Beijing, China – The versatile SUV debuted at Auto China in Beijing on Sunday, April 20, and make it’s U.S. dealer showroom debut in January 2009 as a 2010 model.
Powered by a 268-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine the 2010MY GLK350 will form the basis of the U.S. lineup, and will be offered in both 4MATIC and two-wheel-drive versions, riding on standard 19-inch 10-spoke wheels with 235/50 tires. The GLK features a 108.5-inch wheelbase and boasts unique design language which sets it apart from the rest of the highly successful Mercedes-Benz family of SUVs that includes the M-Class (which spurred the trend toward more car-like SUVs), the larger GL-Class, the crossover R-Class and the iconic G-Class.
Showcasing bold exterior design, generous cargo capacity and available 4MATIC all-wheel-drive, the GLK350 combines the perfect balance of styling, versatility and performance. The 2010 GLK-Class will be produced exclusively at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen, Germany.
Aggressive Styling and a Unique Personality
With it’s poised, confident presence, the GLK-Class leaves no doubt about it’s intent to conquer the compact premium SUV segment. In sharp contrast to the relatively soft forms of other similar-sized vehicles, the striking, angular profile of the GLK sets it apart from the competition. From it’s steeply-raked windshield to the integrated rear spoiler on it’s tightly styled roof section, the bullish shape of the new GLK suggests power and agility, and echoes the G-Class — the iconic pioneer of the Mercedes-Benz SUV family.
Mercedes-Benz Design Chief Prof. Peter Pfeiffer adds: “With the G-Class we created a style icon that has been a benchmark in SUV design for the past 30 years. Combining this bold concept with the latest Mercedes-Benz design idiom makes the GLK a vehicle of genuine character.”
Beautiful proportions (length 178.3 inches, width 72.4 inches, height 66.9 inches) and styling combine classic angular shapes together with the distinctive design features found in contemporary Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. Taut lines and large, expansive surfaces mix with the traditional characteristics of a proper off-road vehicle, such as short overhangs, an upright front end, slim roof pillars, and a steeply raked windshield. Generous angles of approach and departure combined with impressive ground clearance allow the GLK to handle light off-roading with ease. On-road, the clear layout of the exterior and good all-around visibility, combined with a commanding seating position, enhance everyday practicality and relaxed driving, even in dense city traffic.
A Luxurious, Feature-Rich Interior
The GLK boasts a long list of standard equipment, including details not typically found in this vehicle class. Inside, a two-zone automatic climate control system, adjustable steering column, front seats with electrically adjustable height and backrest angle (including seat inclination adjustment) and manual lumbar support with two-way adjustment for the driver’s seat are all standard on the GLK. Standard integrated Bluetooth interface for mobile phones, a microphone for the hands-free system and a central 5-inch color display round out the list of interior appointments.
The 2010 GLK features all the impressive design and safety technology found in other Mercedes-Benz models, including standard front and side air bags as well as window air bags. Among it’s many comfort and convenience features is an available rear-seat entertainment system featuring two eight-inch screens, wireless headphones and an integrated dual-source DVD player.
The distinctive looks of the GLK exterior are seamlessly continued inside, with luxurious materials and precise detailing. The taught, sculpted lines of the dashboard dominate the interior, visually extending into the door panels to lend additional width to the generously dimensioned cockpit. Luxurious Sienna Pine wood with chrome trim highlights the dashboard and door panels at the front and rear, while the upper section of the encompasses the instrument cluster and the standard 5-inch color display. The driver’s armrest features integrated cupholders and the standard controller for the audio functions and the optional COMAND multimedia system are located in ergonomically ideal positions between the front seats. Control of the individual menus is intuitive, following the familiar and well-proven layout used in the current C-Class and S-Class models. Additional shortcut buttons provide direct access to the most important main functions. Front and rear headroom figures are 39.8 inches and 39.7 inches respectively, while the cargo area boasts 23.3 cubic feet of storage. Cargo capacity balloons to 54.7 cubic feet when the 1/3:2/3-split rear seats are folded forwards.
A Wealth of Optional Equipment for the GLK buyer
Contributing to the versatility of the new SUV, five option packages as well as nine stand-alone options are planned for the 2010 GLK350. The popular Premium 1 package offers GLK buyers a spacious Panorama Sunroof, SIRIUS satellite radio and a power liftgate. Customers seeking even more luxury can opt for the Premium 2 package, which adds Bi-Xenon headlamps with adaptive lighting and headlamp washing system, rain sensing windshield wipers, memory settings for the drivers seat, and much more. The Multimedia Package (which debuted on the new C-Class) adds COMAND with hard-drive Navigation as well as a rear-view back-up camera. Exterior options include an Appearance Package offering larger 20-inch 7-spoke wheels and Aluminum roof rails and, for the interior, an Upholstery Package adds interior lighting, a full leather interior and burl walnut trim.
