Since its introduction in 2008, the Mercedes-Benz GLK has occupied a crucial role in the company’s stable. It’s a maneuverable, spacious hauler that drives like a car but offers SUV-like cargo capacity at a very reasonable price for a Benz (it starts at $37,900). In its diesel spec, it’s efficient too, managing 33 miles per gallon on the highway while delivering a meaty 369 pound-foot lump of torque. But the GLK is beginning to show its age among the other vehicles in Mercedes’s lineup, and as a result, it just went under the knife.
Under Daimler’s new naming initiative for the marque, the GLK has been reborn as the GLC. It’s only the second generation of the crossover, but Mercedes used the opportunity to sort out all of its bumps and bruises to transform the GLK into an even more compelling offering in one of the hottest segments in the U.S. and abroad.
Though the previous generation had a butch, masculine, G-Class inspired look to it, the new one exchanges it’s sharp corners for the rounded bevels seen on the latest Mercedes models. The result is a cleaner, more elegant aesthetic that looks more in place on the Champs Elysees than, say, a hunting lodge owned by a family of oil executives. It grew, too — the redesign led to increases in almost every occupant-space related metric, aided by a stretching of the wheelbase by 118 millimeters.
While the outside changes were a given, the real news is what’s happening under the hood. According to Mercedes, “The diesel and petrol models boast significant reductions of up to [19%] in both fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in comparison to the previous generation, while at the same time improving performance with the same power output.”
Rumor has it that there may be higher-end models in the pipeline, akin to the C-Class sedan’s new C400 model (which uses a twin-turbo V6), or a full-blown, AMG-adorned tire roaster. Though Audi offers the SQ5 at 365 horsepower, and Porsche offers the Macan Turbo, the luxury crossover space is largely still infantile and ripe for Mercedes’s picking. BMW’s M-badged SUVs don’t start until the larger X5.
In keeping with the times, Mercedes didn’t shy away from the tech. There’s a new Eco mode for further fuel savings, a host of added safety equipment (collision prevention assist, Crosswind Assist, Active Highbeam Assist, and attention assist are all on board as standard, the company says), and a new segment-exclusive air suspension with adaptive, adjustable dampers as an option. In go-fast mode, the car can actually hunker down to become more slippery — but if you’re that concerned with aerodynamics, you probably shouldn’t be looking at SUVs.
Inside, it’s what you’d expect form the minds at Mercedes. It’s suave, swanky, and sensuously put together with some pretty top-notch materials, though they still haven’t found a solution for that weird looking floating screen over the center stack. But that aside, it’s a Benz where it counts — inside, where you’ll be spending all of your time if you buy one.
The base model — and first offered in the States — will use the a 2.0 liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine producing 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque (and likely be badged the GLC300). Prices haven’t been alluded to, and won’t be until closer to its launch later this year. Though it might swell some over the current GLK, chances are it’ll still remain below the $40,000 threshold.