Click above for a high-res gallery of the MB GLK Hybrid
When Mercedes-Benz premiered the new GLK compact SUV at the Detroit Auto Show in January, the styling struck most people as at best awkward. With the outward appearance of the full-size GL shrunk down to an Escape-sized vehicle, it still looks like a reject for a Chrysler Sebring crossover. Regardless of what you think of the exterior body work, the latest edition of the GLK that Mercedes is showing in concept form at Geneva next week seems to be capable of pretty serious mileage for an SUV/CUV. The Vision GLK BlueTec Hybrid is another in the series of models using the new mild hybrid system Mercedes is developing with BMW. In this case, Mercedes has combined it with the 2.2L four cylinder diesel for a total output of 224 hp and 413 lb-ft of torque. That's enough to move the GLK to 62 mph in 7.3 sec while getting 40 mpg (US). On the outside, the shell is covered in the same AluBeam paint that was on the anniversary edition AMG CL65 shown in New York last year, which looks absolutely stunning. The production version of the GLK debuts this summer and the mild hybrid system should start appearing in production BMWs and Benzes in 2009.
Related GalleryGeneva '08: Mercedes-Benz Vision GLK BlueTec Hybrid
The grand rehearsal at the beginning of this year already made heads turn, when the striking Vision GLK entered the SUV stage and was celebrated as a compact character actor marking a new design approach in this vehicle class. At the 2008 Geneva Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz is going a step further and adding the Vision GLK BLUETEC HYBRID to the line-up. This study illustrates the possibilities of the "TrueBlueSolutions" strategy in the compact SUV segment, true to the guiding Mercedes-Benz theme of producing the world's most efficient and clean drive systems. The Vision GLK BLUETEC HYBRID achieved this goal by combining the new BLUETEC four-cylinder diesel engine generation with a hybrid module. This combination generates an overall output of 165 kW/224 hp, and a torque of 560 Nm. Superior performance can be taken as read in view of these figures. And yet the Vision GLK BLUETEC HYBRID returns a fuel consumption of only 5.9 l per 100 km.
With its TrueBlueSolutions strategy, Mercedes-Benz is preparing the way for the introduction of the world's most economical and clean vehicles. As in the case of the VISION GLK BLUETEC HYBRID, ultra-modern and efficient diesel engines with innovative BLUETEC emissions control, hybrid modules and intelligent energy management are among the centrepieces of this trailblazing generation of drive systems. The study for this compact characterful SUV has a combined output of 165 kW/224 hp and generates a combined torque of 560 newton metres, the world's highest in this class. This enables the VISION GLK BLUETEC HYBRID to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h in 7.3 seconds; its maximum speed is 215 km/h. Despite these performance figures, this multi-talented newcomer consumes an average of only 5.9 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres, and achieves the world's lowest CO2 emissions in the SUV segment, with 157 grams per kilometre.
In conjunction with highly efficient BLUETEC emissions control and AdBlue injection, the GLK BLUETEC HYBRID meets the world's most stringent exhaust emission limits, such as the American BIN5 and the European EU6 standards.
"With the refinement, driving pleasure, outstanding economy and effective environmental friendliness that is typical of our brand, the VISION GLK BLUETEC HYBRID ideally represents our ideas on future model generations in the world of SUVs", says Dr Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Corporate Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
Mixed double: state-of-the-art BLUETEC engine and hybrid module
In the hybrid drivetrain, a completely new four-cylinder CDI diesel unit with a displacement of 2.2 litres acts as the internal combustion engine. In terms of exhaust emissions technology, thanks to the latest BLUETEC technology with AdBlue injection, this diesel engine is already among the world's very cleanest power units. The technical highlights of this extremely compact and refined CDI unit with a geared camshaft drive mounted on the flywheel side include fourth-generation common-rail direct injection with an injection pressure of 2000 bar, innovative piezoelectric injectors and a two-stage turbocharger system. The compact hybrid module - a disc-shaped electric motor between the CDI engine and the automatic transmission - improves both the environmental compatibility and the effectiveness of the drive system. The electric motor acts as both a generator and starter, and performs convincingly in two important respects: firstly it contributes decisively to fuel economy, and secondly it significantly enhances driving pleasure by virtue of the so-called boost effect.
The electric motor backs up the internal combustion engine during the fuel-intensive acceleration phase by contributing its maximum torque of 160 newton metres. As a result the occupants experience an effortless rush of power right from the start. In addition the system features a comfortable start-stop function which switches the engine off in certain circumstances - for example when the car is stopped at traffic lights.
The driver only needs to operate the accelerator in order to set off again. As the engine starts within milliseconds, the VISION GLK moves off with no delay. This direct starting also helps to minimise emissions and fuel consumption.
