2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class. Click image to enlarge

First Drive: 2009 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
Test Drive: 2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK 350

Manufacturer’s web site
Mercedes-Benz Canada

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Photo Gallery:
2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

La Clusaz, France – When Mercedes-Benz launched its butch little GLK 350 4Matic in 2009, it leapt to the top of the premium compact SUV sales chart in North America and has remained there ever since. While the GLK was neither the sportiest (nod went to the BMW X3) nor the most pleasing inside (Audi Q5, natch), this V6-powered ute won over buyers with a pleasing balance of comfort and ease of use, helped along by tough-guy/chic styling and purposeful 19-inch footwear.

And of course we can’t, er, discount Mercedes’ aggressive pricing strategy that had the GLK coming in at a few thousand less than its major competitors. For a couple of my friends who own GLK 350s, this tipped the Benz in their favour. The current 2012 GLK 350 4Matic starts at $43,800.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class. Click image to enlarge

As with all things automotive, the GLK gets its requisite mid-cycle refresh but here it goes further than mere cosmetics. Yes, the 2013 GLK sees a new snout with blingy LED running lights, a revised derriere with LED tail lamps and an all-new (and welcomed) dash/console, but the bigger news is found just aft of the grille.

The previous 3.5L V6 (268 hp/258 lb-ft) makes way for Mercedes’ new more efficient W276 direct-injection 3.5L V6 (302 hp/273 lb-ft) with standard start/stop function, and a diesel engine is now on the menu — good news for we of the Great White North who show a European appetite for compression engines.

Likely good news for Mercedes Canada as well, as the current diesel take rate on the larger ML and GL SUVs runs between 70 and 80 percent.

Dubbed the 250 BlueTec, this is a 2.1L twin-turbo four that makes 190 hp at 4200 rpm and a substantial 369 lb-ft of torque from 1600–1800 rpm. Like its bigger diesel V6 brethren, it uses the AdBlue system that injects urea into the exhaust stream to clean up those pesky NOx emissions. The GLK 250 also features standard start/stop function, and like the 350, it is mated to the 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed auto. All 2013 GLKs sold in Canada will have 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class
2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class. Click image to enlarge

Having just driven the GLK 250 BlueTec over some rather spectacular French Alpine roads and a stretch of Swiss motorway, I predict this diesel ute will be a big hit — assuming the financial “hit” for the engine won’t be too steep.

The 2013 GLK 350 arrives in the summer, but we have to wait until late 2012 for the 250 BlueTec. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale dates.

If you’re familiar with the effortless low-end torque of the modern turbodiesel engine, then you’ll know what I mean when I say the GLK 250 loafs along in the relaxed lower reaches of the tachometer, but offers a pleasing reserve of grunt with a brush of throttle. There is the typical diesel gruffness when accelerating briskly from a stop, but in all other aspects this ute is as quiet and refined as a graduate from a Swiss finishing school.

The big benefit of the 250, of course, is parsimonious fuel sippage. After a few hours of varied motoring that included mountain switchbacks, some in-town stop-and-go, and a stretch of motorway where we cruised between 120 and 140 km/h, the onboard computer showed 6.8 L/100 km. Ain’t diesel technology wonderful? For a luxurious, all-wheel-drive cute-ute that goes down the road as if the Hand of God was pushing on the hatch, this is impressive.

Connect with Autos.ca