Mercedes-Benz's BMW X3 killer, the GLK350, makes its debut April 20 at the Beijing Auto China show. The compact crossover sport/utility was previewed by two concepts at the Detroit show in January, and goes on sale in the U.S. next January as a 2010 model.
It will come with two drivetrain options; rear-wheel-drive, or 4Matic full-time all-wheel-drive with a 45/55 torque split, combined with a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 and seven-speed automatic transmission. Mercedes estimates a curb weight of just over two tons, and a sleek 0.35 coefficient of drag, good for a 6.5-second 0-60 mph time and 23-mpg highway fuel consumption. The suspension features "amplitude-dependent damping," a system designed for comfortable compliance and minimal roll in the corners, and steering is speed-sensitive, with maximum power assistance for parking or off-roading (ha), less at higher speeds.
Other key features include 235/50 tires on standard 19-inch, 10-spoke wheels, two-zone automatic climate control, adjustable steering column, electrically adjustable height and backrest angle and manual lumbar support for the front seats, and integrated Bluetooth for mobile phones, a microphone for the hands-free system and central five-inch color display.
The interior features Sienna Pine wood and chrome trim accents, cupholders integrated into the driver's armrest and optional COMAND multi-media system (Benz's simpler answer to iDrive). Options include Panorama sunroof, SIRIUS radio, power liftgate, Bi-Xenon headlamps with adaptive lighting and washing system, rain sensing wipers, and a Multimedia Package that adds hard-drive navigation and rear-view backup camera. An Appearance Package adds 20-inch, seven-spoke wheels, aluminum roof rails and a full leather interior with burl walnut trim.
Design-wise, the GLK is much more mini-GL-Class than M-Class, with the former's chiseled, angular sheetmetal. While the GL and M are built in Alabama to take best advantage of the U.S. market, the GLK will be built in Bremen, Germany. It's designed to compete with the aforementioned X3 and the Volvo XC60, Infiniti EX35/37, Acura RDX and upcoming Audi Q5 and production version of the Cadillac Provoq.
Standard safety includes Electronic Stability Control, adaptive two-stage driver/passenger airbags, front side-impact bags, a- to c-pillar window airbags, active head restraints, crash optimized pedal system, child seat attachments.
| 2010 MERCEDES-BENZ GLK350 4MATIC |
| BASE PRICE: || $38,000 (MT est.) |
| VEHICLE LAYOUT: || Front engine, RWD or AWD 5-passenger, 5-door CUV |
| ENGINE: || 3.5L/268 hp/258 lb-ft. DOHC 24-valve V-6 |
| TRANSMISSION: || 7-speed automatic |
| WHEELBASE: || 108.5 inches |
| LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: || 178.3 x 72.4 x 66.9 in. |
| 0-60 MPH: || 6.5 seconds (mfg's est.) |
| EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON: || N/A (23 mpg hwy, mfg est.) |
| CO2 EMISSIONS: || N/A |
| TOWING: || 3500 pounds |
| ON SALE IN U.S.: || January 2009 |