Benz wagon turns right
New plans send GLK our way, writes PAUL GOVER in the US
PRESSURE from Australia has helped to put the Mercedes-Benz GLK on track for Down Under. The mid-sized all-wheel-drive wagon, which lobs this year into a cramped competition with crack contenders from Audi, BMW and Volvo, was originally a no-go for right-handdrive deliveries.
Benz built its original GLK business case around left-hand-drive sales and said the car would be too costly to retroengineer for right-hand drive.
But now it is back-tracking and a right- hand-drive GLK should be ready for action by the early months of 2011.
That’s not good enough for people who are going to buy an Audi Q5, a BMW X3 or a Volvo XC60 or even a Volkswagen Tiguan before then, but it is better than nothing.
‘‘We’re working to get the GLK as soon as we can,’’ Mercedes-Benz Australia’s David McCarthy says.
‘‘We believe the dynamic, safety and performance package is class-leading.’’
After driving the GLK in Los Angeles I believe him. It is an impressively refined and comfortable car with plenty of cabin space and standard equipment.
It definitely shades the X3 and is a step up from Japanese compact wagons such as the Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Murano.
The only question now is the timing and specification for the GLK.
‘‘It’s not 100 per cent confirmed yet, but we are very confident it will come at the time of the facelift. That’s 18 months to two years away,’’ McCarthy says.
‘‘We’re aiming to have it in rear-wheel drive. It would be priced around X3 money, so in the mid-$60,000s.
‘‘If people really want a four-wheeldrive we still have the ML.’’
Mercedes is still working on engines for the GLK, but the V6 is probably out, for the same reason as all-wheel-drive, though there will be a spread from the 200 Kompressor to the 250 petrol and diesel also used in the C-Class compact, which donates much of its mechanical package to the wagon.
‘‘I think the 350 V6 is probably going to be too expensive. Between $60,000 and $80,000 is where that car can really hit the sweet spot,’’ McCarthy says.