The Mercedes M-Class has got a baby brother! These are the first official pictures of the GLK, which was revealed at this week's Beijing Motor Show in China. The firm's first compact 4x4 was initially seen as the Freeride concept at the Detroit expo in January. ( AE )
It's based on the platform of the C-Class compact executive car, and is designed to take on the Audi Q5 (see Page 8), plus the BMW X3 and Land Rover Freelander. The GLK is shorter, narrower and taller than the X3, and it's slightly heavier - although it's not lacking in performance.
The entry-level diesel powerplant is a new 2.1-litre four-cylinder common-rail unit, delivering 170bhp. This propels the GLK from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 127mph, yet returns 40.9mpg and emits 183g/km of CO2.
Topping the diesel line-up is a 224bhp 3.0-litre V6, while petrol options include 3.0-litre and 3.5-litre V6s offering 231bhp and 272bhp respectively. Later on, there could possibly be a V8-powered GLK63 AMG, and even a hybrid.
Buyers can specify a sports pack aimed at on-road driving. This brings 19-inch wheels, stiffer springs and a 20mm lower ride height. There's also a mud-plugging option, comprising 17-inch alloys, more ground clearance and extra body cladding. All cars get 4Matic all-wheel-drive and a 7G-Tronic Touch-Shift automatic transmission.
Sales of the GLK will start in Europe in October, but don't expect to see the car in the UK soon. According to sources, the 4WD system complicates right-hand-drive production - so the GLK is unlikely to reach our shores until 2010 at the earliest.