Mercedes-Benz debuts GLK-Class at Auto China 2008
By Mike Hanlon
April 21, 2008
April 22, 2008 The keenly anticipated world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class at this year’s Auto China fair in Beijing, did not disappoint. The compact SUV reconciles attributes that were previously completely contradictory: by virtue of its Agility Control suspension, the aim being to offer outstanding performance and handling AND ride comfort. Working in conjunction with the onboard electronic control systems, the variable 4MATIC four-wheel drive ensures perfect on-road performance together with well-balanced off-road capabilities.
While the GLK-Class model is among the more road-oriented vehicles in the Mercedes-Benz SUV range, it certainly earns the "G" in its model designation. "The GLK rounds off our extremely successful SUV family, and transfers typical Mercedes attributes such as refinement, dynamism and safety into a compact format. This means that the bar in this market segment has now been raised considerably", said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Daimler AG.
TEXT FROM THE JUST RELEASED PRESS KIT BELOW (note - Mercedes' words, not ours)
Superior performance is assured by the range of powerful yet economical and environmentally compatible four and six-cylinder engines. As a BlueEFFICIENCY model, the GLK 220 CDI comes equipped with the new Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder diesel engine.
This entry-level unit develops 125 kW/170 hp, but consumes only 6.9 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres. The rock-solid foundations of the GLK-Class are equally convincing. The extremely robust bodyshell provides the basis for exemplary passive safety, superior noise and interior comfort with the feel-good atmosphere typical of a Mercedes, and high value retention. A very high standard of onboard features and attractive equipment packages likewise distinguish the GLK from the rest of the compact SUV field. Moreover, the very latest systems such as the trailblazing PRE SAFE safety concept or the Intelligent Light System (ILS) are available for the first time in this market segment.
Stuttgart/Beijing - Brimming with genuine character, the new GLK-Class is set to take the world of compact SUVs by storm. Yet it is not just the distinctive all-rounder's practical and appealingly compact body form that sets it apart from the competition. It also brings together what were previously seen as entirely contradictory attributes. The Agility Control suspension serves up a unique blend of outstanding handling dynamics, exceptional driving safety and superlative ride comfort.
Meanwhile the sophisticated, variable 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system joins forces with the latest electronic control systems to deliver consummate on-road performance and superb off-road suitability. It is precisely this kind of combination that lends the GLK-Class such immense appeal. The GLK-Class may be one of the more road-oriented Mercedes-Benz SUVs, but the "G" - alluding to the archetypal Mercedes off-roader - still has a rightful place in the model name.
Superlative performance comes courtesy of the powerful yet economical and eco-friendly four and six-cylinder engines. The BlueEFFICIENCY version of the GLK 220 CDI features the new entry-level four-cylinder diesel engine from Mercedes-Benz, which develops 125 kW/170 hp yet only consumes 6.9 litres of diesel per hundred kilometres. And the unshakeable foundations of the GLK-Class are similarly impressive.
The highly robust body is key to the pioneering passive-safety setup, the extremely low noise levels, the exceptional degree of interior comfort - to produce that typical Mercedes feeling of wellbeing - and the high value retention. Furthermore, exemplary appointments and attractive equipment packages make the GLK stand out from the compact-SUV masses. Plus state-of-the-art systems such as the leading-edge PRE-SAFE safety concept and the Intelligent Light System (ILS) are available in this market segment for the very first time.
With its poised, confident presence, the mere look of the GLK-Class leaves one in no doubt about its intent to conquer the compact premium SUV segment. It is arguably the most sophisticated of all takes on this particular theme. And it displays echoes of the G-Class, the founding father of the Mercedes-Benz SUV family. Design chief Prof. Peter Pfeiffer takes up the story: "With the G-Class we created a style icon that has been a benchmark in SUV design for the past 30 years. Combining this bold concept with the latest Mercedes-Benz design idiom makes the GLK a vehicle of genuine character."
No other model in the compact-SUV segment, past or present, comes close to matching the GLK's distinctively expressive appearance. The body is beautifully proportioned (length 4528 mm, width 1840 mm, height 1689 mm), while there is a special allure in the interplay between the classic angular shape and the typical design features found in all contemporary Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. Here the unmistakable design idiom, consisting of taut lines and large, expansive surfaces, is combined with the typical body features of a practical off-road vehicle, such as short overhangs, an upright front end, slim roof pillars, a steeply raked windscreen and taut roof lines.
