The facelifted Mercedes-Benz GLK has been revealed, but won't be sold in the UK
4 April 2012

Despite assurances from its head of research and development Thomas Weber at the time of launch back in 2008, Mercedes-Benz has failed to deliver on the promise of finding an “engineering solution” to allow the first-generation GLK, pictured here officially in facelifted form for the first time, to be sold in right-hand drive – even with basic rear wheel drive.

See pictures of the Mercedes-Benz GLK

The BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Land Rover Freelander rivalling SUV - launched today at the New York motor show - is sold in all of the German car maker’s traditional left-hand drive markets but is not offered in the UK owing to a cost cutting decision made during the GLK’s development that meant its four-wheel drive system was engineered exclusively for left-hand drive. Other key right-hand drive markets denied the angular looking five-seater include South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and Thailand.

In spite of the earlier guarantee that the GLK, baby brother to the larger M- G- and GL-class, would be re-engineered to allow right-hand drive sales, Mercedes-Benz now says this won’t be possible until the introduction of a second-generation model, due out in 2015 and already undergoing development at the company’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany under the codename X205.

The problem, according to Mercedes-Benz engineering sources, is a driveshaft used to operate the front wheels on four-wheel drive versions of the GLK. It is positioned such that it encroaches slightly on the right-hand-side footwell, something Weber has revealed to Autocar can’t be altered without “significant and expensive” alterations to its steel floorpan and driveline architecture.

A low-cost solution that would have seen the first-generation GLK sold exclusively in rear-wheel drive form in right-hand drive has apparently now been ruled out by Mercedes-Benz, which concedes it has given Audi and BMW a major sales fillip in many important markets, including the UK. The M-, G- and GL class all use a different four-wheel drive system to the GLK.

See pictures of the Mercedes-Benz GLK

The facelifted GLK, set to get its first public outing at next week’s New York motor show, continues to be sold with the choice of three engines in Europe. They include Mercedes-Benz’s widely used 2.1-litre four-cylinder common rail unit – the OM651 as it is known internally.

It delivers 168bhp and 295lb ft in the entry level GLK220, which now comes in two distinct versions: the CDI 4Matic BlueEfficiency and BlueTec 4Matic – the latter equipped with a urea injection system that allows it to meet EU6 emission standards. Both models posses 0-62mph times of 8.8sec, combined cycle fuel consumption of 46.3mpg and average CO2 emissions of 159g/km.

Joining it is the GLK250 BlueTec 4Matic. It uses a twin-turbocharged version of the OM651 delivering the same 201bhp and 368lb ft of torque as the pre-facelifted version of the GLK but now comes fitted with urea injection as standard. It is claimed to hit 62mph in 8.0sec and return the same 46.3mpg and 159g/km figures as its less powerful diesel siblings.

Further up the range is the GLK350 CDI 4Matic with a 3.0-litre V6 common rail engine. It delivers 263bhp along with a sturdy 457lb ft – sufficient, according to official claims, for 0-62mph acceleration in 6.4sec together with 40.9mpg and 179g/km. Also available is the GLK350 4Matic BlueEfficiency. It runs the latest version of Mercedes-Benz’s naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6 petrol engine with 302hp and 273lb-ft. The top-of-the-line GLK hit 62mph in 6.5sec and returns 34.9mpg and 189g/km. Among the gearbox options is a six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic.

See pictures of the Mercedes-Benz GLK

Among the subtle visual changes brought to the boxy GLK are new bumpers, revised headlamps and tail lamps, reworked roof bars and new 17, 19 and 20-inch wheel designs. Buyers can also choose an AMG body kit.

The interior has also been upgraded with new instrument graphics, a column mounted gear selector – Mercedes-Benz’s so-called Direct Shift stalk that frees up space on the centre console for larger cup holders and added oddment stowage, round ventilation units and higher quality trim panels.

Among the options is a whole range of new safety features, including the anticipatory Pre-Safe system, collision avoiding Distronic Plus, drowsiness detecting Attention Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assistant, Active Blind Spot Assist. As part of an upgraded range of optional entertainment and system features, the facelifted GLK also offers a 360-degree parking camera.

The GLK is produced at Mercedes-Benz’s Bremen plant in Germany and at its joint venture factory run in co-operation with Beijing Auto Works in Beijing, China. The second-generation model is also planned to be produced alongside the M-, R- and GL class as well as the fourth-generation C-class at the company’s US-based plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Greg Kable


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Join the debate


22 March 2012

O woe is us! How will we manage without the Mercedes GLK?!

22 March 2012

"Other key right-hand drive markets denied the angular looking five-seater include South Africa, Australia, Indonesia and Thailand."

Does this mean Japan will be getting it, or are they not quite the significant market like Thailand apparantly is?

22 March 2012

With looks like that I think we've had a lucky escape.

22 March 2012

Gutted!! Seen a few of these about in LHD and they are truly hideous.

22 March 2012

I'm all for consumer choice and the free market but this is not really any loss is it?


22 March 2012

...this really annoys me.

As a died in the wool M-B man this is the only car I would trade my ML for, and I have wanted one of these since they were launched.

I am in various European countries regularly with my job, and every time I see these driving around it irks me more.

I really like the shape (unlike the naysayers who have posted above), sort of baby GL and I like the fact it has a 'proper' square back that you can actually load 'stuff' into rather than these silly 'stylish' sloping backed baubles - Audi Q3,5,7 etc.

Cant see the point of an Estate without an Estate back...pointless.

I like the sound of the naturally aspirated 3.5 Petrol. Still quite economical, no Turbos to wear out and no filthy expensive Diesel fuel to pump into it .

I think M-B have made a huge mistake not engineering this in RHD, and as someone has already mentioned there are a lot more countries than they quoted which are barred to this vehicle as a result, including Japan. I think they are trying to play down the enormity of the mistake...sometimes ze Germans dont always make right decisions...luckily for us from a historical point of view!!


22 March 2012

[quote Greg Kable]Japan receives the GLK in left-hand drive form . . .[/quote]

....thats just plain stupid....has Stuttgart been at the magic mushrooms again?!

22 March 2012

What a great shame we could have all enjoyed looking at this hideous contraption and ponder what idiot would buy that with hard earned money.Certainly nothing to aspire about.

22 March 2012

This is amazing - I saw one of these today and thought - OMG what have they done!! It is the most disproportionate design of all time. If it was a Ssangsong I could have understood it - but this is Mercedes??? Terrible looking car. A badly made brick on wheels. Thinking about it - I know that Merc supplied for a long time Ssangsong with engines - perhaps the return favour was design this nasty heap of metal and call it a Merc!

22 March 2012

[quote 289]I really like the shape (unlike the naysayers who have posted above), sort of baby GL and I like the fact it has a 'proper' square back that you can actually load 'stuff' into rather than these silly 'stylish' sloping backed baubles - Audi Q3,5,7 etc.[/quote]

I was starting to think I was the only one who thought so...I too really like the GLK and, quite frankly, it has no competitors design-wise - it's got an unashamedly chunky look reminiscent of the G-Class, and if memory serves me well it was described in road tests as having very good forward visibility due to the relatively steeply-raked windscreen. The interior looks quite nice as well, and it's actually not bad off-road either.

It is indeed quite a pity IMO.


- Follow your own star -


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