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Quick Spin: 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC

Mercedes-Benz has had a long love affair with the diesel motor. The automaker has been churning out oil burners for well over 75years. In the United States, Benz has been sending over diesel-drinking machines since 1949. In fact, during the oil crisis of the 70’s and 80’s, many car shoppers turned to Mercedes for diesel offerings to help alleviate costs at the pump. Eventually, however, consumers got a bit tired of the loud, stinking machines and turned their attention back to regular gasoline.

Things have changed, however, and diesel vehicles are experiencing a renaissance in this country. Volkswagen and Audi both sell a bunch, BMW has added a few stateside, and even a few Japanese and American manufacturers are now offering diesel vehicles. It makes sense then that one of the pioneers of the diesel engine would continue to add more oil-burners to its existing family of products.

Enter the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC rear

Driving up the California waterline along the Pacific Coast Highway, I find myself staring at the lovely oceanfront property. My eye also catches a few exotic machines rolling past the Malibu mansions, heading in the other direction to well-heeled parts unknown. Still, a few eyes are gazing on my own ride, which is a brand-new 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250. I didn’t expect the looks though, because this looks just like all of the other 2013 GLK examples currently rolling up, over, and around Southern California.

Apparently people really do pay attention to the badges in Los Angeles… and that’s a good thing in this case, because it means they understand that they’re looking at a GLK that drinks diesel instead of gasoline.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC detail

Under the hood is a 2.1-liter four-cylinder engine that benefits from the addition of a pair of turbos. This setup is good for 200 horsepower, which doesn’t sound like a ton. The torque output, however, is rated at 369 pound-feet of torque, and it’s all available at just 1,800 rpm. Paired with a seven-speed paddle-shiftable gearbox, all of the energy is routed out to all four wheels by way of the 4MATI all-wheel-drive system. It’s a smooth running setup that helps remind you why you pay extra for luxury vehicles like this one.

To be totally honest, I expected the slog up PCH to be a bit of a chore. It’s not like those 200 horses are pulling a Miata around. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find that down-road cruising was an easy affair. Not only that, with all of that torque on tap I could pass with relative ease. Push the center-mounted E->S button and the GLK250 is now in Sport mode. This only made the job of passing easier because the seven-speed gearbox was now holding gears a bit longer.

The Pacific Coast Highway, particularly this section through Malibu, undulates, twists, and turns its way up coastal California. Sure, I’d prefer to be scooting along in a drop-top SLS AMG, but the GLK wasn’t a total snooze behind the wheel. When I point the tiller where I want the vehicle to go, it responds and places the wheels where I asked them to be. There’s no real dead zone at the top, and there’s even a decent bit of back being relayed to my hands. That’s a welcome surprise.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC nose detail

Inside, the GLK250 is as nicely appointed as I’d hope that a modern Mercedes-Benz should be. Despite the fact that this is essentially an entry-level luxury crossover, it never feels like I’m cruising around in a luxury toy designed to trap people who really shouldn’t be spending the dough. The standard kit is top-notch, and the GLK250 also comes loaded with class-leading safety features. Not only that, but it starts at around $38,000. Tons of money, no question, but relatively speaking it’s a considerable bargain for this segment.

In fact, it’s the only diesel in the segment.

Mercedes-Benz is the first to market with an oil burner in the compact luxury crossover world. If you want an alternative to a standard gasoline engine, your only choices right now are the Lexus RX Hybrid (nope) and the Audi Q5 Hybrid (not bad). BMW says that there could be an X3 diesel on the horizon and Audi has been teasing a Q5 TDI for some time. Apparently the Q5 TDI should land in the US sometime this fall, but it’s not here yet.

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 BlueTEC wide

Imagine this scenario, if you will; you’re a man who has finally started to make a healthy bit of money. You’ve worked for it, and you were given nothing along the way. It’s time to buy that car you’ve earned and start a family with the one you love. Now, as a Redusernab reader, you might think this means some sort of muscle car, an econo-box daily driver, and a LeMons racecar. I can’t fault you because I have similar visions.

