First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz GLK 250 Bluetec Diesel mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz GLK 250 Bluetec Diesel mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz GLK 250 Bluetec Diesel mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 Bluetec Diesel. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

Toronto, Ontario – The new 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 Bluetec 4Matic has finally crossed the pond from its birthplace in Bremen, Germany.  Starting at $43,500, Canada’s first diesel-powered compact luxury SUV is now the most fuel-efficient vehicle in its class with ratings of 8.3 city/5.9 hwy/7.2 combined (L/100 km) (34/48/39 mpg Imperial).  Its combined 7.2 L/100 km is currently the best average fuel economy of any all-wheel-drive SUV on the market, including hybrid SUVs, according to Mercedes-Benz. Our initial estimates indicate that this is not just some marketing-inspired hype: during our day-long drive in a mix of city/suburban/highway driving in the Montreal/Kingston/Toronto triangle, we saw an average fuel economy reading of 7.3 L/100 km while one of our compatriots in another diesel GLK recorded 7.1 L/100 km.   Its thriftiest luxury competitors, according to Mercedes-Benz, are the BMW X1 xDrive28i and the Audi Q5 Hybrid, which average 7.7 L/100 km and 7.8 L/100 km, respectively.  In fact, the GLK 250 is even more fuel efficient than mainstream compact SUVs such as the Mazda CX-5 AWD and the Mini Countryman AWD both of which average 7.3 L/100 km.

The magic behind the GLK 250’s fuel economy numbers is its 2.1L twin-turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine.  With direct fuel injection and AdBlue urea fluid injection to reduce NOx emissions, the 2.1L diesel is efficient, clean and powerful – three words that haven’t always been associated with diesel engines. In fact, Mercedes-Benz claims their 2.1L oil burner is the most powerful four-cylinder diesel engine available in any SUV anywhere in the world.  It pumps out 200 hp at 3,800 rpm and more importantly, 369 lb-ft of torque from 1,600 to 1,800 rpm. That propels the surprisingly lively GLK 250 Bluetec from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.0 seconds, not bad for an SUV that weighs 1,925 kg (4,243 lb).  That’s about 1.5 seconds slower than the V6-powered GLK 350 which is now equipped with a more powerful 302-hp direct injection 3.5L V6 (up from 268-hp last year). However, the price for the V6’s extra performance is an additional 2.5 litres of fuel every 100 kilometres.  The GLK 350’s combined fuel consumption is rated at 9.7 L/100 km (29 mpg Imp.).

The GLK 250’s excellent fuel economy is more remarkable when you consider that it is not equipped with the engine stop/start feature that is standard in the GLK 350.  That feature saves gas by automatically turning off the engine while the GLK 350 is stopped in traffic.  There is no word on when, or if, the GLK 250 will be available with stop/start.

First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz GLK 250 Bluetec Diesel mercedes benz luxury cars first drives First Drive: 2013 Mercedes Benz GLK 250 Bluetec Diesel mercedes benz luxury cars first drives
2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK 250 Bluetec Diesel. Click image to enlarge

Like the GLK 350, the GLK 250 offers a standard seven-speed ‘7G-Tronic Plus’ automatic transmission that received significant upgrades for 2013.  It features less torque converter slip for quicker shifts and fewer vibrations thanks to a built-in damping mechanism.  This is especially important in the four-cylinder GLK 250 where engine vibrations are more pronounced than in the six-cylinder GLK 350.  In our test drive, we sensed very little mechanical vibration from the powertrain, and shifts were timely and smooth.  Even the mechanical clatter of the diesel compression engine was virtually silent at cruising speeds.  It’s only while accelerating or idling that some engine noise can be heard in the cabin, and while the GLK 250 is noisier than the GLK 350, it’s not enough to be bothersome.  If you open the windows or stand outside the GLK 250 when it’s running, the diesel clatter is quite distinct, but not nearly as loud as, say, a diesel pickup truck.

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