Rather than being a stylistic end in itself, however, the body design allows the typical advantages of an off-road vehicle to be introduced to the more road-oriented compact-SUV category for the first time. Large angles of approach and departure plus good ground clearance make off-road ventures a sheer joy. The outstandingly clear layout of the body and good all-round visibility, combined with the raised seating position, enhance everyday practicality and ensure relaxed driving, even in dense city traffic.
Superlative ride comfort, outstanding handling dynamics and excellent off-road performance
The AGILITY CONTROL suspension on which the GLK-Class is founded displays a high level of flexibility and resolves a conflict of aims that particularly affects the SUV class, where chassis engineers want to create a vehicle that is both sportily agile and comfortably smooth yet one which can also cope with off-road terrain. If the focus is on sporty, active handling, the suspension and, above all, the shock absorbers need to display a certain firmness, which precludes access to the brand's typical suspension comfort and limits the off-road options. If the vehicle is set up with softer dampers to ensure suspension comfort and off-road capability, dynamic handling naturally suffers.
The solution is "amplitude-dependent damping". In this system, the damping forces of the shock absorbers are configured to respond flexibly rather than lineally. In normal driving mode on moderately contoured roads or during slow off-road manoeuvres, the system responds softly, enhancing both the occupants' comfort and the vehicle's off-road capability. To ensure that this level of comfort is maintained when driving hard or performing abrupt evasive manoeuvres, in these situations the dampers deliver a harder performance, ensuring optimum handling stability.
At the same time, the driver of the GLK is supported by speed-sensitive power steering, specified as standard for the V6 models, which provides the optimum level of steering assistance for the situation in hand. Parking and off-road manoeuvring are made much easier because maximum power assistance is available. At higher speeds, the assistance is reduced in favour of greater handling stability.
All the base models in the GLK series are fitted with 17-inch, size 235/60 R 17 light-alloy wheels. In conjunction with the exterior sports package, which is included as standard when the car first comes onto the market, or the off-road styling package, all models are shod with mixed-size tyres which, together with the AGILITY CONTROL suspension and the asymmetric power distribution between the front and rear axle, form the basis for a even better transfer of power between the wheels and the road.
And the more effective this power transfer, the less frequently the electronic control systems need to intervene. The road-oriented exterior sports package features size 7.5 J x 19 light-alloy wheels with 235/50 R 19 tyres at the front and size 8.5 J x 19 wheels with 255/45 R 19 tyres at the rear. If the GLK is ordered with the off-road styling package, the front axle has size 7.5 J x 17 light-alloy wheels with 235/60 R 17 tyres, while the rear axle features size 8.0 J x 17 wheels with 255/55 R 17 tyres. All models are equipped with a TIREFIT system for repairing tyre damage. A compact spare wheel, which can be used on the front or rear axle, is available as an optional extra.
4MATIC: high-performance all-wheel-drive system with sophisticated control systems
The 4MATIC powertrain at the heart of the GLK-Class is one of the most capable all-wheel-drive systems on the market. The driving dynamics systems ESP®, ASR and 4ETS are superbly harmonised with each other; when they go into action their quality of control is so good that top-notch longitudinal and lateral dynamism coupled with superb handling stability are ensured under all conditions, both on and off-road. Thanks to the compact, lightweight and friction-optimised concept, with a longitudinally installed engine and block-design main transmission and transfer case, the system offers various advantages over its counterparts equipped with a transversely installed drive unit. Fuel consumption, for example, is about on a par with that of a comparable conventionally powered vehicle, while the minimal vibration and noise levels rival those of today's luxury-class models.
The 45:55 percent basic distribution of the drive torque between the front and rear axle – along with the ESP®, ASR and 4ETS dynamic handling control systems – ensures effortless and predictable performance in all conditions. Optimum traction, maximum driving stability and superlative handling are assured at all times. When tuning the control systems, the engineers at the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center (MTC) made neutral self-steering behaviour a top priority. Only when the physical limits of driving are neared is there a slight oversteer tendency. All GLK models display these characteristics, even if road conditions vary widely. Whether it be dry or wet. On snow, ice or unsurfaced roads.
If drivers never know whether to expect understeer or oversteer, they become unsure. This problem - a frequent occurrence in the SUV category - is solved once and for all by the GLK-Class. The newly developed multi-disc clutch in the centre differential supports the system if the friction between the tyres and the road surface is particularly low, for example on snow or ice. A basic partial locking torque of 50 newton metres between the front and rear axle produces a significant increase in traction whilst the high level of directional stability is maintained.
