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2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK350 First Impressions

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Design
The new GLK350 is a deceptive vehicle. By itself ,it seems as large as an ML-series Mercedes. Put the ML beside the GLK and you can see how your eye gets deceived. The GLK is narrower, shorter and lower, but has the lines to hide it well. The GLK tapers slightly from lower sill to the roof line when you look at it from the back. Side views show a couple of sculpted lines in the bodywork that seem to elongate and raise the vehicle. Shiny 18-inch wheels on low-profile tires fill enough of the wheel wells to keep the "bling" boys happy, since there is little other brightwork on the GLK.

The GLK is narrower, shorter and lower, but has the lines to hide it well.

Walk around to the front and the body-colored front fascia separates an upper and lower grille area. The upper grille is a two-bar setup (Europe uses a three-bar grille) with a large three-pointed star in the middle. Just behind the upper grille bar is a bit of duct work that splits incoming air into the twin-snorkel engine air intake. Overall, this is very effective and contributes to the very pleasing noise the GLK makes when you pound the pedal to the floor.

Driving impressions
The other pleasing thing that happens when you push the loud pedal is that the GLK steps out quite smartly. Getting off a stop light was quick but smooth. Getting up to speed on a freeway entrance ramp was double the fun of normal SUVs. The GLK can get up to speed, merge and be over in the fast lane before you reach the end of a normal acceleration lane. Testing the 80 to 120 passing times was every bit as exciting since the passing lanes were short and the traffic was moving along smartly.

Equally important is braking. With four-wheel disc brakes and all the electronic driver aids, I never had a moment where I felt uncomfortable. The brake pedal was easy to modulate for maximum stopping power and if you needed that bit extra, the ABS system and stability control system were right there as well.

Handling on the GLK was exceptional. Driving in light fog, near dusk took away the light that lets you know what corners on a strange highway are like. Depending on the headlights doesn't work because patches of fog kept tossing the glare back. At this point, all you can do is turn the wheel and hope you set the corner up right. There were a couple where I wasn't exactly right, but the suspension was and I came around just fine.

The other pleasing thing that happens when you push the loud pedal is that the GLK steps out quite smartly.