Your Turbodiesel I-4 Premium SUV Has Arrived
The original Mercedes-Benz GLK was marketed toward successful women, but now the automaker wants to expand the premium compact crossover’s appeal to active couples and families. After having driven and tested the fuel-sipping 2014 GLK250 BlueTec 4Matic, we’re sure the torque-rich, fuel-sipping diesel engine will broaden the compact SUV’s appeal even further.
Instead of the GLK350’s 302-hp, 273-lb-ft, 3.5-liter gasoline V-6, the GLK250 gets a 2.1-liter turbodiesel I-4 good for 200 hp and a whopping 369 lb-ft of torque. That torque comes at a mere 1600 rpm, but the powerband runs out at just 5200 rpm. The seven-speed automatic transmission features an engine stop-start system, lower-slip torque converter, and new fluid to improve efficiency. Standard on the GLK250 is Mercedes’ 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, with power split 45:55 front to rear. Electromechanical steering assist with speed-sensitive assist and a variable ratio replaces the previous GLK’s hydraulic setup.
Mercedes claims the engine is the most powerful diesel I-4 available in a production SUV. Fuel is supplied directly into the combustion chambers at 29,000 psi, which Mercedes says enables precise fuel delivery based on engine load and speed to increase power and lower emissions. A twin-turbo setup combines a small high-pressure (HP) turbo mounted at the exhaust manifold and a large low-pressure (LP) turbo mounted downstream for better throttle delivery. With the turbines mounted in a series-sequential arrangement, the HP turbine can produce high boost at low engine revs to minimize lag. Mercedes says the twin-turbo setup reduces lag, quickens throttle response, and provides a broad torque curve across the rpm range
In order to meet emissions regulations in all 50 states, the turbodiesel engine uses an AdBlue injection system. The 7.3-gallon AdBlue tank is refilled at the SUV’s 10,000-mile service intervals.
Though many wouldn’t expect a diesel inline-four engine to meet the NVH requirements of a luxury vehicle, the engine’s distinctive diesel knock has a surprisingly muted, almost soothing, rumble rather than the expected high-pitched clatter. The turbodiesel is quiet even with the radio off and the windows down. Once it gets going, the GLK250 has plenty of torque to keep up with — and pull away from — traffic. After spending the better part of a week with the diesel SUV, I hopped behind the wheel of the GLK350. While not as fast as the gas-powered variant, not once during my time in the diesel GLK250 did I yearn for more power.
At the track, our 4359-pound tester hit 0-60 mph in 7.0 seconds flat and finished the quarter-mile in 15.3 seconds at 87.4 mph. Those stats make the GLK250 1.2 seconds slower to 60 mph and 0.9 seconds and 9.0 mph slower in the quarter-mile than the all-wheel-drive GLK350. Unless your commute consists of light-to-light drag racing, you probably won’t notice the GLK250’s acceleration deficit.
Our tester rode on 19-inch AMG wheels, but came with the same all-season tires as the GLK350. At the track, our tester pulled 0.74 g on the skidpad and went around the figure eight in 28.7 seconds at 0.57 g average. Those numbers are comparable to the GLK350, which pulled 0.76 g average on the skidpad and finished the quarter-mile in 28.5 seconds at 0.55 g average. From 60 mph, the GLK250 stops in 117 feet — 4 feet shorter than the 176-pound-lighter GLK350 4Matic. While the stopping distance is good for a heavy SUV, excessive brake dive on the street isn’t confidence inspiring.
Although the GLK250 is not as fast as the GLK350, it excels in fuel mileage. The all-wheel-drive-only turbodiesel model is EPA rated 24/33/28 mpg city/highway/combined, while the GLK350 earns an EPA rating of 19/24-25/21 mpg for all-wheel and rear-drive models. Based on the EPA rating for combined mpg, the diesel-powered model has about a 122-mile range advantage over the gas model and a 95-mile advantage based on our observed driving.
The GLK250 BlueTec 4Matic is priced comparably to the gas-powered models, with the GLK250 starting at $39,495 (including destination). That’s $1500 more than the rear-drive GLK350 and $500 less than the all-wheel-drive GLK350. While gas and diesel fuel costs vary by region, the price gap closes because the gas V-6 engine requires premium. With a similar vehicle price and fuel cost, the fuel mileage advantage becomes a compelling factor in the GLK250’s favor.
With an as tested price of $50,485, our tester came with optional $720 Steel Gray paint, $750 heated front seats, $3450 Premium Package (garage door opener, compass, auto-dimming driver side and rearview mirrors, power liftgate, panorama sunroof, MP3 hookup, SiriusXM radio, and 115-volt AC outlet), $1290 Lighting Package (adaptive HID headlights, cornering lamps, headlight washers, adaptive high-beam assist), $2790 Multimedia Package (backup camera, voice command with navigation and MB apps, in-dash six-disc DVD/CD changer, and 7-inch color display), $1990 AMG Styling Package (19-inch AMG wheels, front and rear bumpers, chrome skidplates, brushed aluminum roof rails, LED DRLs).
Missing from out tester was the $2100 Leather Package (leather upholstery, premium interior lighting, 10-way front passenger seat with memory, comfort-type head restraints), $810 harmon/kardon audio system, $650 push-button start, $850 Lane Tracking Package (blind spot assist, lane keeping assist), and $2950 Driver Assistance Package (Distronic Plus with Pre-Safe brake, blind spot assist, lane keeping assist, Pre-Safe predictive occupant protection system), $970 Parktronic with Active Parking Assist, $550 trailer hitch).
While a fully loaded example could reach just under $60,000 including the $1515 Diamond White Metallic paint, Mercedes suggests most GLK250 transactions will be in the $40,000 range.
For luxury buyers with fuel savings in mind, the Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTec 4Matic gives up little in performance during most driving scenarios, yet rewards drivers with savings at the fuel pump. Besides, the money you save on fuel could be spent filling up a C-Class coupe or SLK roadster on weekends.
|2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$50,485|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV|
|ENGINE||2.1L/200-hp/369-lb-ft twin-turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||4359 lb (54/46%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||178.3 x 74.3 x 66.9 in|
|0-60 MPH||7 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.3 sec @ 87.4 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||117 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.74 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||28.7 sec @ 0.57 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||24/33 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||159/116 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.81 lb/mile|