class.

16 January 2008

First off, I too didn't like the looks of the GLK at first, but now it's grown on me. Besides, you can't really judge a car before you see it in the flesh.

Secondly, I hate sincerely hate comments like yours which all say how Mercedes is lacking in engineering and quality and bla bla bla...the problems you mentioned above have occurred between around 1996 and 2004, which means that you're judging the company on a mere 7% of its life...what I ask is this; have they solved the problems now? Yes, they have, and they have admitted that they have passed through bad times, but now they're working hard to recover their fame! The new A-Class got 4.5 stars from Autocar, and was commended on its ride and handling excellence; according to the latest American JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey, Mercedes is now one of the most improved companies ranking with the top 5 and having the best-in-class models, and the new C-Class has been tested over 15 million miles of all types of terrain which probably makes it the most tested car in history, even when excluding the other tests they make (which are rather extensive).

I can also assure you that they're very serious about the business: I cannot say much, but I have some internal information every now and then on these issues, and they are taking very strict measures. Please do not bring up again the RHD conversion problem of the GLK, because the problem is more likely that they prefer spending money on more useful things rather than converting the GLK to RHD and making only a marginal profit, especially since this is a new market for them, meaning that they don't know exactly how it will fare.

 

- Follow your own star -

17 January 2008

[quote Christian Galea]

Secondly, I hate sincerely hate comments like yours which all say how Mercedes is lacking in engineering and quality and bla bla bla...the problems you mentioned above have occurred between around 1996 and 2004, which means that you're judging the company on a mere 7% of its life...what I ask is this; have they solved the problems now? Yes, they have, and they have admitted that they have passed through bad times, but now they're working hard to recover their fame! The new A-Class got 4.5 stars from Autocar, and was commended on its ride and handling excellence; according to the latest American JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey, Mercedes is now one of the most improved companies ranking with the top 5 and having the best-in-class models, and the new C-Class has been tested over 15 million miles of all types of terrain which probably makes it the most tested car in history, even when excluding the other tests they make (which are rather extensive).

I can also assure you that they're very serious about the business: I cannot say much, but I have some internal information every now and then on these issues, and they are taking very strict measures. Please do not bring up again the RHD conversion problem of the GLK, because the problem is more likely that they prefer spending money on more useful things rather than converting the GLK to RHD and making only a marginal profit, especially since this is a new market for them, meaning that they don't know exactly how it will fare.

[/quote]

Don't think you've quite grasped my comments or read it properly.

I just pointed out a few, but rather surprisingly large and fundamental, flaws that crept into the engineering processes in the past few years - not since day 1 to the present day. I haven't actually nailed any Mercs, or even commented on the chassis of the latest A-Class which is a fab car but you felt you needed to have a go at me about.

However, no-one can dispute that the interior and build quality of Mercs that started off with the 1st A-Class and ended with the current E-Class were sub-standard and did not befit the 3-pointed star. Thankfully, these matters have been addressed with only the current E-Class being the fly in the ointment.

I am a huge Merc fan, but i just made an observation and i'd do the same with any other maque. And in case you still have your doubts about me, i believe the Merc S-Class is the best car in its class by miles, while the C-Class & E-Class are equal to a 3-Series and 5-Series, even if they're all 2nd best to Mondeo and XF respectively.. So Christian, what is really getting to you?

19 January 2008

Please note that I'm not going at you, but sometimes I get very angry at similar comments: sorry if I was too aggressive; however, your comment seemed to give the impression that Mercedes isn't a good brand; you emphasised too much the problems they had in that short era, which was a-bit cruel, even if true, since they are working very hard to eliminate the problems. What really heated me up was your comment of "some flaws that appear to creep into Merc's design & engineering processes now and then in recent years"...what problems have they got "now"? As I said the GLK right-hand-drive conversion isn't an engineering problem. Also, you are mistaken about saying that you didn't comment about the chassis of the A-Class: then what about the 'slight' mention of the elk test? Anyway, what's past is past: quality issues have been largely addressed and are on the right track.

As to the C-Class and E-Class, I agree that both are superior to its Bavarian rivals, however I do not entirely agree with them being inferior to the Mondeo and Jaguar. I cannot deny that I was rather 'envious' at how journalists seemed to rave about the Mondeo about being sporty and comfortable, while giving the impression that the C-Class is just as comfortable but not as sporty, which is a great achievement for Ford. However, the Mondeo is already having various problems, such as water draining into the boot when the tailgate is opened; on the other hand, the C-Class won't have much issues having been tested over 15 million miles. As to the XF, I do think that it's a better car, but let us not forget that the E-Class is now around 6 years old; considering this age, it has remained quite competitive. However, I cannot really say which is the better of them all since I have not driven them.

Therefore, as to your question of what's really getting to me...I reply that we should see the true facts and not try to bring ridiculous excuses. Of course, every company has its weaknesses, but I can assure you that Mercedes not only records and admits these problems, but also solves them and goes to great lengths to ensure these problems wouldn't occur again: both in terms of reliability and even in other areas.

One last note to Kee Law: I have to agree (in part) to Mercedes having image problems, although for different reasons. I do think that they appeal to younger markets: the C-Class Sport, SLK and CLS are just 3 models coming into my mind right now, and I think that the AMG versions look good considering what they're aimed for. What I don't like is that they don't seem to be as creative as before: I have never seen any design similar to those fabulous twin-headlights like those on the E-Class and the elegant rear light clusters like those on the previous-generation S-Class (excluding Chinese cars, obviously) which were quite original. The fact that they are now using single headlights and different rear clusters like the rest is not problem, mind, but they don't have that sense of originality as before. For example, the CLS, although having single headlights, is simply a work of art and cannot see how they haven't incorporated more of its design into its other cars, so much so that Porsche, Aston and VW want to produce models to compete against it: the just-unveiled-VW was even spied testing alongside the CLS! Also, I was quite disappointed by the interior of the C-Class: the main problem being, I think, the air vents, which look a-bit cheap...especially when I think of the second-newest model (ignoring face-lifts): the S-Class, which has an interior rivals would die for...hope next year's E-Class interior will be more S-Class than C-Class, but time will tell.

What I can be sure of right now that despite these minor niggles, new Merc's are much improved over their current versions considering the vast range they have and the great list of problems they encountered in that small 'era', and I'm sure that time will cure these problems.

 

- Follow your own star -

19 January 2008

The first photo of the GLK I saw were from a motor show and just the side. I thought Chris 'mangle' Bangle had jumped ship from BMW to Mercedes as it looked like slab sided panels at disjointed angles that neither expressed clever forms or any function!

Now I've seen the front and rear shots it's gone up in my estimation but not enough to describe the GLK as a "looker". If it's an X3 competitor then let it compete (in RHD too!).

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