We got our first taste of the refreshed 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK lineup last summer, once again affirming our belief that it’s easy to fall in love with the littlest Benz CUV. There’s something sort of charming about the boxy, rugged-looking luxury crossover, and while it won’t set the world on fire in terms of driver engagement, it’s a solid front-runner in the segment.
In addition to the GLK350 – in both rear- and all-wheel-drive forms – Mercedes-Benz has now launched this GLK250 BlueTEC model, packed with a brand new 2.1-liter four-cylinder diesel engine and offered exclusively with the automaker’s 4Matic all-wheel drive. With improved fuel economy and torque-tastic diesel characteristics, this oil-burning GLK could easily be the star child of the company’s small CUV lineup. We hit the roads northwest of Ann Arbor, MI to find out.
Driving Notes Mercedes’ new 2.1-liter turbo-diesel engine is good for a healthy 200 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. This is the first application of Merc’s new four-pot diesel here in the US, but we’ll soon be seeing it in the E-Class later this year. Compared to the GLK350, the diesel engine has 102 less horsepower but 96 more foot-pounds of twist. What’s more, the torque thrust is delivered at just 1,600 rpm in the BlueTEC, compared to 3,500 rpm in the GLK350. That said, the GLK250 is significantly slower off the line than its naturally aspirated counterpart.
Hitting 60 miles per hour in the BlueTEC takes 7.9 seconds, compared to only 6.4 seconds in the GLK350. Of course, the diesel model is slightly heavier than its petrol-drinking kin – 4,321 pounds here versus the 4,079 of a 4Matic-equipped GLK350. Where you really win, though, is fuel economy. Mercedes-Benz rates the GLK350 4Matic at 19/24 miles per gallon (city/highway), but the BlueTEC increases those numbers to 24/33. That bests all other competitors in the class, for now. (Remember, there’s an Audi Q5 TDI on the horizon…) On the road, the 2.1-liter diesel is perfectly matched with the more relaxed dynamics of the GLK.
Even with the more powerful 3.5-liter V6, this CUV isn’t one to be hustled, but we rather like the refined characteristics of the Merc from behind the wheel. There is a very small amount of turbo lag at takeoff, but once you hit the meat of the torque band, you’ll never be at a loss for power. The seven-speed automatic transmission is a smooth operator, and has a sport mode that’s more eager to fire off downshifts for spirited driving. Steering feel is generally good, but doesn’t offer as much feedback as a BMW X3.
That said, the suspension is extremely well-sorted for a small luxury CUV application, providing just the right amount of feedback without ever being too abrasive, even on these large 19-inch wheels wrapped in 235/50R19 Continental 4×4 Contact tires.
- 3.5L V-6 Engine
- 7-spd w/OD Transmission
- 302 @ 6,500 rpm Horsepower
- 273 @ 3,500 rpm Torque
- rear-wheel Drive type
- ABS and driveline Traction control
- 19″ silver aluminum Wheels
- front air conditioning, dual zone THERMATIC automatic
- AM/FM/Satellite-prep, seek-scan Radio
- 1st row LCD monitor
- keyfob (all doors) Remote keyless entry
- front and rear Fog/driving lights
- Heated mirrors
- leatherette Seat trim
- driver Lumbar support