The redesigned Mercedes-Benzes GLK seemed to hit all the right buttons, as sales of this small luxury crossover are way up. It appears that a lot of well-heeled folks are looking for crossovers with rugged looks without having to compromise on creature comforts. Rugged outside, sensitive inside; sounds like the ideal traveling partner. And now we can add a turbo-diesel engine to that winning ticket.
In our most recent test of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK, we found its trifecta of more features, more power, and better fuel economy to be a winning ticket. But, there’s always room for improvement, and we hoped to find just that in the BlueTEC version of Benz’s smallest ute.
Though it won’t be the smallest for long as Mercedes has announced an even smaller GLA will be on the way next year. But, we digress. Fitting a diesel to a utility is nothing new for Mercedes of course, but up until this point, here in the U.S. they’ve been found in their bigger buck utes. So it’s nice to see the trickledown theory work in our favor for a change.
The diesel that powers the GLK is not the 3.0-liter V6 that powers the GL and M-Class. Rather, it’s a new 2.1-liter turbocharged I4 diesel, complete with dual overhead cams, variable valve timing, and two balance shafts to quell vibration. It delivers 200-horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque in an extremely refined manner.
Inside, you’ll find the same mix of modern features with retro style that we found very appealing in the ’13 GLK. The Comand central controller activates functions on the center stack’s deeply-hooded 7-inch navigation screen, which includes an available web browser and detailed weather information.
Leather seating is optional, but we found the standard MB-Tex material quite suitable. Cushions are firm, more in the all-day comfortable vein rather than just pillowy soft. Back seats are also quite comfortable, but even with reliefs cut in the front seatbacks; leg room is tight for adults. Cargo space is adequate, but trails most in the segment, with the rear cargo area holding just 23.3 cubic-ft. of goods, expanding to 54.7 when the seatbacks are folded. Those seat backs are heavy, but they fold easily and completely flat. A rear power rear lift-gate comes with the Premium Package, which also adds a panorama sunroof and more.
As for the rugged exterior look of the GLK, its squared-off ends and tight lines are certainly retro G-wagon inspired, but a steeply raked windshield and the angular nose are fully in the modern world. Wheelbase is 108.5-inches and overall length comes in about 11-inches shorter than the M-Class. Opt for the Sport Appearance package and 19-inch alloy wheels and brushed aluminum roof rails spice up the ride.
Behind the steering wheel, the GLK feels very solid and easy to drive. The small size makes it a breeze to navigate through traffic and the addition of the diesel engine makes highway merging and overtaking about a simple as it gets.
But improved Government Fuel Economy Ratings are the true measure of a diesel, and this BlueTEC does not disappoint, averaging 24–City, 33-Highway, and 28–Combined. We had no problem averaging close to the highway number, at 32.9 in mixed driving. The Energy Impact Score comes in at 13.6-barrels of annual oil use with CO2 emissions coming in at 6.1–tons.
We found the GLK to be a ton of fun at our test track, as well. Off the line, it wasted little time in putting down the power and took us to 60 in 7.4–seconds. Shifts come early and often from the standard 7-speed automatic, as the GLK smoothly shifts its way to the end of the quarter mile in 15.7–seconds at 86 miles-per-hour.
Attacking our cone course with equal urgency, the GLK proved to be capable enough, but smoothness is required as any harsh inputs on the wheel will result in stability control kicking in fairly aggressively. 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive has a slight rear bias and comes standard on all BlueTECs.
Usually when you talk diesels, there’s a significant price premium to be discussed, well not so in this case, as the BlueTEC comes in $500 cheaper than a GLK350 4MATIC V6, starting at just $39,495. Bargain hunters can get a base two-wheel-drive GLK350 for $37,995.
The 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK is indeed on a roll, and with the addition of the BlueTEC diesel engine, clearly that winning streak will continue. Rugged style, premium interior, and now even better fuel economy; it looks like that winning ticket just came with a bonus jackpot.
Engine: 2.1-liter turbocharged I4
Torque: 369 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 7.4 seconds
1/4 mile: 15.7 seconds @ 86 mph
EPA: 24 mpg city/ 33 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 13.6-barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 6.1 tons/yr