Strengths and weaknesses:
- diesel option
- fuel economy
- fit and finish
- unique style
- overly assisted steering
- lack of off-road option package.
Small GLK has Mercedes refinement
"The GLK has made its own reputation both as an urban and an off-road vehicle."
LA CLUSAZ, France – The Mercedes-Benz GLK is a small (to a certain degree) utilitarian vehicle. Its dimensions are not as imposing as those of its big brothers - the GL and the G Class. The GLK has inherited of a more urban reputation, thanks to the “Sex and the City” film that marked its first appearance.
Ever since, and aficionados finally understood that, the GLK has made its own reputation both as an urban and an off-road vehicle, though Canadians have always been (and will still be) deprived of the off-road option package.
The new generation GLK has undergone slight aesthetic modifications and mechanical improvements, but remains true to its personality.
For a utilitarian vehicle that came to be thanks to the glamorous world of fashion, the GLK has nothing sexy except for looks. And that is considering that one devotedly appreciates its square, box-like silhouette like I do. If so, the GLK will make you smile.
If you were hoping for a major redesign, the 2013 will disappoint you. The box-like shape of the vehicle has remained, though some angles have been softened, which draws it closer to the GL and away from the square-ish G.
Physically speaking, the differences are very subtle. The front grille and the redesigned head lamps are the most noticeable modifications. Add the now essential LED day-lights and you get a rough idea of what the family’s baby looks like.
In the cabin, the dashboard gets a more modern treatment, inspired, amongst others, by the SL with a similar set of air vents. The dials are also easier to read and the gear-shifter has jumped free of the centre console, having found its place on the steering column. Bottom line, the interior is as refined as ever in terms of materials and assembly but now also includes improved ergonomics.
The real source of change on the GLK, though, can be found under the hood. The good news is that Canadians will now be able to get the GLK250, equipped with a turbodiesel engine (though it will be made available only in the fall of 2012). The long awaited GLK, expected to be the most popular of the family, has proven to have supple acceleration, dynamic resurgence and respectable fuel economy; despite the aggressive ascents and descents in the French Alps, we manage to keep average fuel consumption under 8 litres per 100 km.
The other version, the GLK 350, comes equipped with a reviewed and renewed V6 engine now pushing 302 hp. Its greatest quality, though, lies in the 273 lb.-ft. of torque, which is a great improvement that makes a difference in the driving.
Important and interesting notice, all Canadian models come equipped with the 4Matic all-wheel drive system. I have the chance to test its off-road capacities (with the European off-road options) and I can confirm the GLK proves itself highly capable, even where I myself hesitated to go.
Obviously, we are not talking about major obstacles, but on heavily bumpy and seemingly impassable roads, the GLK shows no hesitation.
Another damper is the electromechanical power steering that tames the driving. Nothing major, though it contributes in giving the GLK a more urban image.
The Mercedes-Benz GLK has proven itself to be a practical and versatile utilitarian. But it has never shown any signs of true aggressiveness and this version doesn’t differ.
Despite it all, it remains a very capable and pleasant vehicle that navigates the alpine roads with ease. Leaving me convinced that Canadian roads will be no challenge.