Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the concept that isn’t really a concept. This is the Vision GLK Freedside study, or if you change the wheels and some trim details, the new GLK.
To be unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show in mid-January, the (ahem) concept previews Merc’s BMW X3 competitor. However, the GLK will only be a competitor to the X3 on the Continent because Merc’s new 4x4 won’t be coming to the UK. The GLK’s four-wheel drive system is left-hand drive only, and Mercedes doesn't see any economic benefit in making the conversion to right-hand drive.
It looks very, er, square…
Indeed. The boxy shape is supposed to remind potential buyers of Merc’s 1980s robustness, and the fact that nothing soldiered on like the Geländewagen. The GLK’s names alludes to that; the G refers to the mud plugging, the L to luxury, and the K apparently signals the car's compactness… Well, it’s shorter than a BMW X3, but it’s not exactly small at 4.52m long.
But to the luxury, and the GLK concept features Merc’s Command entertainment system, twin headrest-mounted screens, and three-zone air-con. There’s also (deep breath) matt, anthracite-coloured cebrano wood with white grain. That’s fancy wood trim to you and me, and it splits the upper and lower parts of the cabin, which are trimmed in black and white leather respectively.
Does it off-road?
Apparently, though all the GLK will probably ever do is mount a kerb. Nevertheless Merc insists the GLK will ‘perform exceptionally in all conditions’. Hence there’s a 45:55 front-rear split four-wheel drive system, and what Merc calsl a 'G' button that apparently 'increases the Vision GLK Freeside’s aggression'. What the button actually does is switch the electronics into off-road mode, and actual reduce the aggressiveness of the acceleration.
Any chance it's green?
Actually it’s not bad as they go. Powered by a new-generation 168bhp 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel engine mated to a seven-speed auto, the diesel engine also comes with Merc’s NOx reducing Bluetec technology. By squirting urea into the exhaust, NOx emissions are cut by up to 80 percent.
The GLK will be launched on the Continent in autumn 2008 at the equivalent of £32,000, and CAR Online will deliver the first drive to tell you whether you need to start petitioning your Merc dealer to import the car.