Still, popping a luxury machine in your driveway should be an achievement as well. You’d like a little bit of ground clearance, all-wheel-drive, and a bit more luxury than you’re used to. You also want to remain a bit more unique… and that’s where the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 comes in. It’s got all of the luxury and style you desire, yet it also sips diesel fuel which allows it to boast a driving range of 515 miles. That’s over 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

Everyone else can roll past in their Lexus RX, BMW X3, Acura RDX, whatever… you’ve got a vehicle that’s a whole lot more interesting. It taps into the history of one of the world’s greatest car makers, and it does it without shouting about it. There are no TDI/HYBRID/LOOKATME decals plastered over fenders and on trunk lids.

This is diesel for folks who’ve earned a taste of the sweet life. It’s diesel done right.

[Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz wanted me to drive the 2013 GLK250 so they invited me to have lunch at a fancy house in Santa Monica. Then they gave me the keys to a GLK and set me loose in Malibu.]

  • Kogashiwa

    Please tell me I'm not the only one who was caused by the Miata mention to instantly think "put this engine in a Miata …"

    • everytime I meet an engine I like, I spend the next few days pondering engine swaps.

  • Battles

    Incredible. A diesel wagon that's available in the US but I can't get one in the UK.
    These aren't made in right hand drive, shame really.

    • Maymar

      I will gladly trade you one of these for a diesel C-Class wagon. Or a gas-powered C-Class wagon. Any W204 wagon really, preferably with 3 pedals. Or, well, four I guess, for the emergency brake.

    • duurtlang_

      I can get one in the Netherlands though. And not just as the 250 diesel, as the 200, 220 and 350 diesel are available as well. There even seems to be a gasoline engine (a 350). But they're all left hand drive, obviously. These seem to be mostly designed for the US though, which is probably why you're not getting it in the UK. Over here the GLK250 diesel costs €1000 more than a E250 diesel wagon, which is superior to the GLK in every way other than ground clearance. The C250 diesel wagon, the car the GLK competes against internally, is a whopping €13000 cheaper here. And that too is superior to the GLK in most ways.

      From my perspective you're absolutely barking mad if you get one of these over a Merc wagon in Europe. Unless when you've got completely worn out hip joints or really need the ground clearance.

  • wisc47

    I always liked the idea of having a used BlueTec as a daily driver. Of course, living in an area where it snows about four to five months of the year would make having an E-class a complete pain, and I have no need for a full sized SUV, so the GLK seems like a nice compromise. Too bad I would probably end up with a WRX anyways.

    • There's a 4Matic E-Class with this motor just around the bend…

      • wisc47

        Well now all I have to do is play the depreciation waiting game…

        • Devin

          The waiting game sucks, let's play Hungry Hungry Hippos!

  • pj134

    Completely off topic, but I wonder when they're going to start calling Mercedes SUVs something like "Lifted Brake"…

    • Vairship

      Shooting Utility Vehicle perhaps?

  • Is GLK a short for GLucKer?
    /I will show myself out

  • Van_Sarockin

    Sounds like they've come a long ways from all those smoking, clattering, glacially accelerating 240Ds and 300SLs, which did so much to turn folks off from diesel cars back in the seventies and eighties.

  • 0ToTuttiFrutti

    The article omits what I think is the most interesting feature of this car, which is the BlueTEC system. It injects a urea solution into the exhaust to catalyze the NOx into nitrogen and water. Somewhere on the vehicle there's a small tank of the solution that needs to be refilled periodically.

    Apparently it's common in commercial diesel trucks, particularly in Europe.

    Yes, I did have to look it up.

    • Battles

      Yeah, you see commercials in the UK and Europe that have the additive filler next to the diesel filler.
      No idea what sort of fill ratio it needs.

      Sometimes called AdBlue or diesel exhaust fluid.

    • Alcology

      Is that a PIT stop? Because I would Piss In iT. And if I was the engineer in charge of that, I would definitely make it work with urine. Urine this boat with me or you're not peeing in my car.

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