When it comes to braking, the procedures are reversed: the electric motor acts as a generator, feeding the electrical energy obtained by what is known as the "recuperation" process into an efficient yet compact lithium-ion battery. This energy can be retrieved when needed - for the next "boost" phase, for example. All these processes take place fully automatically, thanks to intelligent drive management.
Striking body design counters stylistic uniformity
With the VISION GLK BLUETEC HYBRID, a distinctive character is entering the SUV stage whose special appeal lies in a combination of the four-square original design of the legendary G-Class and the typical design features of today's Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. Crisp lines and large taut body surfaces come together with the bodyshell characteristics of practical off-roaders, such as short overhangs, an upright front end, slim A-pillars, a steep windscreen and tight roof contours. For the first time, this body design enables typical off-roader advantages to be transferred to the more road-oriented, compact SUV class. An excellent view of the vehicle body and good all-round visibility go together with the raised seating position to enhance day-to-day suitability and ensure relaxed driving even in dense city traffic. The appealing design concept is reinforced by the special "alubeam blue" paint finish, whose incomparable depth further underlines the sporty aspects of the bodyshell design. Specially produced 20-inch light-alloy wheels and muscular wheel arches enhance the powerful aura of the Vision GLK BLUETEC HYBRID even further.
Interior: High-end atmosphere meets good ergonomics
The comfortable, high-quality interior of the Vision GLK BLUETEC HYBRID excels with a modern interpretation of surface styling, an impressive quality of materials and precise finishing. The dominant feature is the dashboard, which visually extends into the door panels, lending additional width to the generously dimensioned interior. An elegant, central section in brushed aluminium trim covers the entire width and divides the layout into three vertical levels. The upper section of the dashboard is lined in black leather, encompassing the instrument cluster and the fixed COMAND APS central display. The lower area of the interior and the seats accentuate the sporty nature of the study with leather upholstery and linings in a light shade of aquamarine, which echoes the colour effects of the "alubeam blue" exterior paintwork. Dark-blue piped seams provide a visually effective contrast. The driver's armrest and the COMAND APS controller are located in ergonomically ideal positions.
The occupants are protected by a comprehensive safety concept based on an extremely rigid passenger cell and energy-absorbing deformation zones at the front and rear. In addition to airbags, sidebags and windowbags, the protective features include a driver kneebag and active head restraints.
VISION GLK appointments at the perceived level of the luxury class
This compact concept vehicle has technical features and appointments which are normally the preserve of higher vehicle classes. In addition to the anticipatory safety concept PRE-SAFE and the Intelligent Light System (ILS), these include the infotainment centre COMAND APS with HDD navigation, whose controls follow the tried-and-tested, intuitive operating logic familiar from the S-Class, as well as THERMOTRONIC 3-zone automatic climate control.
The extremely stable bodyshell raises the basic parameters by which comfort is defined to a level which is unprecedented in the compact SUV segment: Both handling stability and vibration/noise comfort are absolutely convincing in all conditions.
AGILITY CONTROL: Safety plus dynamic handling and comfort
The AGILITY CONTROL suspension of the on-road Vision GLK BLUETEC HYBRID substantially reconciles the conflicting aims of sporty and agile handling on the one hand and comfortable, smooth travel on the other. Thanks to "amplitude-dependent damping", the suspension delivers a soft response during normal travel on moderately contoured roads or unmetalled surfaces. Comfort is maintained even when driving more briskly or during avoiding manoeuvres, as the dampers work harder in this situation to ensure maximum handling stability. At the same time the driver of the Vision GLK BLUETEC HYBRID is assisted by a speed-sensitive steering system. Parking and low-speed manoeuvring are made much easier because full servo assistance is made available. At higher speeds this servo assistance is reduced in the interests of improved handling stability.
Latest addition to the premium SUV segment
Mercedes-Benz has occupied the leading position in the off-road sector since the introduction of the legendary G-Class in 1979. With the first-generation ML-Class, which was launched in 1997, Mercedes-Benz defined the Sports Utility Vehicle in its modern interpretation. Together with the current model, which celebrated its premiere in 2005, sales of this model series are rapidly approaching the one million mark, making it one of the world's most successful premium SUVs. Since 2006 another SUV from Mercedes-Benz has occupied the pole position in the SUV world - the GL-Class, whose occupants enjoy first-class travel in all circumstances, whether on or off-road.
The Vision GLK BLUETEC HYBRID now demonstrates how outstanding performance could be paired with minimal fuel consumption in the future. What is more, this combination need not be confined to the new GLK-Class, which will enter the market in autumn 2008.