The "G" button on the centre console makes the GLK with off-road engineering package even more assertive on rough terrain. Pressing the button activates a special driving program which varies the shift points of the 7G-TRONIC transmission, "softens" the accelerator pedal characteristics and activates the ESP® off-road function. In this mode the system is designed to operate with a higher degree of wheel slip while retaining directional stability. This control strategy improves traction off-road, particularly on low-friction surfaces such as sand, gravel or stone chippings.
There is also a manual transmission mode, in which the shift paddles on the steering wheel can be used to change between the gears. A further switch activates the Downhill Speed Regulation (DSR) system, which automatically maintains a pre-programmed speed on steep downhill inclines. The off-road-specific body dimensions are equally impressive. The large ground clearance of 201 millimetres (GLK 280 4MATIC) and the short body overhangs (front 816 mm, rear 957 mm) make for favourable angles of approach and departure - 23 degrees and a maximum of 25 degrees, respectively. Meanwhile the relatively short wheelbase length of 2755 millimetres and the vehicle weight of 1830 kilograms, which is remarkably low for an SUV, allow the GLK to make good headway on even the most topographically demanding of terrain.
As well as a tyre pressure loss warning system, the tried-and-tested Electronic Stability Program (ESP®) for the GLK incorporates a vehicle/trailer stabilisation function, which defuses critical driving situations involving a trailer before they become dangerous by applying the individual wheel brakes as and when required. The towing capacity is 2000 kilograms.
State-of-the-art powerplants ensure an exceptionally high level of ride comfort and impressive performance right across the GLK range. Plus fuel-consumption figures are low, as is the emission count. Customers have a choice of four model variants: diesel aficionados can opt for the GLK 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY or GLK 320 CDI, while those with a preference for petrol can select the GLK 280 or GLK 350, both of which feature a V6 powerplant.
In the GLK 220 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, the all-new diesel engine generation posts an excellent set of figures. Like the V6 unit in the GLK 320 CDI, the four-cylinder engine with a displacement of 2.2 litres and an output of 125 kW/170 hp reflects the dynamism of the GLK concept as a whole and produces impressive performance coupled with lower fuel consumption and reduced emissions. Torque is equally impressive, with some 400 newton metres available across a broad engine speed range of 1400 to 2800 rpm. Technical highlights of the exceptionally compact and smooth-running CDI powerplant with rear camshaft drive include fourth-generation common-rail direct injection with an injection pressure of 2000 bar and a two-stage turbocharger system. The state-of-the-art powerplant propels the GLK from 0 to 100 km/h in just 8.8 seconds and on to a top speed of 205 km/h.
The compression-ignition engine with extremely low untreated emissions delivers exceptional environmental performance and, like all diesel engines for Mercedes passenger cars, features exhaust gas recirculation, an oxidising catalytic converter and a maintenance-free diesel particulate filter as standard. In addition, the engine developers have succeeded in reducing untreated emissions by a decisive margin. The smooth-running four-cylinder unit consumes a mere 6.9 litres of diesel per hundred kilometres, emits just 183 grams of CO2 per kilometre and already meets the requirements of the EU5 emission standard. The diesel line-up is augmented by the proven V6 powerplant in the GLK 320 CDI, which develops 165 kW/224 hp and achieves a peak torque of 540 newton metres, enabling the GLK to perform even more admirably: here the top speed is 220 km/h whilst acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes just 7.5 seconds. The V6 engine also features exhaust gas recirculation, an oxidising catalytic converter and a maintenance-free diesel particulate filter. Diesel consumption is a mere 7.9 litres per hundred kilometres. Plus the engine complies with the Euro 4 standard.
The two smooth-running V6 petrol models - the GLK 280 and the GLK 350 - develop 170 kW/231 hp and 200 KW/272 hp respectively, all of which makes for rapid performance. Yet fuel consumption is only moderate. The 3.5-litre V6 in the GLK 350 4MATIC stands out in particular, achieving figures similar to those of a sports car. It has a top speed of 230 km/h and races from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.7 seconds. Both engines also comply with the Euro 5 standard, consuming 10.2 litres and 10.4 litres per hundred kilometres respectively.
