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.