2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350
2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350. Click image to enlarge

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First Drive: 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

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2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

Surrey, British Columbia – The new GLK 350 is Mercedes’ first foray into the compact sport-utility market. Positioned and priced in the premium segment, the GLK offers substantial utility with a strong emphasis on sportiness. In fact, the GLK breaks new ground in its class with its street-smart cruiser styling lines, sports-car acceleration numbers and agile paved-road manners combined with surprisingly good off-road capability: the GLK will happily trudge through a field of mud up to its shapely door sills.

If you compare the GLK with a like-priced popular competitor, the Acura RDX, its external dimensions are similar, except for two measurements. The GLK has a significantly longer wheelbase and more ground clearance. The extra-long wheelbase makes possible excellent highway ride characteristics and the added under-carriage clearance comes in handy if you wander off the paved trail.

2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350
2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350. Click image to enlarge

Under the hood, the GLK has a 3.5-litre V6 engine that out-muscles the four-cylinder turbo in the RDX – it can propel the GLK to 100 km/hour in less than seven seconds. The GLK’s Energuide fuel consumption figures are 13.3/9.6 L/100 km (city/highway), not much more than the RDX’s 12.5/9.3 L/100 km (city/highway). The GLK’s longitudinally positioned engine, transmission and transfer case also offer advantages over a transversely positioned drive unit.

Mercedes’ fourth-generation 4Matic all-wheel-drive system normally apportions 45 per cent of the drive to the front wheels and 55 per cent to the rear. A number of overlapping electronic systems take care of stability and traction and a newly developed multi-disc clutch in the centre differential takes care of torque distribution between the front and rear axle. The GLK’s maximum tow rating is 1,588 kilograms (3500 lbs).

The Agility Control suspension in the GLK offers what’s called “amplitude-dependent damping.” During normal driving the system responds softly, but during more spirited driving the dampers adjust to a harder setting for optimum handling stability.

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