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Mercedes GLK not for Oz

Big Benz: GL-class dwarfs the ML, which will in turn drawf the GLK..

Mercedes’ upcoming sub-ML BMW X3 rival, the compact GLK, won't come to Australia

31 Jul 2007

MERCEDES-BENZ has confirmed that its first compact SUV will not be imported to Australia.

The GLK, which is codenamed X204 and based on the new W204 C-class’ modular platform, will only be produced in left-hand drive.

According to Mercedes-Benz Australia managing director Horst von Sanden, this has ended its chances of coming to Australia.

“It is very disappointing,” he said, and would not be drawn to make further comment.

According to overseas reports, Mercedes-Benz’s decision to develop and build the GLK as a left-hand drive-only vehicle is the result of a number of mechanical packaging problems that has precluded the company from also importing the 4Matic AWD versions of the C-class range into Australia.

More specifically, it appears that the driveshaft protrudes into the driver’s footwell area in RHD vehicles.

Expect to see the production version of the GLK at the Geneva motor show next March.

4 center imageLeft: New C-class 4Matic.

Until recently, the vehicle was referred to by the media as the MLK, but Mercedes appears to be aligning its SUV to the larger GL-class, with the K added to denote its compactness: K is for “kurz”, or “short”, in German, although it could also stand for “klein”, which means “small”.

The GLK will be an on-road-focused SUV that, like its bigger ML brother, will also offer an optional off-road package featuring extra ground clearance, adjustable suspension height, hill-descent control and some beefed-up bodywork trim.

A bespoke interior, as well as larger brakes, uprated suspension and different steering, also separate the GLK from the donor C-class.

Interestingly, some pundits believe that the GLK may also be offered as a rear-wheel drive-only proposition.

Engine choices should mirror the C-class, meaning forced-induced four-cylinder, naturally aspirated V6 petrol, as well as diesel options, plus a GLK 63 AMG if one publication proves to be correct.

Other major RHD markets such as the UK, Japan and South Africa will also miss out on the mini Mercedes SUV.

The GLK joins the recently announced Volkswagen Tiguan, which has – for the moment – been declared as a possible no-show for Australia.

The move is great news for the existing importers of premium compact SUVs in Australia, namely BMW (X3), Lexus (RX) and Land Rover (Freelander II).

However, speculation suggests that Audi will almost certainly not make the same mistake as Mercedes-Benz, with its much-anticipated Q5 expected to arrive soon in concept form.

Some reports state that it may be as early as next month’s Frankfurt motor show, although Detroit, Los Angeles or Geneva in the first quarter of 2008 seem more likely.

The Q5 will be spun off the Audi’s new MLB modular platform, which also underpins the new A5 coupe, as well as a whole slew of upcoming models commencing with the B7-series A4. The latter is set to be one of the stars of the Frankfurt show.

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