2008 Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK Freeside Concept

David Gluckman
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Thankfully, there are no upcoming Jurassic Park sequels that can be used to launch this Mercedes SUV, as was the case with the original M-class. No, the GLK will be shown first in lightly veiled concept form in Detroit this year, with an on-sale date of January 2009 for the production version.

The concept is powered by a 2.2-liter turbocharged diesel engine making 168 hp. It uses the Bluetec system, which injects a urea solution called AdBlue into the exhaust to get rid of eighty percent of NOx in the form of nitrogen and water vapor. The engine is mated to Mercedes-Benz's 7G-TRONIC seven-speed transmission and 4MATIC all-wheel-drive system, which splits torque 45:55 front-to-rear. We expect to see a similar diesel along with at least one gas V-6 on the option sheet.

One feature we hope remains is the G button; not really because of its function, we just like the sound of it. When the button is pressed, the transmission shift points and stability control settings change while throttle response becomes softer for better modulation off-road.

As with previous Vision concepts, the GLK Freeside should be a pretty accurate indication of the GLK you'll see in M-B showrooms. The matte-finish paint may not make production, but the interior and exterior certainly look assembly-line-ready. The design is a blend of GL-class shape and aggressive details from Mercedes-Benz's car line. In making the GLK look more like a miniature Gelandewagen (G-class) rather than a mini ML, Mercedes hopes to avoid the problem that BMW has had with the X3 cannibalizing sales from the similar-looking X5. The GLK also avoids the "soft-roader" look of most other small crossover SUVs, such as the Toyota RAV4 and the Acura RDX.

The GLK may be hopping on the end of the luxury SUV train, but it looks like a worthy competitor for the BMW X3s of the world. We're already excited for the possibility of a ridiculous, impractical GLK63 AMG.

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