Test drive GLK 220 CDI 4Matic: Urban Design

Mercedes GLK 220 CDI 4Matic
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Five years after the official launch, GLK started to develop some wrinkles, especially in the technical area, but this doesn’t stop it from dominating furthermore the competition where hostilities are carried out in the urban environment. Test with GLK 220 CDI 4Matic.

Closely analyzing GLK’s facelift it is difficult to realize that half decade has passed since Mercedes introduced the first compact SUV in brand’s history. The apparently simple angular lines fit perfectly GLK’s shapes, just like the modern art immune to time passing. Nowadays, few cars have an exterior design that can conserve its artistic freshness more than two or three years since the official lunch. In this case GLK has a huge advantage.

The facelift it received last year didn’t lead to major interventions, and in the details category can be included the modified parts such as: new headlamps, all-new LED light units and small touches on the spoilers. In this case, the tested model “cheated” with the introduction of a new AMG exterior package, an important change that can’t go wrong.

The first clue that betrays car’s age comes from the board layout, especially the multimedia side build around the Comand system, whose total ergonomics and efficiency can be considered rather decent. If you don’t choose the top version of the system, you will notice a sharp contrast between the average quality of the front display and the high quality of the digital screen from the dial boards.

The quality of the finishes and fabrics can’t be called into question, maybe just the classical approach of the layout, on a wide range of switches, in Mercedes-Benz characteristic style. Personally, I am not a fan of a huge amount of switches, but it seems to match perfectly the cars with the star. This kind of loud classicism matches the elegance concept characteristic to Mercedes-Benz models from the last decades.

Test GLK 220 CDI  2

The interior space proves to be a double-edged sword for GLK, because, strictly compared with the competition, the Mercedes-Benz compact SUV is surpassed in some regards. If front passengers have no reasons to complain, on the rear bench, the space is only average for 1.80 m adults, while the 450 litre trunk is inferior to BMW X3’s 550 litre boot capacity. This is logical given that the GLK is more of a compact SUV with 12cm shorter than its rivals.

The good part of this statistics can be observed in the urban environment, where the GLK is easier to park and to manoeuvre. The excellent visibility matters enormously and it is generated by the ideal configuration of the gantries and body’s angular shapes. When buying a car, few customers actually take into consideration the visibility, and on the long term this situation becomes frustrating.

  • Perfect size for the urban environment
  • Good all around visibility
  • Refined diesel engine
  • Better off-road capabilities than his competitors


  • A bit crowded in the back
  • Command multimedia system lags behind the competition
  • Slow reacting gearbox

Going back to measurable values, the 220 CDI number mounted on the tailgate of our test car scores the most popular technical configuration for GLK clients: diesel, four cylinder, 2.2 litre and 170 HP. This diesel means between the 200 CDI/143 HP entry-level and the 250 BlueTec/204 HP (this version is sold also on US market for 38,980 USD) indicative offers praiseworthy dynamic performances and also advantages concerning the purchasing price and fuel consumption.

During the test, the extra-urban fuel consumption had stabilized around 6.5l/100 km value with four passengers and luggage, while the only drawback is the belated response of the throttle. More exactly, GLK offers two modes; the first one is Efficiency where we noticed the previously mentioned problem and the Sport mode that delivers a balanced response from the engine/transmission unit. In the future, I am sure that Mercedes will integrate an intermediary mode, either Normal or Comfort, and this will solve all issues. Until then, at least in the extra-urban environment, the GLK owners will have to couple the Sport mode.

We’re still in the technical chapter, and the outdated 7G-Tronic transmission can be easily noticed. Even though the gears are shifted almost unperceivable, this is often carried out with a visible slowness. It is important to point out that some of the competitors have already adopted more efficient 8-speed transmissions. Concerning the suspension, GLK doesn’t pretend to be anywhere near sporty, but more balanced and efficient in leaching imperfections, despite the optional 19 inch wheels that come with the AMG package. Overall, with all the advantages and disadvantages, GLK offers a pragmatic and efficient approach of the premium compact SUV concept. The emphasis is on the urban side where the steering and the design are one of the characteristics impossible to ignore.

And we don’t have to forget the off-road part, because long suspension travel and good approach/brakeover/departure angles allow GLK to attack more difficult places than competitors like BMW X3 or Audi Q5, which are mainly sportives SUVs for asphalt.

Foto: Răzvan Loghin


With an original design totally different from his rivals, which remind the G-Class, GLK fits perfectly for the urban jungle. But even in real jungle it fits perfect thanks to very good off-road aptitudes for a soft SUV. Space at the rear is a little tight and Comand ergonomics show the age of the concept but the next generation which will come in 2015 will improve dramatically both critics.

Technical data Mercedes GLK 220 CDI 4Matic

ModelGLK 220 CDI 4Matic
Engine typeL4, bi-turbo diesel
Displacement (cmc)2143
Max.power/revs (CP/rpm)170/3000-4200
Max. torque/revs (Nm/rpm)400/1400-2800
Transmissionaut., 7 sp.
L/l/h (mm)4536/1840/1669
Wheelbase (mm)2755
Boot capacity(l)450-1550
Kerb weight(kg)1880
Maximum speed (km/h)205
Acceleration 0-100 km/h (s)8.8
Combined fuel consumption (l/100 km)6.1
Emission CO2 (g/km)159
Pre? (euro with VAT, GER)43,673