The new W204 C-Class-based sport-ute did some hot laps with a BMW X3, which will be its primary competitor, and our sources say that the GLK appeared to hold its own in the track day duel.

BMW X3 as sparring partner

Mercedes has descended upon the Nürburgring with their new GLK compact crossover. The new W204 C-Class-based sport-ute did some hot laps with a BMW X3, which will be its primary competitor, and our sources say that the GLK appeared to hold its own in the track day duel. Since the "K" in GLK stands for kleine (German for small), the name implies that this car is a smaller version of the GL-Class. True to form, the GLK's styling takes many cues from the Mercedes' large GL-class sport-utility. The GLK won't rival a Land Rover LR2 for serious off-road prowess, but the extra ground clearance should provide a sufficient off-road capability when combined with Mercedes' 4matic four-wheel-drive system. Expect the usual range of C-Class engines to be on offered in the GLK.

The exact launch date for the GLK is not clear. A September unveiling in Frankfurt may be too early, which would leave the Los Angeles, Detroit, or Geneva auto shows as other potential launch events for the GLK to make its official bow.

SPY PHOTOS: Mercedes GLK Hits the Track