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May 03, 2013

2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 4MATIC: Clean Diesel via BlueTEC

2013-Mercedes-Benz_GLK250_Bluetec_badgeIt’s stunning to me that many American consumers have such a negative response to diesel automobiles. They still have the mindset that diesel fuel is something out of a gothic novel—smelly, toxic, smoky, expensive, and bad for the environment.

It’s not, I assure you. Let me educate you to the future of clean diesel. In this case, it's Mercedes-Benz’ version called BlueTEC.

At the recent NYC launch for the 2013 GLK250 BlueTEC 4MATIC, Bart Herring
, General Manager, Product Management 
Mercedes-Benz USA, explained, ”Modern diesel engines are clean, smooth-running, and above all, highly efficient. In Europe, around 50 percent of passenger cars run on diesel engines, and calculations indicate that if just one third of American cars ran on diesel, the country could massively reduce its dependence on foreign oil.”

MBGLK250nycW2-3This mid-sized SUV also marks the return of a Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder diesel to the U.S. after nearly three decades.

The engineers at Mercedes-Benz did the math and decided that in the SUV segment BlueTEC came out being better (in fuel economy and overall value) than a hybrid version.

Case in point. The range of the GLK250 BlueTEC is 515 miles and fuel economy comes in at 24-city/33 highway. In other words, you can drive from NYC to Washington DC or Boston round-trip on a tank of gas. I know because I’ve done it. And that was years ago…before Mercedes-Benz diesel engines had a makeover.

The roots of Rudolph Diesel: In 1886, Rudolf Diesel, a German inventor and mechanical engineer, published a manifest called "Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat-engine to Replace the Steam Engine and Combustion Engines Known Today." A mouthful, for sure, but it was the basis of his invention of the Diesel engine.

Rudolf Diesel surmised that as much as 90% of the energy available in the fuel is wasted in a steam engine. He wanted to design an engine with higher efficiency ratios. (FYI: In experimenting, Diesel was almost killed by his engine when it exploded!) But the proof is in the pudding. Diesel proved that fuel could be ignited with compression. In 1898, Rudolf Diesel was granted a patent for an "internal combustion engine" or Diesel engine.

The making of Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicles: Following the merger of Daimler and Benz in 1926, Daimler-Benz AG designed a six-cylinder inline diesel for heavy trucks. This engine would eventually be a game changer for the automotive industry.

MBGLK250nycW2-17It took nearly a decade of testing and development for Mercedes-Benz engineers to create a diesel engine that they felt was good enough to put in a passenger car. The result was the 1936 260D, which featured a 2.6-liter four-cylinder diesel engine with a maximum output of 45 hp. The vehicle achieved fuel mileage of almost 25 mpg – a remarkable number considering that the 260D’s gasoline equivalent managed just 18 mpg.

Fast forward to model year 2007. Mercedes-Benz pioneered its new diesel technology with a global premiere of BlueTEC. The E320 BlueTEC (210 hp, 398 lb-ft) was voted 2007 World Green Car for its remarkably low emissions.

A barrage of M-B BlueTEC SUVs followed in 2009, featuring the next phase of BlueTEC technology with AdBlue exhaust gas after treatment. This water-based urea solution is carried in its own small tank and metered into the exhaust in minute quantities, so the tank only needs to be refilled during routine scheduled maintenance. When AdBlue is injected into pre-cleaned exhaust gas, ammonia (NH3) is released, converting nitrogen oxides into harmless nitrogen (and water) in a downstream catalytic converter. Called SCR, for selective catalytic reduction, Mercedes-Benz believes this process creates the most effective method of exhaust gas after-treatment currently available. AdBlue injection helps make the diesel as clean as a state-of-the-art gasoline engine and meets exhaust emission regulations in all 50 states.

Combined fuel consumption for the ML320 BlueTEC was 20 mpg. The larger GL320 BlueTEC is rated at 19 mpg giving Mercedes-Benz the right to claim it the most fuel-efficient full-size SUV on the market.

MBGLK250nycW2-19-1For 2013 Mercedes-Benz has refined their BlueTEC vehicles. The four-cylinder turbo diesel engine consumes a competitive mpg of 24-city/33 highway. Mercedes notes that their new GLK model is the first diesel-powered entry in the mid-sized SUV market.

The BlueTEC 4MATIC $38,590 (excluding $905 destination) is priced between GLK350 $37,090 and GLK350 4MATIC for $39,090.

For my money, it makes sense to buy the diesel.

Standard Feature Highlights include:
• 200-horsepower/2.1-liter inline four-cylinder turbo diesel engine
• Direct Select shifter
• Electromechanical Steering
• Color instrument cluster display
• Nearly 1,000 new parts


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