Mercedes is readying a baby crossover dubbed BLK for launch in 2011. It's a small SUV destined to join the swelling ranks of junior premium 4x4s; the BLK will be aimed fair and square at the likes of the BMW X1
and Audi Q3.
And the new BLK – as its name suggests – will be spun from the next-generation A- and B-class family. Think of today's B donning its wellies and a Barbour, and you're not far from the mark depicted by our computer artists. Insiders talk of a smaller version of the chunky GLK
.The new B-class: hatchbacks, mini-MPVs and a baby SUV
Merc wants to expand its range of small cars, so the replacements will be available in at least three bodystyles: a three-door and five-door hatch, and this BLK baby SUV have all been confirmed to CAR. Beyond that, there could even be a B-class coupe (think a shrunken CLS
It's not clear yet what will underpin the new family. Mercedes has been evaluating three different options that include a reworked version of the package beneath today's models and a new alliance with a third party.
The BLK is likely to be available in two different trims, dubbed internally Street (for the majority of urbanites) and Nature (a toughed-up mud-plugging spec).
So Mercedes' new BLK off-roader will be 4wd, right?
You'd expect so, wouldn't you? But even that's not certain in these carbon-obsessed times. Mercedes sources claim that four-wheel drive will add 100kg to the kerbweight – and the engineers are struggling to contain the bulk of the range-topping 2.2-litre diesel which comes in at 1600kg in five-door form. Blame climate control, 18in wheels, dual-clutch transmission and AWD – ballooning the weight into VW Tiguan
However, the lightest B will be the front-wheel drive three-door on skinny 15-inchers and without air-con, which weighs in at a somewhat slimmer 1340kg. Hence Mercedes' concerns over equipping the BLK with 4wd...What about the engines for the BLK?
At this stage, Mercedes is planning a wide range of familiar, C-class
derived direct-injection powerplants for the BLK:•
BLK 180 1.8-litre, 136bhp, 140lb ft•
BLK 200 2.0-litre, 177bhp, 214lb ft•
BLK 220 2.0-litre, 224bhp, 258lb ft•
BLK 180 CDI, 136bhp, 200lb ft•
BLK 200 CDI, 170bhp, 295lb ft•
BLK 220 CDI, 204bhp, 355lb ft
There will also be a mild hybrid and Mercedes is talking of a new eight- and nine
-speed dual-clutch automated manuals. The ratio race continues!>> Too many SUVs already? Or does the world need the BLK? Click 'Add your comment' and let us know