Available 4MATIC All-Wheel-Drive System
The optional all-wheel-drive powertrain at the heart of the GLK350 4MATIC is one of the most capable systems on the market. The dynamic ESP®, ASR and 4ETS driving systems work in concert to ensure top-notch longitudinal and lateral control and superb handling stability both on and off-road. Thanks to a compact, longitudinally designed engine, transmission and transfer case arrangement, the system offers various advantages over it’s counterparts equipped with a transversely installed drive unit. Estimated 23 mpg highway fuel consumption is on a par with comparable rear-wheel vehicles, while vibration and noise levels rival those of luxury models.
The 45:55 torque distribution between the front and rear axle “ along with the ESP®, ASR and 4ETS dynamic handling control systems “ guarantees effortless and exceptional performance. Loss of traction on snow or ice is compensated for by the newly developed multi-disc clutch in the center differential, which provides a basic partial locking torque between the front and rear axle. This arrangement produces a significant increase in traction while maintaining directional stability.
Agility Control Suspension
The sophisticated Agility Control suspension on the new GLK-Class helps resolve a common paradox facing the SUV segment “ how to create a vehicle that combines agile on-road comfort with off-road capability. For sporty, responsive handling, the suspension and, above all, the shock absorbers need to provide a certain firmness however, this may compromise comfort and limit’s off-road performance. If the vehicle is setup with softer dampers, dynamic handling naturally suffers. Thanks to “amplitude-dependent damping” the suspension can adjust to perform in either driving conditions. During normal driving on moderately contoured roads or slow off-road manoeuvres, the system responds softly, enhancing both the occupants’ comfort and the vehicle’s off-road capability. During more spirited driving or when performing abrupt evasive maneuvers, the dampers adjust to a harder setting ensuring optimum handling stability. Additionally, speed-sensitive power steering supports the driver with a precise balance of high-speed road feel and low speed maneuverability. Maximum power assistance is available during parking and off-road driving, while at higher speeds, the assistance is reduced in favor of greater handling stability.
In addition to a tire pressure warning system, the tried-and-tested Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) for the GLK incorporates a vehicle/trailer stabilization function, which helps maintain control while towing a trailer by applying the individual wheel brakes as required. The GLK offers a maximum tow rating of 3,500 lbs.
Complete Safety Package for Maximum Occupant Protection
In combination with the front and rear deformation zones, the GLK’s high-strength passenger cell provides a highly efficient foundation for the occupant protection systems, which include:
Adaptive, two-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger
Front side-impact airbags
Windowbags across both seat rows from the A-pillar to the C-pillar
Active head restraints for the driver and front passenger
Crash-optimized pedal system
3-point seat belts for all five seats
Belt tensioner and adaptive belt-force limiter for the driver and front passenger, belt tensioner and single-stage belt-force limiter for the outer rear seats
ISOFIX child seat attachments
Belt height adjuster for the driver and front passenger
Belt status indicator for the rear passengers in the instrument cluster
Mercedes remains true to the philosophy that the best accidents are the ones that are avoided entirely. With this in mind, standard equipment for all GLK models includes Brake Assist (BAS), which shortens the braking distance significantly — especially during panic braking — to help prevent accidents or at the very least mitigate their consequences. The front section incorporates precisely defined crumple space between the body and the major assemblies beneath, allowing the hood to yield considerably if hit by a pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist. Together with the specially designed front bumpers and the softer foam of the integrated bumper impact absorbers, these measures afford pedestrians a high degree of protection.
Proven V6 Powerplant
The new sport utility is destined to be one of the most fuel-efficient Mercedes-Benz vehicles ever. Smaller and lighter than it’s well-known SUV siblings, the GLK features a fuel-sipping 3.5-liter V6 engine, a sophisticated seven-speed automatic transmission and available 4MATIC full-time four-wheel-drive. All of these components combine to give the GLK350 an impressive 0-60 time of just 6.5 seconds (estimated) while achieving an 23 mpg (estimated) on the highway.
Both the GLK350 and GLK350 4MATIC are matched with a seven-speed automatic transmission as standard. Low overall weight (estimated 4,036 lb. curb weight) and the exceptional aerodynamics for a vehicle of this design (cd figure 0.35) further contribute to the exceptional performance and low fuel consumption.
Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and
Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea.
Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive. She is a guest contributor for Via Corsa magazine and Vicarious magazine.