03 January 2008

Look sharp

Mercedes to unveil GLK, its BMW X3 rival, in Detroit

Mercedes GLK

Mercedes will unveil a baby brother to its M-Class SUV at the Detroit Motor Show in the shape of this, the GLK. 

Described as a compact luxury SUV, the GLK shares much of its underpinnings with the new C-Class, and will rival the BMW X3, Land Rover Freelander and the upcoming Audi Q3 when it goes on sale in Europe this autumn. 

Merc describes this model - called the Vision GLK Freeside - as a concept, but away from the 20-inch alloys and painted-on tyres, it's exactly as the production GLK will look.

And it looks, well, pointy. Taking the angular styling of the original G-Wagen and adding a whole bunch of extra creases, the GLK is a pretty shouty addition to the compact SUV market. 

The engine in the show car isn't so aggressive, however. The Freeside is powered by a 170bhp 2.2-litre turbodiesel with Mercedes' Bluetec emission control system, which reduces nitrogen oxide output. A seven-speed auto 'box puts the power through all four wheels, with a slight bias to the rear in on-road driving. 

If that all sounds a bit sedate, don't despair: V6s in both diesel and petrol flavour are expected to be available from launch, with an AMG version - featuring the mad 6.2-litre V8 from the C63 AMG - following in 2009. 

However, there's no word that the GLK will reach Britain at this stage. The positioning of the four-wheel-drive system means a conversion to right-hand drive could prove tricky, but we could see a rear-wheel-drive version to get round this problem. 

We'll have a look at the GLK sort-of-concept in Detroit in a couple of weeks' time.


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