Mercedes: GLK for UK?

20 March 2008

Mercedes: GLK for UK?

The UK arm of Mercedes-Benz is pushing hard for the forthcoming GLK compact 4x4 to be made with right-hand drive, despite the severe technical challenges involved.

Initially, Mercedes said there would be no right-hand-drive versions because there would have to be major re-engineering to route the steering column around the car's front driveshafts.

However, with other right-hand-drive markets such as Australia, Japan and South Africa also interested in the car, Mercedes UK is hoping to persuade its parent company that the effort would be justified by potential sales.

One argument in its favour is that the GLK is based on the platform of the latest C-Class, another model available in Europe with four-wheel drive.

If Mercedes was to agree to the engineering work, the C-Class could therefore also be sold here with four-wheel drive as a rival to Audi's A4 quattro.

The GLK production model - a rival to the BMW X3, the imminent Audi Q5 and Land Rover's Freelander - is due to be revealed at Shanghai later this year and will go on sale in Europe in October. Mercedes-Benz UK now hopes it may be able to offer it by 2010.

Ironically, if electronic drive-by-wire steering systems were permitted, it would be a relatively simple task of building the car with right-hand-drive, but European Union regulations demand some physical link between the steering wheel and the road wheels.