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Old 08-08-2007, 03:35 PM   #1
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Default Mercedes makes it official New compact SUV called GLK


McCALL, Idaho -- Mercedes-Benz USA officially confirmed that its new compact SUV will be named the GLK class, with a European launch late next year and a U.S. launch in early 2009.

The name GLK suggests a smaller version of the full-sized GL-class SUV, but the resemblance is limited to the new model's relatively squared-off exterior. A disguised prototype shown at a press event here Tuesday, Aug. 7, was much lower and shorter than the GL.

The exterior of the prototype GLK was covered with heavy black cladding and what looked like black electrical tape.

But Mercedes provided a clear look at the interior. It included white leather seats with black piping, black wood trim, the Mercedes COMAND-Plus single-knob controller for many electronically controlled functions, and a screen in the dash for a navigation system.

Like the M class and unlike the GL class, there are only two rows of seats.

The prototype probably depicts a top trim level with lots of options, which is how Mercedes imports most models for the United States. The GLK will be built in Germany -- unlike the M class or GL class, which are built in Alabama.

The GLK prototype had an upright and aggressive front grille and a relatively upright windshield with a squared-off rear end. Geoff Day, Mercedes' director of communications and experiences, said the GLK will be positioned as a compact SUV, as opposed to a crossover.

Mercedes officials would not confirm any details on pricing or engines. The GLK probably will start below $40,000 and well below the M class, which starts at $44,425 including shipping.

Dave Larsen, product manager for the M class and the upcoming GLK, said likely competitors will include the BMW X3, the Acura RDX, the Land Rover LR2, the upcoming Volvo XC60 and the Volkswagen Tiguan, plus new entries from Lexus and Infiniti.

The X3 starts at $38,775 including shipping.

The GLK class will likely make its public debut in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
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