2014 Mercedes-Benz GLC
Fast forward to today. Can you name every model line currently offered by Mercedes? (Here's a hint: There are 13 available in the U.S. alone, and three more in Germany.) Better start memorizing now, because it won't get easier: The brand is about to expand its portfolio by at least two more models, both of which are derived from the front-wheel-drive platform of the next A- and B-class.
The Name Game
One of them will be a four-door sedan that’s touted as a "small CLS" by Sindelfingen designers (see spy photos of that one here); the other, shown here in artist’s renderings, is a compact crossover that could be called either the BLK or GLC (the latter won’t stand for “great little car" as it did with the old Mazda compact). Internally, it is often referred to as the SUC (small utility cruiser), but, for obvious reasons, we don't think this letter combination will be stuck on the little ute’s posterior.
So while the final designation is still a mystery, the parameters of the vehicle are fairly obvious at this point. The crossover will be available with front- or all-wheel-drive, and it will be powered by a new generation of turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The gasoline units will displace 1.6 liters and make 120 or 154 hp; a 1.8-liter diesel will be offered in Europe. Mercedes also plans to install its ubiquitous 2.1-liter turbo-diesel, and the brand could also offer larger and more powerful turbocharged gasoline engines. Power will be transmitted to the wheels through a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Organic Styling Inside and Out
The styling won’t be boxy and angular like the GLK’s, but rather softer. It will be punctuated by a lot of flowing and twisting lines, not all of which make sense at first—or even second—glance. Inside, you can be sure the new model will sport the latest versions of COMAND and Mercedes’ various other safety and telematics technologies.
This new Benz crossover aims squarely at the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3, but the Mini Countryman and the Range Rover Evoque will be strong competitors as well. It's an increasingly tough segment in which to operate. Will Mercedes succeed? We'll see when this little front-driver is launched in late 2013 as a 2014 model, and U.S. availability is still on the table.