Any celebrity knows that a little nip and tuck goes a long way. Some celebrities have had their faces pulled so tight, their lips meet their foreheads.
Thankfully, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GLK hasn't suffered such indignities. When it comes to facelifts, this model year is its first time under the knife. The changes are subtle but effective.
Visually, the familiar styling details from the larger G-Class and GL-Class remain, although headlights and taillights have been updated with fibre optics and LEDs. The whole front seems simplified and softened; that helps offset this vehicle's sharp, angular lines, which carry over unchanged from its inception in 2010.
The bigger news is inside, where stylists have used interior materials more appropriate for the price; the GLK no longer looks or feels like a taxicab. Mercedes' traditional large chrome vents, liberal use of wood trim and a better grade of materials make a significant difference in overall ambience.
It's all packed into an entry-level luxury SUV that's almost a foot shorter than a Mercedes-Benz M-Class. The front seats are acceptably roomy, but the rear seat legroom is a bit dear. Better to fold down the rear seat and use it for stashing antiques acquired during a weekend shopping trip.
While the GLK's length may inhibit second-row legroom, it does wonders for manoeuvrability. This helped by the improved steering feel, and the suspension, which is well dampened.
Body lean through corners is minimal.
But the best part of the 2013 GLK is its heart transplant. Under the restyled hood you'll find a brawny new 3.5-litre V-6 that makes all the right noises. Although it's the same size as last year's engine, it produces 34 more horsepower. A seven-speed automatic transmission is standard and can be shifted manually through paddles mounted on the steering wheel.
With 302 ponies on tap, the GLK can reach 100 kilometres per hour in 6.4 seconds, which seems valid. The engine, in concert with the new interior, transforms this SUV's personality. Performance is strong, but not overpowering. It's downright fun to drive.
But the GLK is frugal as well. This compact SUV automatically shuts off the engine when you come to a stop. Lift your foot off the brake, and the engine restarts.
Such goodness can be had for a starting price of $44,900 for the base all-wheel-drive model without options. That's not a lot of money for a compact SUV that wears the three-pointed star.
And when it comes to looking good, for many buyers, the star and its attributes are all that matters.
© Copyright 2013