All of the engine variants for the GLK are matched with the 7G-TRONIC 7-speed automatic transmission as standard. But the exceptional performance and low fuel consumption are not just down to the perfect combination of the highly sophisticated engines with the 7G-TRONIC and the friction-optimised powertrain. Further key factors include the relatively low overall weight (GLK 280: 1830 kg) and the exceptional aerodynamics for a vehicle of this design (cd figure 0.35). Complete safety package for maximum occupant protection In combination with the front and rear deformation zones, the GLK's high-strength passenger cell provides a highly efficient foundation for the occupant protection systems. These include:
* Adaptive, two-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger * Kneebag for the driver * Front sidebags and, as an option, sidebags for the rear seats * Windowbags across both seat rows from the A-pillar to the C-pillar * NECK-PRO crash-responsive head restraints for the driver and front passenger * Crash-optimised pedal system * 3-point seat belts for all five seats * Belt tensioner and adaptive belt-force limiter for the driver and front passenger, belt tensioner and single-stage belt-force limiter for the outer rear seats * ISOFIX child seat attachments * Belt height adjuster for the driver and front passenger * Belt status indicator for the rear passengers in the instrument cluster
The optionally available PRE-SAFE anticipatory occupant protection system, made available in the compact-SUV market segment for the very first time, sees Mercedes-Benz taking safety to a new, high level in this segment. The highlight of the concept is the networking between the active and passive safety systems. PRE-SAFE uses the sensors of the dynamic handling control systems - for example, Brake Assist (BAS) and ESP - and optimises the protective functions of the passive safety components in potential accident situations. The standard-fit adaptive brake lights, which flash to warn the traffic behind when the brakes are applied abruptly, help to prevent accidents.
The GLK-Class also heralds further improvements in pedestrian protection. On the one hand, Mercedes remains true to the philosophy that the best accidents are the ones that do not happen at all. This is why standard equipment for all GLK models includes Brake Assist (BAS), which shortens the braking distance significantly, especially during panic braking, so as to help prevent accidents or at the very least mitigate their consequences. In addition, the front section incorporates precisely defined crumple space between the body and the major assemblies beneath, allowing the bonnet to yield considerably if hit by a pedestrian, cyclist or motorcyclist. Together with the specially designed front bumpers and the softer foam of the integrated bumper impact absorbers, these measures afford pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists an extremely high degree of protection.
Relaxed travel in classic Mercedes style
The distinctive looks of the body are seamlessly continued inside the GLK-Class. On the one hand, the contemporary treatment of the surfaces brings the latest in Mercedes design to the interior. On the other hand, the GLK offers a high-quality and comfortable interior with impressive materials and precise detailing. Occupants enjoy a profound sense of wellbeing when on board - a hallmark of all Mercedes vehicles. The dashboard is the dominant feature here, visually extending into the door panels to lend additional width to the generously dimensioned interior.
Further eye-catching features include an elegant trim level highlighted by a fabric that matches the seat upholstery, specified as standard. Alternatively, GLK customers can opt for various wood or aluminium highlights here and in the door operating panels at the front and rear. The upper section of the dashboard encompasses the instrument cluster and the static central display. Meanwhile the driver's armrest with an integral stowage compartment and the controller for the optional COMAND APS infotainment system are located in ergonomically ideal positions between the front seats. Control of the individual menus is intuitive, following the familiar and well-proven control logic used in the S-Class. Additional shortcut buttons make it easier to access the most important main functions.
In terms of spaciousness, the GLK matches vehicles that are much bigger on the outside. The interior architects at the MTC have succeeded in achieving seating-comfort dimensions on a par with those of the much larger M-Class – for example the distance between the heel reference point and the seat reference point in the GLK-Class is 318 mm (front) and 346 mm (rear). Front and rear headroom are also comparable at 1010 mm and 1012 mm respectively. The boot, including an additional compartment beneath the load compartment floor, holds at least 450 litres. When the 1/3:2/3-split rear seats are folded forwards, the boot capacity increases to max. 1550 litres, the load compartment length to 1674 mm.
Complete range of standard equipment, complementary equipment packages
The level of equipment available for the GLK-Class is at premium-segment standard, including details normally only to be found in the higher vehicle categories. Standard-fit comfort-enhancing features include the THERMATIC 2-zone automatic climate control system, a steering column adjustable for height and reach, front seats with electrically adjustable height and backrest angle, including seat inclination adjustment, manual lumbar support with 2-way adjustment for the driver's seat and the Audio 20 sound system, including a radio/CD combination with integral Bluetooth interface for mobile phones, a microphone for the hands-free system and a central 5-inch colour display. Further features include power windows all round and cruise control with SPEEDTRONIC.
