2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4Matic
2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4Matic. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

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2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK

Oshawa, Ontario – Originally conceived as a full-size vehicle for work, the SUV has gradually downsized, with compact versions proving popular with urban dwellers who like their seating position and cargo capacity, but want a smaller footprint. Automakers have answered the call, and at Mercedes-Benz, it’s the GLK350 4Matic.

This new model surprised me on two levels. First, while it isn’t inexpensive, its starting price of $42,900 was less than I expected, given its features and luxury interior. And secondly, while the bulkier ML- and GL-Class tend to leave me cold, I really warned up to the GLK: I could see having one of these as my own vehicle.

2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4Matic
2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4Matic. Click image to enlarge

Under its trucklet skin, the GLK is actually more of a car: it’s based on the C-Class sedan’s platform. It uses a 3.5-litre V6 engine, producing 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, that’s mated strictly to a seven-speed automatic transmission. It comes only with 4Matic all-wheel drive, which splits torque 45/55; an electronic traction system monitors slippage and brakes individual wheels when necessary to keep everything on the straight and narrow. The engine is buttery-smooth and never feels overtaxed, and the transmission moves gracefully between its seven cogs, often so well that you’re not aware it has shifted. Likewise, the all-wheel system is transparent, and the GLK definitely doesn’t feel like a four-wheel. On wet roads, it simply felt surefooted. The official fuel figures are 13.3 L/100 km in the city, and 9.6 on the highway, while in combined driving, I averaged 12.8 L/100 km (22 mpg Imp). The required fuel is premium grade.

2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4Matic
2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4Matic
2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 4Matic. Click image to enlarge

In keeping with its underpinnings, driving the GLK is a car-like experience. Mercedes-Benz calls the suspension system “Agility Control,” its name for selective damping; a button on the centre console switches between “Sport” and “Comfort” modes. The vehicle is very quiet, with a sharp turning radius, and a smooth and uneventful trip over broken pavement. Brake feel is confident, with the pedal biting early in its travel. I do have a complaint with the mirrors, though, which I found too small to be really useful.

The GLK’s exterior appearance can be polarizing, as I discovered on an unscientific poll of auto-minded friends: some liked its angular lines and distinctive wedge shape, while others thought the creases were too sharp, especially the top body line of the cove on the doors. My ride’s 19-inch wheels are standard equipment, but a Sport Package can be added, which swaps them out for 20-inchers, along with aluminum roof rails in place of my tester’s black ones. Base colours are plain black, white or red; my Iridium Silver Metallic coat, one of nine optional metallic shades, was a hefty $890 extra.

The interior is up to the usual standards expected of a Mercedes, and while I found the exterior’s strong angles a bit overpowering in places, those same straight lines work very effectively on the inside, especially on my tester’s stock high-gloss walnut wood trim (aluminum or a matte brown pine finish are optional). The theme is carried through on the instrument pad, and onto the door handles and pockets.

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