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Mercedes GLK 300 4Matic in the test

Mercedes GLK 300 4Matic in the super test
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At least in Europe you don't have to explain for long what all-wheel drive expertise is M ercedes can be found: G-Modell and Unimog have been guarantors of excellent off-road capabilities for decades. The younger siblings ML and GL can, too, when they should: With the off-road package including gear reduction and height-adjustable chassis, they are at the forefront in their respective segments as soon as off-road talent is required. A handsome family into which the new SUV baby was born.

There are no reduction gears or axle locks in the Mercedes GLK

But also an obligation - after all, the Swabians want the GLK as evidenced by the shape as a knight of the knights know, it doesn't just pretend. However, it carries a certain design burden with it: there are no aids like the big siblings - reduction gears, axle locks or at least a height-adjustable chassis with plenty of ground clearance. The GLK uses the current C-Class as an organ donor and also uses its all-wheel drive system including a central transfer case - everything else has to be handled by the electronics. This can be found in the price list in the form of the off-road technology package for 702 euros. This gives the GLK two additional switches in the center console that are supposed to make it fitter away from the road: The hill descent control, called DSR at Mercedes, can be set to the desired speed using cruise control. The second switch activates the car's off-road programming: This changes, among other things, the characteristic curve of the electronic accelerator pedal, which then responds less sensitively. In addition, ABS and traction control are each adapted to more wheel slip in order to allow the wheels to lock briefly when braking and to allow more power to the wheels when digging.

The programming of the automatic transmission is also adapted so that the gears can be continued can turn out. In addition, the transmission is supplemented by a switch for manual gear selection - this is how the driver determines which level is most suitable when off-road. A nice feature in connection with the Comand system: There a compass as well as GPS data, altitude information and the steering angle can be displayed on the monitor - we knew thatso far only from VW. An additional benefit of the off-road package is a complete underbody protection made of light but extremely impact-resistant plastic. Another special feature of the GLK is its active chassis called Agility Control, also adopted from the C-Class. The dampers work depending on the situation: They are tighter when driving fast or in bends, they react more smoothly and allow more wheel movement on poor surfaces at low speeds.

Off-road styling package for the Mercedes GLK only option

That works surprisingly well, at least on the road, where the GLK can convince both in terms of sportiness and driving comfort compared to the southern German competition with the Audi Q5 and BMW X3. It gets a bit strange when the off-road styling package is on the wish list: It not only includes underrun protection imitations on the front and rear, but also different tire sizes on the front and rear axles. For the Supertest, we put the GLK on A /T tires in one size. By the way: if you want the Benz as quickly as possible and also want to go off-road, you have to take this package - all GLK with off-road equipment will be delivered in this way by mid-2009. Before this time, there were also only six-cylinders. So if you want to buy the basic 220 CDI model, you have to wait until the second quarter of next year.

Can the electronics fix everything? It cannot, as this super test shows again: certain technical skills simply cannot be simulated. It is just as difficult to conjure up a well-articulated chassis from a sporty, taut basic car concept, just as it is not possible to replace axle locks with automatic brake intervention. None of this is new, but the GLK has to be attested that it does its job reasonably well for SUV conditions. In the pre-series phase, Mercedes technicians also did secret laps on our Supertest area in order to adapt the control systems to the Supertest conditions. However, that did not help in every of our test sections, because the neat Daimler made one or two mistakes. It is noteworthy, however, that the electronics are noticeably more sensitive and effective compared to those in the big brother GL, which passed the Supertest two years ago.

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