The GLK-Class model range is equipped to an exceptionally high standard. There are also two equipment packages to choose from, allowing customers to tailor the GLK to their own requirements. Among other things, the exterior sports package consists of 19-inch 7-spoke light-alloy wheels, stiffer sports suspension lowered by 20 millimetres and a chrome package with roof rails in aluminium. Alternatively, customers can select the off-road styling package, featuring 17-inch light-alloy wheels, robust off-road pads and simulated underguards on the front and rear apron as well as the chrome package as standard. The only difference is that this version has matt black roof rails, in keeping with the off-road look.
The off-road engineering package - with DSR switch, a "G" switch for activating a special off-road program and a heavy-duty, weight-optimised underguard and underbody protection in Gemtex - is also available as an optional extra. If the COMAND APS system is specified, the navigation system has a useful extra feature designed specifically for off-road vehicles. If the vehicle enters an area not covered by digitised maps, the driver can activate a tracking system to record and save the vehicle's route. This means that GLK drivers can always find a way back to their starting point, based on the principle of Ariadne's thread.
Customers can also opt for the THERMOTRONIC 3-zone luxury automatic climate control system (for the first time in this market segment), genuine leather appointments, fine wood trim elements or the rear-seat entertainment system with 2 screens, radio remote control, 2 sets of radio headphones per screen and an Aux-In socket for multimedia devices such as games consoles. LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control makes the COMAND APS system even easier to use, while the fully electrical, 10-way seat adjustment feature with memory package simplifies the process for setting preferred seating positions. Items that can be ordered for all models include 20-inch light-alloy wheels and the electrically operated panoramic glass sliding sunroof. Further options that come highly recommended include the Intelligent Light System (ILS), featuring five light functions (cornering light function, country mode, motorway mode, active light function and enhanced fog lamps), which are activated in specific driving situations and weather conditions, or the EASY-PACK tailgate, which can be operated at the push of a button.
Mercedes-Benz GLK Edition 1: attractive model to celebrate sales launch
The exclusive "Edition 1" model will be produced to mark the sales launch of the GLK-Class. This particular variant, sure to be the subject of great demand, is based on the exterior design of the models with exterior sports package but also features 20-inch wheels, the electrically operated EASY-PACK tailgate and specially coloured privacy glass in the rear compartment. The interior is based on the interior sports package and has been upgraded to include further quality details such as black/white nappa leather seats from the designo range, an AMG multifunction leather steering wheel, a black roof lining, exclusive aluminium trim elements and the COMAND APS system. All of these exclusive GLK models are available in calcite white as standard, although customers can specify any other paint finish. Engine-wise, the GLK Edition 1 can be combined with any of the V6 units.
Mercedes offers the widest range of SUVs
Mercedes-Benz offers the widest range of SUVs in the premium segment, the GLK being the brand's fifth model series in this internationally growth-oriented market. In response to customers' wishes, the company initially extended its model range sideways and upwards by introducing the R-Class, M-Class, GL-Class and G‑Class. The GLK, a compact SUV, is the latest addition to this successful family.
The R-Class is the model series with the most variants, all of which impress with an outstanding level of long-distance comfort and the most generous and variable interiors of all the Mercedes SUVs, including up to seven seats. The most successful Mercedes-Benz Sports Utility Vehicle, with around 950,000 vehicles sold to date, is the M-Class, offering an exciting and highly effective balance between on-road performance and off-road ability. This model series, which celebrated its high-profile premiere some ten years ago, is seen as the precursor to all today's premium SUVs. The GL-Class in turn has occupied pole position in the SUV world since 2006, its occupants travelling first-class whatever the conditions, whether on or off the road. The G-Class, which effectively started it all, is celebrating 30 years of service this coming year. The "G" really comes into its own when venturing off the beaten track and still ranks as one of the world's best off-roaders.
Bremen plant produces the GLK-Class on an exclusive basis
The GLK is produced solely at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen. The site, taken over from Hanomag-Henschel in 1969, was a production plant used by the carmaker Borgward up until 1961 and is a major cog in Daimler's world-wide production network.
As the home plant for the C-Class Saloon and C-Class Estate, it sets the quality standards for all plants that handle these model series world-wide. European customers can order the compact model with genuine character from June 30, 2008, with deliveries set to commence in the autumn. The prices for the German market, not including local VAT, are as follows:
GLK 220 CDI 4MATIC BlueEFFICIENCY: € 33,900 GLK 320 CDI 4MATIC: € 38,700 GLK 280 4MATIC: € 36,600 GLK 350 4MATIC: € 38,700Share
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